So Round 4 of this years HSBC National Downhill Series was at Rhyd-Y-Felin which is just down the road from Revolution Bike Park. Ideal for me as I could just walk down the road and to get there.
The Rhyd-Y-Felin track (also known as the Bala Track) that was going to be raced was very similar to the Pearce race that was held there at the end of June so I sort of knew the track as I covered the Sunday race day. After walking 1 mile down the road to the race venue I found the media people signed in and collected a media Jersey that was all mine for the weekend.
Saturday was practice day and by the time I had walked down, got my jersey and then made my way up the hill it was on it’s way to 11 o’clock. I set up in my first spot and got shooting, I was just above the first fire road and the sun was out. This proved to be a great spot and I was here for about an hour and got some really awesome photos.
After this spot I ventured further up the hill a nice rooty/stummpy section. There were a few lines through these and one epic fly or fail route over one of the stumps in the middle of the track.
After I spent some time in the stumps section I headed back down the hill a bit. There is quite a cool stump that almost everyone was sending it over. I had photographed there when I was shooting at the Pearce race so knew it would work.
I was here for a while before making my way down into the woods section. I spotted a good place to photograph from on my way up the hill earlier in the day that I wanted to visit so headed there for a bit.
I had to leave about 4 so I could walk back to Rev’s and get my lift home with Tim. This proved a good time to leave and it rained quite heavily afterwards!
Day 2 – Race Day
So on to day 2. It rained during the night, not a little bit of rain, A LOT of rain. On my walk down to the track on Sunday I bumped into George and Richard of Making up the Numbers Race Team and they were plastered in mud, head to toe. George said that it was carnage in the field and he was right. The field is the first part of the track you get to see and its a steep grass slope out of the woods. When I passed it looked to be a 90% fail rate, literally everyone was sliding off this way and that.
I headed up the track to the first fire road as I had a spot in mind from the day before. I set up on the fire road and shot up at the stump jump, it also had a well placed tree that I could shelter under!
I stayed in the same place for the end of the practice runs and then headed up the hill for seeding. It had got much brighter and the track seemed to be drying out much to the riders delight.
I headed to my spot in the stumps from the day before but had a different angle on it as there were less people around. I was shooting further up the track and getting some nice results.
During seeding the heavens opened and it smashed it down, proper welsh sideways rain! Fortunately I had brought my new umbrella with me yay! (I have upgraded my umbrella on a stick to a full on fishing umbrella!) with myself and my gear safely stowed away I was joined by one of the younger riders who was checking the track out after his seeding run – its a big umbrella!
I moved up the hill to the highest point media was allowed to go to. I set up all my gear and just as the race runs had got started there was an accident on the track. The lad that had fallen off had dislocated his shoulder and we would have to wait for an ambulance to get him and the first aiders to be back in position before racing could continue. The track was closed for an hour and a half! This meant that I didn’t get to see any race runs as I had to get back to Revs for 4.30 and it was now 3.45pm.
I did managed to capture some images of the elite men and women winners from their seeding runs.
In the elite women National Champion Katy Curd won with a 3:51.891
In the elite men local rider Joe Breeden won with a blazing time of 2:57.110, Joe also got the fastest time of the day by 5.2 seconds!
I had an absolutely amazing time at Rhyd-Y-Felin despite the rain and that I didn’t get to see any actual race runs!