Plonked right in the middle of the varsity fixtures, BUCS Downhill Championships were all the way down in Rheola, South Wales last weekend, so UOSCC gathered a team together and made the 4 hour journey down there to show some Sheffield steel!

We set off Thursday night, armed with enough spare tyres to build a go-kart track, in a hire van and a car. Setting up tents was interesting enough in the dark, then an early night for all in time for practice the next day.

After a short drive to the course on Friday morning we got an opportunity to walk the course. We soon realized this was no tame track- rocks, roots, flat out sections, steep sections and huge ruts, as well as being massively long.

Uplift on Friday was slow going, with huge uplift queues. However the hilarity of first run down seemed all worth it- people crashing everywhere whilst Shef Uni held their lines and looked composed first run down. Training at local steep and rooty tracks had paid off and this track was not hugely technically challenging for the team- the main thing was the length of the track and the speed of the top section.

Saturday morning practice ran a lot smoother and the uplift queues seemed to magically vanish, although the realization you had to qualify top 100 out of 400 in the country to do a race run was dawning on a lot of people. Team Sheffield looked majorly dapper in their new team kit supplied by Optic and Leisure Lakes, even had a comment from the organizers how good it looked!

Came down to qualifying, and Duncan Philpott was up first, and went out with a bang- crashing on the first corner, not a great start.

Downhill Captain Danny Whitehead was up next and put in a flying run of 4.07, and set the benchmark for the rest of the Uni team and looked good to qualify for the top 100.

Freshers Jonny Chorley and Lloyd Woolacott were seeded 3rd and 4th for uni team- expecting big things from Jonny Chorley after his loose run at Varsity downhill the previous weekend, but he just couldn’t hold it together and crashed, missing out on the top 100 qualifiers. Lloyd however managed to deliver after looking pinned in practice and laid down a 4.02 to make it into the top 100.

Captain Dave Camus was up, and with the 75 plate should really be qualifying- he pulled out all the stops to smash it and get a 3.52, throwing a cheeky whip in there for good measure.

Finally it was old boy Andrew Fowles turn down the hill- with a top 20 place last year big things were expected of the quiet lad, and he delivered with a 3.53 to put him into 46th quali place.

So at the end of qualifying, 4 Shef Uni boys out of 6 go through to race runs.

Danny Whitehead was down first for uni, qualifying 78th, but just didn’t have the strength to hold on and put a super fast race run together, coming down with a 4.11 and into a respectable 82nd

Lloyd Woolacott was up next but a crash on the top section meant he couldn’t regain that time back and went down with a 4.14 and straight onto the beers for the last two boys coming down the hill.

Andrew Fowles was the penultimate Shef uni hope, putting together a smooth as silk run to take 8 seconds off his qualifying run to come down with a 3.45 and into 40th

Captain Dave Camus was last down the hill for Sheffield Uni, and put a flying run together (with a cheeky whip for the crowds at the bottom) and smashed 11 seconds off his qualifying run to grab a 3.41- into 33rd and just pipping Hallam top boys Oli Lynch and Jonny Congreve by 3 seconds.

Position Rider Qualifying Run (pos) Race Run (pos)
33 David CAMUS 3:52.928 (45) 3:41.366 (33)
40 Andrew FOWLES 3:53.528 (46) 3:45.658 (40)
82 Danny WHITEHEAD 4:07.241 (78) 4:11.939 (82)
83 Lloyd WOOLACOTT 4:02.370 (66) 4:14.033 (83)
110 Jonny CHORLEY 4:19.445 (110)
226 Duncan PHILPOTT­ 6:28.269 (226)

A highly successful weekend of racing for Shef Uni- Came 11th out of 31 uni’s too, and beat hallam!  A big shout to Mike MacDonald who came along to be our marshal for us, and generally just lend a helping hand- couldn’t have done it without him.

The BUCS weekend fun wasn’t over yet though, as we’d booked a campsite near the Forest of Dean to ride on the Sunday as well. The weather was glorious, and the carpark at the trail centre was rammed full of 40 year old weapons on bikes that were way too clean.

A chilled session was definitely in order after two hard days racing, so Duncan whacked his camera out, and we found a corner to try and get bars down on- some people a little too eagerly..

We also found a couple of corners to play on and try and get a banging photo- came out with this cracker-

I can safely say that BUCS weekend has been the best weekend of riding bikes so far this year- top quality riding, loads of banter, dusty trails and all with the University of Sheffield Cycling Club!


Posted in BUCS, Mountain Biking, Downhill