For most of our members, cycling is a pleasant way to keep fit, get some fresh air, exchange some (questionably) witty banter, and of course indulge in the all-important coffee, cakes, beer and chips. Recently, with the formation of the Ripcor Race Team there have been forays into racing, with riders competing in crits, time trials and even cyclocross, but last weekend saw two of our members, Andrew "Shouty" Marchment and his wife and new Ripcor member Caz, go truly to the darkside and enter a downhill mountain bike race.
Downhill is possibly the polar opposite of a usual Ripcor ride, only a couple of minutes of flat-out, high adrenaline off road racing down a technically demanding course featuring roots, rocks, drops and jumps to contend with. While each run is a short period of intense madness, a days racing is more in line with the Ripcor way, with plenty of time for drinking tea, eating cake, chatting and most importantly of all heckling, sorry supporting, the other racers.
Our intrepid duo had entered the Root 1 Racing inaugural event at Tidworth Freeride. Root 1 is a new venture intended to encourage novices into the sport of downhill, and as such racing was held on Tidworth's least daunting trail "Sicknote." This was perfect for our riders as it was Caz's first foray in gravity racing, and Andrew has spent far too much time on the road bike and was feeling somewhat rusty in the skills department.
An early start had riders signed on and practicing by 8am. A couple of runs to recheck lines (or in Caz's case, try to find them in the first place) and shakedown the bikes and it was time to race. After a short delay the first runs got underway, both riders were happy to get to the finish with no major incidents, but a couple of small mistakes certainly left room for improvement. After a break for refreshments it was time to push up for run 2. Andrew managed to correct a couple of lines and shaved a few seconds off his first run time. Caz seemed to have set out to find all the wrong lines this time, and made every mistake available to her, plus a few that no one thought possible, adding 2 seconds to her previous time.
Another refreshment break and riders again slogged up the hill for the final run of the day. Caz was determined to relax and let this run flow and was feeling good, riding fast and smooth (or as smooth as possible on a hardtail over roots) until disaster struck. Going off line through a challenging root section resulted in an over the bars crash. Thankfully rider and bike were undamaged, but a tangle with the course tape and subsequently having to wait for a following rider to pass put pay to any hope of an improved time. A minor tantrum involving hurling the old DMR steel frame at a tree ensued at the bottom, much to the spectator’s amusement.
Knowing that he stood no chance of success in the race, Andrew decided to play to his strengths and aiming for the best fancy dress prize, donned a figure-hugging lycra Wolverine costume which left absolutely nothing to the imagination for his final run. Cheers and wolf whistles greeted him at the start line, and continued as he took a relaxed, playful ride down the course.
The podium presentation followed for 13 classes with great riding from young and novice riders being rewarded, including our own Caz Marchment who secured 3rd place in the first time senior ladies category.
A big thank you to Phil from Tidworth Freeride as well as all the other volunteers and sponsors who made for such a great day. Particular thanks to Victoria Dawe, Hannah Crossley and #MuddyShots for the great photos of both Ripcor riders.
Caz – 3rd First Time Senior Women 1:59:59
Andrew - 13th Masters Men 1.31.43 and best fancy dress
Written by Shouty Marchment