Halo British Downhill Series Moelfre Hall

April 11 2011

The Halo British Downhill Series headed to Moelfre Hall near Oswestry for a ridiculously fast second round on the steep Welsh hillside. Plunging around 310 meters towards sea level, the track sets off from the trig point straight to the valley bottom below.

Moelfre Hall MTBcut Orange 322 Ben Cathro Fraser McGlone

Ben Cathro and Fraser McGlone, on top of the world at Moelfre...

The windswept top section requires maximum concentration to hit every line perfectly, the gorse filled mid section keeps things loose before a high speed road crossing to the more gradual traverse below. Sweeping around the hill and through the speed trap, riders hit over 30mph before slowing for the controversial rhythm section, a make or break six-pack into a loose left hand corner.

Ben Cathro Orange Bikes 322 Moelfre Hall BDS

Ben Cathro getting lofty on the awkward third jump...

The final berms shoot you between the only trees on track, the final compression bucking you onto Farmer Jack’s prime grazing land. The pit area a suitable closing enclave, the whole event village was a much more homely atmosphere than the difficult first round.

Thoughts from the riders? Everyone was enjoying the sunshine and hitting lines hard and fast, opportunities to make time were few and far between, but any loss of momentum or pedal clip would be catastrophic to hopes of victory. The only part dividing opinion was the big jump section towards the end, riders had to commit to clear the section quickly, or those uncomfortable with airtime would lose out completely. The first double was essentially a setup jump, with the second taking riders pretty high for a massive pump and quick pedal stroke if going for the third. Those who failed here would likely lose everything they’d made higher up the track, and while the jury is out for many, it made a great spot to watch. Thoughts go out to the jump’s biggest casualty; please support the air ambulance; their services were unfortunately required three times this weekend…

Moelfre Hall BDS Orange Bikes MTBcut

Help support the air ambulance, you never know when it could be for you...

Fraser McGlone, MTBcut’s newest signing and Junior victor from Nant Gwrtheyrn, was last to take his qualifying run and took a thoroughly respectable third place. Happy he could improve on his time he was confident for his race run later in the afternoon.

Setting out of the start gate Fraser was on for a good run, clearing the awkward step down where the wind claimed a few casualties in practice. As he cut his way down the sweeping corners things went a bit awry, heading into the compression before the jump and left hand berm entering the mid-section, he took a massive dive over the bars. Battered and bruised he collected himself and finished his run, taking a mentally quick second split along the way.

Fraser McGlone Orange 322 MTBcut BDS Moelfre

Fraser winding it up towards the speed trap...

Fraser got down the hill in 38th position, doing well to get up and continue racing after such a hard stack. The consummate professional, Fraser took the hit well and will be taking it easy in preparation for the South Africa World Cup in a couple of weeks time.

Fort William local and all-round trail ripper Joe Barnes has won at Moelfre before and is quickly working back up to his prime after a couple of ski-weapon crashes earlier in the year.  Rooming in Fegus Lamb’s land-cruiser imitation, Joe was hoping for a good result at Moelfre.

Orange Bikes Moelfre Hall Joe Barnes MTBcut BDS

Joe Barnes likes cereal lots...

A good qualifying result, Joe placed mid-pack for Elite race runs and thundered his MTBcut Orange 322 down the Moelfre hillside, but a couple of mistakes cost him high up the track. Finishing his run with a smooth run through the jumps and a sprint to the finish, Joe came in 31st.

Joe Barnes Orange Bikes MTBcut Moelfre BDS

Joe Barnes getting drifty in the dust...

Ben Cathro was keen to make his mark after a scrappy race run at Nant G and with two weeks training in Spain with McGlone and Hutchens, he was firing for the dusty conditions in Wales. Practising hard, Ben took the brunt of the wind and attempting to clear the road completely, the wind turned him down the hill as he rode it out in style. Later on in practice, Ben hit the deck hard and sat out a run or two to collect himself.

Ben Cathro Orange Bikes MTBcut Moelfre

Ben couldn't work out why his apple was so furry...

Race day and Ben was on the pace and seeded pretty well for his race run. No-braking the run up to the fireroad crossing, Ben blew off the pedals and careered off the track. Getting back on the gas, Ben muscled his way to the hot seat in place of fellow Scotsman Fergus Lamb.

Ben Cathro Orange Bikes MTBcut Moelfre BDS

Ben exiting the jump section quicker than most...

Cathro couldn’t rest for long, Brendan Fairclough put in a great result for the hot seat, only to be beaten by Steve Peat and Oswestry local Gee Atherton. Ben finished in a pretty competitive ninth place, good preparation for South Africa.

Elsewhere in the Orange Bikes contingent, Cycle Jersey Orange rider Chris Hutchens came 37th in Elite. Hutch will be heading out to South Africa to make the winter training pay as he accompanies MTBcut’s Fraser McGlone and Ben Cathro.

Chris Hutchens CycleJersey Orange Moelfre BDS

Chris Hutchens on the pace after his Spanish training mission...

The Continental team were representing on their team 224-Evolution race bikes, Rob Scullion looking after Michael Inman and Duncan Porter in the Expert category. Still carrying injuries, they finished 46th and 36th respectively.

Continental Orange BDS Moelfre

Michael Inman keeping it tight on the inside...

So another race down, and the season has properly kicked off, thanks to the guys from MTBcut, Derek McGlone for his work in the pits, the British Downhill Series, and all the sponsors who make racing possible.

See the full results on Roots and Rain.

Photos by John Chennells.


Coming up next weekend:

The No Fuss team will be at the Scottish Bike Show, visit their stand and sign up for some summer festivities. Oh, and they have a prototype Orange 322 on display to tempt you over…

Ae is also playing host to the first round of the SDA Series. We’ll be there and taking part…   


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