The cross country and downhill BUCS (student championships) were held at the UK Bike Park in Dorset.
There was a fantastic atmosphere throughout the weekend with lots of banter between the universities and huge crowds turning out to hurl abuse, shout encouragement and airhorn the riders.
The downhill course proved to be surprisingly difficult with off camber roots and super slippery chalky corners encouraging a huge percentage of riders to make good use of the padding around the trees.
The road gap at the top of the course claimed a few victims as they popped over the lip only to find they were landing into someone’s broken up patio. The nature of the course meant there were no certainties and few clean runs.
Sheffield’s Ruari Hallam rode his way to an astounding 18th place in his first ever BUCS race despite a stack on his second run, commenting “I was out there to hold it wide open and pin some drifts.” Definitely one to watch for the future.
Skinsuit enthusiast Edd Wright railed his way down the course on a borrowed bike two sizes too small for him, complaining his baggy kit was holding him back after practicing in his favourite skinsuit, which gained him huge respect from the adoring crowd.
Franky Fitzpatrick cruised his way to 45th place. He looking slightly bewildered at the sight of a steep hill, having been brought up in the flatlands of Liverpool, but demonstrated how fast riders can learn after just six months in Sheffield.
Ed Thomsett bowlegged his way to 54th position claiming he was “in it solely for the air time and admiration.” However the appearance of his lime green speedsuit in his practice runs would suggest that he was taking it more seriously than he was letting on.
Other noteworthy performances came from Dale Hennessy who sadly got lost on both his runs and had to ask for directions, Pip Trenholme for focusing on providing banter for the raceheads and Henry Marsh for schooling over 50 riders on his hardtail.
The XC course was held in high regard by everyone; a fantastic technical descent switchbacked steeply down the hill over a sea of off camber roots and drops, whilst the top of the course made great use of the 4X and dual course providing a chance to throw down some style over the jumps and berms. The greasy, incredibly steep climb was a test of will power as much as physical strength and some tired riders [not from Sheffield I hasten to add] were spotted stopping for a spot of lunch at the half way stage.
Andy Douglas put in the ride of his life for his final year with some audacious overtaking manoeuvres on the rooty corners of the descent helping to push him up the leader board.
I made the most of what strength I could muster on the climbs and really enjoyed ripping up the descent: something we’ve practiced regularly in our biweekly rides into the Peak. I suffered on the climb but the anticipation of hitting the descent encouraged me to dig deeper and try to hang on until the singletrack.
Mike Guildford, who usually rides on the road, made mincemeat of the steep climb. Thanks to the excellent skills coaching provided by downhill captain Dom Haines, he survived the technical descent without losing too much skin and it was reported he was seen whipping it out over the enormous double at the bottom of the course.
Mike Jolley, our tame downhill rider, lugged his hangover and heavy Meta to the top of the climb before proceeding to nail back to the bottom with enough flair to make the rest of us look like amateurs and prove he wasn’t there to clown around.
Having competed in the downhill championship the day before on an ill fitting and unfamiliar bike, socials secretary Katie Hegmann battled through the fatigue on yet another ill fitting and unfamiliar bike to earn a hugely impressive tenth place in the female competition.
Sadly we narrowly missed out on the BUCS points, coming 11th in the team standings, but it’s certainly something to build on for future years.
“I have gone over and above the call of duty”
“Abseloutely mint weekend, so much fun. We destroyed the opposition with a 1st place for banter and carnage!!”
“I was just stoked to be there”
“Can I get a Yoooo Kaaaayyyyy…”
“…ermmm…here comes a rider…its number ##…ermmm…here comes another rider…its…” [inspired commentry, truly inspired]