Here are a few words to summarise the BDSL’s first full season, along with videos to give you a taste of each track.
Abercynon – by Ed Carter
A defiant start to the season as a soggy day became one of the best attended BDSL events of 2017. Many rolled the dice with the weather but nobody seemed to feel they’d lost out as relatively technical corners demanded the best from UKDH riders to negotiate the wet.
It wasn’t just those on boards shining through the grey backdrop; minutes racked up as a spotter can be the measure of a skater. Blind corners make a handful of watchful eyes essential for safety. Helmets off to those who endured more than their fair share of trench foot.
The wetter the course, the more the cautious are rewarded, occasionally giving the less experienced a fighting chance. Competitive riders prepared to play on what was looking to be something of a level playing field. Road width, coupled with the weather made even two person heats quite a spectacle and the season started with the return of familiar faces to the podium. Ras Sarunas Rasalas in third, Jonny Braund second, and Aaron Skippings first. Naturally, Aaron matched his stand-up result in the luge too with Gareth Chamberlain, then John Lee close behind. With Abercynon kicking off 2017 the standard of racing was set high from the get go.
Tregaron Freeride – by Jack Patten
Tregaron Freeride, AKA Tregz, is rightly becoming a staple of the UKDH calendar. A challenging, yet beginner friendly closed road with uplifts and camping right next to the track, what’s not to love! Much to our surprise, Saturday began with dry weather and riders spent the day (re)familiarising themselves with the track.
The weather deteriorated overnight so Sunday morning’s practise was on a wet track which gradually became patchier throughout the day meaning some riders decided to change their wheels part way through racing. The luge field was the largest of the season and racing was incredibly tight with several late overtakes thrown into the hairpins. Aaron and Gareth topped the podium once again with Ben Bewley close behind in third. As the semis approached, misty rain began falling, the uplift van gradually emptied, the crowd swelled, and excitement levels grew. The skills of the remaining riders were tested to the limit with the ever-changing grip levels but Kurtis the consistent Canadian came out on top, followed closely by two of the UK’s most elusive yet skilful riders, Olly Goodwin and Joe Baldwin. Make sure you put Tregz 2018 in your diary on the 16th and 17th of June 2018.
Gurston – by Ed Carter
Gurston is a rare and tricky beast by UK standards. Given its function as a hill climb track, the lack of traffic on gravity sport days gives a blissful break from the need for spotting. However, a cushy row of railway sleepers, set into the grass bank on the first right, still give plenty of food for thought. Pick your line carefully because a wrong move will certainly see you spat out onto the field or swiftly skimmed across the grass towards the sleepers. Take it steady, and you’re in for a game changing day of whizz-plankery.
Obviously you go nowhere without a helmet or leathers. For those who do find themselves on the side-lines, the day is still far from wasted. The time trial format of Gurston demands rapid skating and heavy braking. Like “holy sh*t was that an earthquake or Pete Connolly’s foot hitting the ground” type braking. This was the order of the day, Mr. Connolly’s thunderous stomping prompting his shoe to leave smoke trails to victory with a best qualifying time of 53.75 seconds. Vandem skate shop continued to be well represented on the podium with Chris Vanstone (53.78 secs) in second and Jonny Braund (54.50 secs) third.
Bo Peep – by Ed Carter
A fittingly glorious day in 2017 for hurtling down a ribbon of concrete into a tree. For first-timers, Bo Peep is best thought of as a fruit ‘n’ nut bar. It appears tasty on the outside but once you bite into it you start to notice the nuts (startling undulations in the surface of the road). You don’t let these perturb you because you like the overall experience. Then you choke on an oat (that corner). You hold on for dear life and eventually make it. By the time you’ve finished you’re pumped to be alive and, quite frankly, fancy seconds.
After tentative wanderings up the initial part of the straight to test the hefty lefty, so fondly dubbed “Carnage corner,” uplift drivers pulled through to ensure racers got full runs in. Initial wobbles over surface consistency had now calmed just enough for some solid heats. The purple leather-clad arse of Ben Stainer brought up the rear of the podium in third, Jonny Braund grabbed second and the black and gold bullet that is Aaron Skippings made off with first. In luge, Peter Elliot barrelled into first place, with Gareth Chamberlain, then Paul Trice bringing up the rear. Join us for more of the same in 2018.
Bleek – by Jack Patten
A personal favourite hill of mine and a great place to push yourself to speeds of 40mph and over, with the possibility of speeds exceeding 60mph (even in the wet).
The remote and elevated location means the weather is rarely perfect, hence the name, but even in wet conditions high speeds and tight racing are possible. There is no shortcut up the mile long track so an uplift van was very welcome, as was the shelter and body heat of the other riders on the way up. Due to the speed of the track racing was done in two-man heats but this didn’t detract from the excitement one bit. Despite the track drying steadily throughout the day a continual stream flowed across the track just before the air-brake zone into the bottom chicane. As the racing progressed riders fought tighter and tighter draft battles on the top section with several close overtakes into the chicane, seemingly not fazed by the aforementioned stream.
The consolation final was a close fought affair won by Oli Slaughter against the battered and bruised Josh Monk. Completing his clean sweep in the final, Kurtis Dawes took top spot once again followed closely by Jonny Braund. The luge field was relatively small because few people braved buttboarding at such speed but Aaron was unfazed as ever, taking top spot followed by Gareth and Oli Slaughter.
Fumble in the Valley (FITV) – by Ed Carter
As the BDSL 2017 season came close to its conclusion, one couldn’t help but wonder how we’d lucked out(ish) with the weather for much of it. Then it was time for Sheepy and we found where the rain had been hanging out since Tregaron. The river of sheep filth had turned the course into the Welsh edition of Total Wipe Out. A “heats then pub?” approach to the situation was swiftly adopted.
With practice runs mainly consisting of trying to make it down the hill without your board being washed away, race time came around fast. Few lines were held, some riders having to remount their boards metres from the finish line in a desperate dive for victory (yours truly). However, the day still ended up with three big grins taking to the podium (picnic bench). Brianne Collective’s Tom Campbell stood in third, with a chuffed, slightly confused Ed Carter (me!) in second. The jammiest grin was Jonny Braund’s, back in first place, claiming the top spot in the BDSL stand-up rankings for 2017.
Check out the event details for FITV 2018.
Bolsterstone – by Sabina Edwards
Hosted by Bank Lane Bad Bois (BLBB)’s Oscar Taylor, this regional event is now in its second year and comes fairly late in the season, enabling a few final BDSL points to be acquired before the year end. Located just outside Sheffield, Bolsterstone is a short 1min 30sec run with speeds topping out at just over 40mph and grippable corners, in the dry, creating extremely tight and exciting racing.
However, this year, due to a hiccup at the petrol station, the Shinnie cab of riders didn’t make it, resulting in only 6 riders taking part. The first couple of hours were spent freeriding and getting used to the fall of the road, the sweep of the curves and the sweet left/right chicane. Louis, Oscar and I went through to the finals with podium going to Louis (1st), Oscar (2nd) and me (3rd). In the luge, Andy Speight, Dreek Speers (Team Sp8Boards) and Dan Ravenall competed with Andy taking 1st place, Dreek 2nd and Dan 3rd on the podium. Also, a vital part of any open road event, appreciation must be given to marshals and Jen Taylor did an awesome job. The amazing scenery of the Peak District and the incredible views from this hill all go to making Bolsterstone one of the most fun hills in the BDSL calendar.
After an exciting year racing in 2017 make sure to join us for the 2018 events!