BDS Rd 1 Combe Sydenham

BDS Rd 1 Combe Sydenham


BDS Rd 1 Combe Sydenham Michael Coupe.
The long awaited BDS rounds were finally upon us, the Friday morning commute to work was replaced by a much more relaxed approach . It started by meeting team mate Mick Hill & Danny Kean, to load up the van with every tyre and spare bike part we could get our hands on. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day they say, so we made sure we did just that and called in for a cheeky Tesco’s finest ‘full English’ in order to help us on our way for the longest 4hr drive in the world.Finally we arrived in Combe Sydenham which welcomed us with cueing traffic for as far as the eye could see, but we found ways to pass the time with cookies and sausage rolls to hand so all was good. Eventually we broke free from traffic and hit the county lanes to the main event. As we approached the main entrance we became lost in a sea of motor homes and tents, not to mention the mud which was to become everyone’s worst nightmare. We parked up and set out for the dreaded track walk, all seemed ok until we got just over half way and looked at the 30ft step down. We new at this point it was no average race course and would have no choice but to tackle it head on.Track walk completed we left the boy scouts Liam, Danny & Jamie behind to make their beans on toast, whilst me Mick Hill & Rich Molloy booked ourselves in for a cosy night at a local B&B. The next day we woke up to a very wet Combe Sydenham but thankfully courtesy of Mick Hill he provided us all with some new slick water proof coats which came in very useful thanks again Mick.As the day went on the track conditions went from good to almost impossible, what was once a smooth corner became a deep rutted mess and all parts of the track became a pedalling frenzy just to maintain some speed. By the end of the day we all had tales to tell of crashes and near misses which left us all a little nervous for race day.

Race day- Mick Hill, Rich and I arrived back at the course refreshed & ready for the last practise runs before the race. After giving Mick Hill some re-assurance that everything was going to be ok we made our way to the top of the track with only minutes to spare before they closed the track for race runs. Mick Hill & Rich were the first to set off, I wasn’t far behind when I fell off in the forest section, I jumped back on the bike to find my pedal had snapped off. I had no choice but to pull off the track and coast back to the finish & begin the mad search for a spare set of pedals.-Thanks Rich!

Back at camp/services I caught up with the happy campers Danny, Liam & Jamie who were doing last minute checks & cleaning off the thick mud that was clogging just about every part of the bike. Finally we all made our own way to the start ready for the seeding run, my seeding run turned out to be the first full run down the track at speed , having a few near misses on the way down I made it clean and new I could improve on the time for the all important last run.

After an hours break it was back to the top for the race run which started out a lot faster, all was going well until I got to the 7ft drop down onto the fire track were I found myself looking down at the ground & not the entrance to the forest, needless to say it didn’t end well. I was slammed into the fire road winded & unsure if the bike had been damaged. I pulled of the track & called it a day & luckily I came away with just sore ribs & a bike still in one piece.

Once I had made my way to the finish I was able to catch up with all the team & see how everyone else had got on. Sadly we had no podium positions this time but I think we all left knowing what we needed to improve on. The main thing is despite the weather & track conditions, Liam nearly loosing his man hood on his seat, Danny nearly lost his finger in the car door & I receiving my first DNF we were still smiling & still had an amazing and fun weekend. And a hats off to Jamie for fastest of the day through the speed trap! 45.22 km/h

Mick Hill 18th 4.04 sec Rich Molloy 22nd 4.35 sec
Jammie Scott 20th 3.11 sec Liam Mcdermott 13th 3.11 sec
Danny Keane 42nd 3.33 sec Michael Coupe (DNF)










British Downhill Series – Round 1- Coombe Sydenham 14th-15th April

British Downhill Series – Round 1- Coombe Sydenham 14th-15th April
British Downhill Series – Round 1- Coombe Sydenham 14th-15th AprilBig Rich Race Report:-After a 5 hour drive from Harrogate we finally arrived at Coombe Sydenham on Friday afternoon, we’d been watching various you tube video’s of the course and were looking forward to the track walk, after an hour or so we’d had a good look and apart from some of the bigger stuff we were happy with it, it was now time to register and then off to the pub for a quick beer and an early night.

Saturday morning cold & wet and we were in the uplift queue, we knew it was going to be the uplift queue that was going be the bug bear for the weekend as there was 350 of the fastest down hillers in the world racing, it was a little disappointing to find we had a 500yard steep push up once we had got off the tractor, after 5 minutes calf rest we were ready to throw ourselves down the course.
The course started in a small section of wood with some tight & slippy switch backs which then came out into a double and then back in again, this then joined one of three bus stops the last having the largest drop, then back into some very dark woods which were boggy and littered with off camber roots, after 6 or 7 switch backs and a small rock garden came the road gap stepdown we had agreed that having a go was out of the question for us old blokes and we would leave that one to the younger generation and as it happened there was a smaller version to left that was more up our street, once we had cleared that we started on the motorway section with two large table tops then a double & then a double-double, a small hip and back into the woods, we had agreed to pull over near the bottom rock garden to watch some other riders come through and choose a line, I choose the steeper line and stuck to that one all weekend while Richie tried different lines to see which was fastest, once through this section we came out of the woods over a double & then jump a small beck/steam and over the finish line.
We completed two full runs before lunch and two further full runs after lunch with some sessioning here and there, then off to the pub for a well earned beer and an Indian.

Sunday morning, Race Day, an early start got us in the queue for around 8.30am and after a full run we were back in the queue for 9.30 but by now the queue was massive and we were unable to get another run in before practice closed, seeding runs for our category started at 11.40am and we were there back on time unlike the rest of the Vets who were in danger of missing there slot, we set off just as they made it to the top, I posted a 3:30 run and Richie posted a 3:52 run which put me seeded 11th and Richie 13th, we now had 3 hours to kill until our race runs so back to the van for some lunch and a check over the bikes, back on the uplift and the nerves were kicking in but as luck would have it we didn’t have long to wait before we were called up, with this being the one and only race it was important to give it the beans but also be careful not to make any mistakes and crash out, I managed to catch the chap in front of me at the motorway section but found it difficult to pass him cleanly and lost a few seconds in the process, with only the last rock garden left I took a deep breath and launched myself down it – out of the woods and crossed the finish line a happy racer, Richie too had a clean run and it was all smiles that we had survived the weekend intact & all that was left was a 6 hour drive back home.

The British Downhill Series is the best organised downhill event in the country and with such stars as Steve Peat, Josh Bryceland, Brendan Fairclough, Marc Beaumont & huge crowds of spectators it really does make it a very special event.A special mention for James Kidd, Jamie Scott & Rich Easton, thanks for your advice & encouragement over the weekend JTeamRockgardener ResultsBig Rich 3:21.416 11th (vets)Richie 3:47.690 13th (vets)

Photos: Rich Easton & John Cobb