#MakingUpTheNumbers | HSBC National Downhill Series Rd 5 – Ae Forest

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George brings us his ‘race’ report from the HSBC National Downhill Series Round 5 / SDA Round 5 – Ae Forest

“It’s your worst nightmare this isn’t it?” Binnsy isn’t wrong. After two days of glorious sunshine and dusty trails we’re on the first uplift on Sunday morning and it’s bucketing it down. The dust is already turning to slop, I can picture the roots all polished up and ‘The Elevator’; Christ, I don’t even want to think about that.

HSBC National Downhill Series
Dane Love on the step down 28th Senior

Welcome to Ae for what is both the final National of the season and the final round of the SDA Series so, there’s a lot to play for! Not for Binnsy or myself of course but for others. We’ve raced Ae seven times over the last five years and the uplift’s never been great; from 60-seater coaches going off the road to a huge chunk of riders booking last minute at the SDA race earlier this season. Thus, with the Adrenalin Uplift running on Friday we head up a day early to grab an extra day of sneaky practice. We get eight runs in whilst the SDA team mark out the track and what a track it is! It’s short, taking pretty much the most direct route down the hill at every opportunity; finishing with the ‘Step Down’, the double with the landing that’s higher than the take off and then the aforementioned ‘Elevator’; a 50ft+ ‘as close to vertical as you would ever want to ride’ drop into the finish.

HSBC National Downhill Series
If you want a top ten in Junior Men this is what you have to do… James McCarthy presses full send in the wet for 9th place.

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Comments (4)

    Easily the best part of STW. Great write-up and photos too.

    “Look ahead, breathe, don’t be a passenger, hit your lines; all the things you should be thinking about on your way down”

    Why is breathing so difficult? I find myself holding my breath whenever I’m concentrating hard and/or worried on the bike. Which is a lot!

    Cheers @uberpod! Re breathing, I don’t know mate but it is hard isn’t it, like some kind of natural fight or flight thing when you’re scared.

    Did you notice any difference with the shorter offset this round?
    Also, which bike are you changing to and why?

    I think I’d be cacking it just standing at the top of the elevator, let alone biking down it.

    In the dry you’d roll down the elevator no problem, it’s when it’s wet that it becomes challenging. If you go off the main line the first 6ft are near vertical so you have to commit. You can’t really touch the brakes as you don’t want to lose grip & then there’s a massive g-out at the bottom which is fine unless it’s muddy/full of water 🙂

    Offset… I think I described it somewhere / to someone as “having an itch that you just can’t scratch” & as time goes on I think that’s a pretty accurate description. It doesn’t itch anymore, so not conscious of the offset now, it just feels normal again!

    I think I’m going to give the Commencal a go. The main reasons for changing are:

    – This is my 3rd season on the G19/G29. When I bought it the geometry, in particular the sizing was still pretty radical. Over the last 3 years the other brands have caught up & the wheelbase / reach of the Commencal, YT & Santa Cruz are all pretty similar (XL’s around 500mm reach / 1320mm wheelbase) which is around where I am now. I rode a YT around a car park but didn’t like the shorter chain stays (listen to Matt Walker podcast dropping this week as to why shorter chain stays aren’t better!), the V10 is too expensive so I’m left with the Commie!

    – I “created” the G29 myself, updating the G19 to 29er by extending the chain stays & sticking some 49er lowers on 650b forks. Extending the chain stays but not the seta stays means the head angle slackens by 1.5 degrees so I’m running a +2 degree angle set to steepen it back up again. Being tall I run the front end pretty high but raising the front through stem spacers decreases the reach so I’m running a 60mm step to compensate. Whilst I think it feels OK I’m no engineer & I’m curious if I’d do any better on a different bike.

    Chris Porter has offered to set me a G1 up specifically for DH but whilst you can make it more travel, it works best in 175mm. It would be perfect for 75% of the tracks I’m racing next season but not for some of the bigger tracks such as Fort William & Pra Loup (Masters Worlds) so…

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