By Traharn Chidley
Social media newsfeeds appear to have been high-jacked by keen mountain-bikers racing all over the country. Safe to say the MTB race season has officially kicked off.
We’re spoilt for choice, with well organised races scattered near and far, it’s hard to pick one.
Over the weekend, I had bridesmaid duties for one of my best friends, leaving me a little too delicate to take part in any kind of racing on Sunday. So I became chief cheerleader for my brother Joel Chidley, as he competed in the one and only BUCS Student Championships at Antur Stiniog.
It’s quite the experience being able to witness Student Champs, I remember competing in one at Moelfre a few years back; one of the best races I’ve been a part of…which I had momentarily forgotten until last weekend.
It’s the definition of how racing should be: everyone has the most positive, fun and relaxed attitude to riding down a mountain. Of course there’s fancy dress; guys rocking the mankini, Scooby Doo and even the classic retro skin-tight multi-coloured leotard. With over 300 riders the organisers have found a fantastic system in keeping everyone in the game. Everyone gets a qualifying run with the top 100 in for the final race. Which means, by the time racing is due, there’s hundreds of students gathering around the burliest spot they can find, turning it into one messy heckle fest. As soon as qualified riders finish their race run, they grab a beer and join the heckle fest. Everyone seems to know everyone, signing happy birthday to random riders through their megaphones, which was also their tool for communicating to hundreds of spectators, keeping morale high and demanding the Mexican wave at any point.
It was a glorious day on Sunday, the sun beaming with a beautiful view of a snow kissed Snowdon towering over us. Joel was pushing the limits of his Bird Aeris (all-mountain bike); but mixed in with top riders on their downhill bikes, he managed to qualify 3rd! I had every faith he’d turn heads on his little bike, so wasn’t at all surprised – stoked, but not surprised.
He showed me some of the rad, controversial, lines he was taking; he couldn’t just plough through the puncturing boulders like he would on a downhill bike, so it was all about finding the smoothest line and still getting a kick ass time.
One of his lines was right at the bottom of heckle straight, so I squeezed in amongst the drunk, heckling students waiting for a front seat view of Joel’s line. I spent most of the time laughing, one dude even stopped on heckle straight where a beer was waiting for him. Mid-run he grabbed the beer, mostly spraying it rather than drinking it, and carried on – do not try this at home!
When Joel came down you couldn’t tell he was on a little bike, he looked just as fast and super smooth, before hitting the corner he hopped high on to the bank, skimming over the drunks’ toes, making the corner look so classy and cultured (If that’s doable).
Joel was psyched finishing in 5th with a 2.35.44 time only 3 seconds back from 1st
1st – Jono Jones: 2.31.67
2nd – Josh Lowe: 2.32.28
3rd – Thomas Owens: 2.33.88
4th – Sam Robson: 2.34.07
5th – Joel Chidley: 2.35.44
1st – Bex Baraona: 3.05.89
2nd – Mary O’Boyle: 3.09.03
3rd – Heather Kay: 3.17.36
4th – Samantha Dugon: 3.34.31
5th – Emily Deason: 3.34.54
Well done to all the riders and race organisers, it was a great competition to be a part of. Cheers to all you crazy students.
[fbvideo link=”https://business.facebook.com/singletrackmag/videos/10153819016848612/” width=”650" height=”400" onlyvideo=”0"]
Can’t see the video? Click here