Getting over 300 riders to turn out to a downhill race is impressive in anyone's book. But in the middle of winter is even better. Who said grassroots downhill was dead?

Here's Ben Deakin's report from round 2 of the Forest of Dean mini downhill. It brought the usual mix of mud, carnage and flat out racing

forest-of-dean-2
forest-of-dean-2

Onza Tires Mini Downhill Jan 17

Written by Ben 'The Deakinator' Deakin

Photos: Dave Price

Chris Roberts’ Mini Downhill races have been running for 10 years this year, and 2017 looks like it certainly isn’t getting any quieter. This race had a field of 320 riders, of which were 22 girls and nine elites, all ready to race in the wet slop.

The top section was fairly flat and required bit of pedalling but had a few lines that the faster riders were gapping up to avoid some lethal roots. A few kicky jumps and compressions later and you were in Root City, the main carnage zone in practice. The fast riders went straight through the middle, over the sketchiest roots, straight into a steep chute and into more roots.

forest-of-dean-4
forest-of-dean-4

After this it was a test of lung strength to traverse your way to the final part of the course with a few big jumps and sweeping sloppy corners before a final sprint to the finish line. 

The average time was just under the two minute mark which is pretty impressive considering the mini size of the hill - it was definitely one of the longer tracks in the forest.

December’s Mini Downhill was ice cold and sunny - this time round we were treated to fog, damp trails and the promise of rain at lunch time. With bad weather moving in fast everyone was eager to get the most out of practice and get their lines nailed early.

The track was slippery and infested with roots so getting some good runs in was tough. Unfortunately, early on in practice a female rider had a bad crash on the root section resulting in a dislocated ankle (as far as I know). Practice got delayed for around 50 minutes as the medical team took care of her on one of the most technical and awkward parts of the track.

When practice got back underway it was more like Mini Megavalanche than Mini Downhill. The whole field hit the track in one-go and trained the course to get their practice in. With short days and limited light, practice couldn’t be extended and everyone had to make do with what they’d got. The faster categories race at the end of the day and any delays mean less light - not ideal when the elites come down last and are (in theory) going fastest!

forest-of-dean-6
forest-of-dean-6

The Hardtail category saw James Farrow and Tom Dunn battling all day with James just pipping Tom by just under a second. Danny Moore took third place.

The Rippers category (Age 10-12) saw some impressive talent with 16 kids showing that the future is bright. Some of them were barely as big as their bikes and were tackling the track like seasoned champs. Local Will Haines took the win from Rudi Elchhorn in second and Jordi Hart in third. I’d love to have started racing at that age but I’m obviously showing my age as you weren’t allowed to race until you were 16 back then!

Juvenile men (13-14 year olds) was won by Jordan Williams ahead of Dennis Luffman and Connor Smith in third. 

Youth men (15-16 year olds) saw Morgan Tyrrell take the win in front of team-mate Chris Cumming with Dec Wilicombe rounding up the Top 3.

Juniors saw some seriously quick times with Jordan Beighton taking a 3-second-win with a time to put him up with the big boys finishing 5th overall with Owen Martin and Riley Jenner both securing their positions on the podium.

forest-of-dean-5
forest-of-dean-5

Seniors saw the tightest racing with the top 4 separated by less than a second with Archie Box finishing a nose whisker in front of Jay Little and Joe Bremner-Foord rounding out the top 3.

I’m pleased to say that I’d have won the Masters category - but I didn’t want to sandbag and raced in elite. One-time pro BMX’er Scott Edgworth took the win with Lines Kupstys and James Weames ending in 2nd and 3rd respectively behind him.

The veterans saw Pete Crump a seasoned racer take a convincing 2 second win with Chris Blackmoore and Matt Burridge rounding up the Top 3.

The Grand Vets saw 7 riders take to the hill with Pete Little putting 21 seconds into the rest of his category (someone check his ID!). Mark Taylor took 2nd and Steve Lewis 3rd.

22 women showed up to race which is a great turn out for any race! The fastest female on the day was Natasha Bradley taking the win ahead of Aston Tutt and Abbie Sloan in Seniors. 

forest-of-dean-7
forest-of-dean-7

Youth girls saw Rosy Monaghan taking the win in front of Ellen Flewitt and Corinna Brisbourne.

Master woman saw Erika Mcdermott take the win in front of Hazel Wakefield and Kate Gries.

Veteran Woman saw 4 girls compete with Lindsay Hanley edging her way in front of Rene Stent and Kasey Brock rounding out the podium.

The top boys field dominated by the ginger pocket rocket Charlie Hatton. He pushed hard from the start with a 1.32.960. Rich Thomas from Wideopenmag snapped at his heels with a 1.33.640 and Irish EWS racer Kelan Grant (also on Wideopenmag) followed him down with a 1.35.100.

The light was fading fast for second runs and it was super hard to see in the trees. Despite that Rich and Charlie both beat their first run times. I had a mare but was stoked to show the young guns a thing or two and raced in elite rather than my age category (masters). I scored 6th overall and 5th in Pro Am category. 

Overall the Mini Downhill races are a real good laugh with a great vibe. The fact that the race was fully booked weeks ahead tells the story of how good they are. The race was run on a track that advanced riders can challenge themselves on with creative lines but also one that the beginners can safely negotiate and get some experience. Everything had chicken runs and rollable features, making everything safe and enjoyable. 

Thanks to Chris and the Naked Racing team for a brilliant race. Huge thanks to the medics, marshals and spectators who braved the cold conditions all day and added to the already great atmosphere this race has to offer. Healing vibes also to the lady who went to hospital.

Cheers Deaks!

https://www.instagram.com/deakinator1/

https://www.facebook.com/Deakinator1/

Oh - Most importantly if you want some #OiOi socks or a T-Shirt you can purchase it here!! http://www.bendeakin.net/oioi

The Onza Tyres Mini Downhill is made possible by Onza Tyres, MTB Beds Morzine, FlyUp Downhill, Enve Wheels, Mudhugger, Flow Mtb and Eat my Dirt.

forest-of-dean-3
forest-of-dean-3