Despite it being Easter weekend, there was quite a turn out at this years’ BUCS Downhill Mountain Bike Championship at Caersws in Mid Wales. The track was dry, the sun was out and there were quite a few sun-burnt faces and dust-covered people, but this did not deter the competitors and spectators who were there to have a good time. Emma Spencer was there for Label Sport.
For those of you who do not know what downhill mountain biking entails, it is more than a leisurely ride on a downward slope whilst taking in the scenery. From what was witnessed this weekend, it requires skill and audacity; I have been told that it has often been likened to running the 100m whilst juggling and trying to work out maths problems! However, working out your course and the skill and determination required to race a downhill track is what makes it enjoyable for the ambitious riders, and admirable to watch.
Out of the 203 male riders that entered, five Loughborough riders qualified for the 100 placing run. Emily Deason, who was racing downhill for the first time, placed fourth in the qualifier out of the few spirited females to enter, coming fifth overall after a crash. Tom Statham and Will Tyne (pictured right) were on for strong times, but fell afoul of the dusty conditions, which placed them at 98th with a time of 2:49, and 96th with 2:38 respectively. Phil Slade placed 93rd, Joe Spicer 88th and, the rather speedy Tom Cartigny came sixth with 2:08.
The finishing times were so close, whilst the dry, dustiness of the track led to a fair few undesirable dismounts. Nevertheless, every rider was cheered on by the spectators and they jumped back on their bikes with eager commitment. The few spectators and the remaining riders climbed their way up the tracks to stand and cheer the final 100 riders, making noise with any possible old bike implement they could find. Goldsmith’s took first place in the female championship, and Dundee for the male’s round at 2:03. Edinburgh won the overall team competition.
Several riders from Loughborough went home disappointed. However it should be noted, nevertheless, that all 12 entrants put in a tremendous amount of effort. Lots of support was given by the marshals, who were mainly comprised of Loughborough volunteers.
The atmosphere was lively and friendly from the majority of the universities who were there to take part for the passion of the sport. Sam Matthews, former captain who organised Loughborough’s involvement in the event, said that “with great weather and a fun track, BUCS this year made for a hugely enjoyable weekend for everyone from Loughborough. Unfortunately, a couple of slips on the dusty track by the top guys meant that we narrowly missed out on a team podium.”
Petros Efthymiou, who was also racing downhill for the first time, said that he would definitely do it again. If you would like to know more about the sport of want to get involved, then visit the LSU website and click on AU cycling.