SDA Series Round 1 Ae Forest

April 20 2011

Racing has long been the lifeblood of Orange Bikes, much of our history and development is based around the track. These days we mix things up more than ever, doing fantastic alternative events with the guys from No Fuss, quirky one off races like the Hamsterley one-2-one, and everything from Nationals to the local Hospice charity challenges inbetween. Jono and I did our inaugural downhill race a couple of weeks ago at the first round of the Alpine Bikes Winter Series, and like many before us the bug was officially caught. Peter Pollock, Alan Cathro and the rest of the SDA crew are notorious for putting on blinders, so we instantly signed up to the first round at Ae Forest.

Orange Bikes Ae Forest SDA

A sunny venue for the first 2011 SDA. Ben Chennells giving the line advice...

Arriving on Friday night we quickly pitched up next to MTBcut team rider Joe Barnes and his land-ship. The Fort William contingent were here in force, with last year’s series winner Fergus Lamb keen to defend his title before heading off to South Africa the next day for the World Cup. Cathro and McGlone decided racing was a bit of a stretch from Oban while trying to prepare for their travels. Fraser’s crash at Moelfre had been a lucky escape and he was keen to get out in one piece.

Ae FOrest SDA

Ae might not be the most technical, but plenty places to catch you out.

The track at Ae took the usual start down the rocky first straight before diving over the rocks and taking the first corner wide onto the traverse. Kicking right then left down the loose stones towards the woods, riders had chance to prepare for the technical onslaught within. During practice, only the mega-pinners were getting through the dark woods with any speed. Everyone else was getting pinged around in the rut and paddling their way through and over the final stump into the open section below.

Joe Barnes Ae Forest MTBcut Orange Bikes

Ian Linton caught this shot of Joe flattening the kicker, speed...

A big boost over the step-up saw you fly into a left hander and thread the needle on the right line between two stumps. Next up and the fast riders could double up the jumps, four rollers you had to take at speed. Not been able to hit the first hard enough, Jono and I were manualling the first set which spat you out with more than enough speed to double he second set into the next section. This was the part of the track taking the brunt of attention on track walks, many going down the inside like Adam Hughes below, and a few trying to hit the very inside dropping off the stake and into the corner below.

Adam Hughes Orange Bikes Ae Forest

Adam Hughes riding the steps, shot by Ian Linton.

The fire road pedal into the rock garden, a nicely placed kicker towards the bottom seeing you jump smoothly back to dirt. Through the top of the woods and the freshly taped fun began. A tight right hander over exposed and polished roots. A short straight and then the money line, stay left through the stumps and jump high over a root and slippy off camber rock on the right. Those that did it then had to scrub enough speed to get around the next right hander, most going straight through the tape in practice. 

Orange Bike Dave Flynn Ae Forest SDA

Orange Bikes office-jockey Dave Flynn getting high over the roots.

Sliding down the next few corners, the track went off the step down, around the berms, cut the inside on the switchback and then weaved out of the gate and down the off camber run out into the field below, to the sounds of Papa Hutchens’ dulcet tones on the commentary.

Orange Bikes Liam Moynihan Ae Forest

Liam Moynihan smashing through the final corners.

Race day and the track was abundantly drier with everyone riding much quicker than the end of practice on Saturday. In Elites we had high hopes for Joe Barnes, he wasn’t too delirious with how things went at Moelfre, and was happy to be back on a more technical track where he excels. Waiting for him to come down in Elites watching from the truck at the bottom, he was nowhere to be seen. Next thing, last man down Fergus Lamb flies into view taking the quickest time. The horrible part of racing, has Joe crashed, has he had a mechanical, did he get lost pedalling to the uplift? He rolled down soon after, a flat tyre at the top of the track ruining his run, he still did a 3:09 which was pretty impressive…

Joe Barnes Orange Bikes 322 Ae Forest

Joe Barnes dropping low with a flat tyre.

Finals time and James Shirley of Cycle Jersey Orange needed to defend his fastest first run in Seniors. It wasn’t to be and Simon Cheung squeezed him out, but still a great result for James’ first full on DH race this season.

James Shirley Orange Bikes Ae step down

James Shirley keeping it low on the drop...

Liam Moynihan took three seconds off his first run time taking him up to 13th overall on his 225. Close racing at the top of Seniors made for exciting spectating.

Liam Moynihan Orange Bikes

Liam Moynihan in the roots...

In the factory stand off I had an okay first run with a 2:30 which knew I could chop down after missing a few key lines. Come race run the red flag came up on the third corner, doh! Pressure off, I hit every line on the way down to the finish, a great feeling but frustrating. I hit my ankle pretty hard on the final corner, putting me out of action for my re-run, 54th place this weekend. Jono continued his ever collected and in control race style and took two seconds off his first run to land him in 73rd position, factory pros!

Orange Bikes Jono Sykes

Jonathan Sykes is way more than the admin chief at Orange Bikes...

Vaughan Evans is a regular on the SDA circuit, when he's not painting frames in Halifax he's taking tenth in Masters on his prototype 322. Nice work V-dog.

Vaughan Evans Orange Bikes 322

Vaughan Evans keeping his feet up in the roots...

In Juvenile, Adam Hughes took third place on his Orange Five despite a sore ankle, nice work Adam.

Adam Hughes Orange Bikes

Adam Hughes, little guy, big balls!

Second run in Elites and Joe came down ahead of Adam Brayton in third but couldn’t knock Fergus Lamb from the lead. Joe is looking quick and getting back on the pace as his training picks up for the summer ahead. Joe will be missing the first round of the World Cup to work on his fitness, he’ going to be a force come the second round on his home turf.

Fergus Lamb

Race winner, Fergus Lamb and Joe Barnes will have a fight on this season.

So, massive thanks to the guys at the SDA Series for putting on an amazing first round. Fergus Lamb put it pretty well, it’s not just about the racing, it’s about “the good times”. Whether you’re racing for the first time or a seasoned pro, the SDA series is a friendly place to be with some great tracks and a fantastic crowd of competitors. While we may just be making up numbers, Jono and I are yet to peak in our racing careers, we’ll be heading to the races where we canover the coming season. Stay tuned for updates throughout the summer, and come join us.

Next up, the No Fuss Events Macavalanche...

Thanks to John and Ben Chennells for the Orange Bikes photos, and Ian Linton for everything else, prints are available on Roots and Rain, along with full results.

See you next time.




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