Meeting the man behind one of the longest running race series in the UK

Chris Roberts is a true hero of UK racing

If you live in southern England or Wales, the chances are you’ve raced in one of the Forest of Dean mini downhill races.

They’re all about big fun on small hills. Despite being a push-up operation in the dead of winter, it still attracts top talents including Danny Hart, Tracy Moseley and Katy Curd. However, it’s also super welcoming to newcomers who are taking to the tapes for the first time.

On top of this £1,000 from every race is donated to the FoD trail volunteers to help with the upkeep of the venue. In short, they’re absolutely rad!

In 2017 the series enters its tenth year making it one of the longest running downhill race series in the UK. The man behind the series is Chris Roberts, a true legend of the scene who also organises the Mini Enduro series and British 4X as well as timing the Welsh Gravity Enduro Series, British Downhill Series and British Enduro Series.

We had a quick catch up with the man who tapes and times through the depths of winter to keep the British scene going strong all year round:

When did you first get into race organisation?

The first race was a dual slalom on a farm just down the road from where I live that was used by 4x4s. Then the year after we organised a round of the Midland Super Series DH & XC races in Ribbsfords woods

How did the FoD mini DH series come about then?

The original races were at Chicksands but they were so popular we ran out of car parking spaces so we looked for another venue a bit closer to home. Back in the day I raced a DH in FoD so went back to explore the area and the rest is history.

What’s been the most memorable race in the past 10 years?

When we had complaints from the forestry in FoD that we were getting to many spectators coming to watch the racing! And of course when we get DH World Champions coming down to race.

What’s been the hardest moment in the past ten years?

Snow but that’s only been at one race in the last 10 years so can’t complain really.

What do you think keeps people coming back year after year?

We think it just the great fun tracks. The FoD is a great winter play ground and the great atmosphere we get at the Minis always helps.

What do you think attracts the big names (Danny Hart, Tracy Moseley etc) to the FoD mini DHs?

You would have to ask them! But I think they see it as away to give back and support the sport. Tracy has given her time to do free training sessions with all the girls racing to help inspire them and build their confidence which is just fantastic.

Katy Curd coaching the women’s field in 2014

What do you think of the state of play for UK grassroots racing at the moment?

The numbers of riders are down on its hay day of five years ago but there are still hundreds of riders out there wanting to race with the pressure of a national race and need somewhere to either start racing or build up their skills for a bigger race.

What does the future hold for mini DH in the next ten years? 

Haha Crystal ball time!

We have few ideas to improve what we do in FoD mostly just tweeks to improve the experience, this  winter season you get a personalised number board with your name on to keep after each race.

You can enter round one of the 2017 FoD Mini Downhill series here.

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