Last weekend I went along as a helper at the first round of the Specialized Winter Series downhill mountain bike race, held at Hopton Castle. Close on 250 riders took part. The skill and daring of some of the young guns has to be seen to be believed. On a muddy track, latticed with slippery tree roots, and greasy rocks the speed at which the top riders go is incredible. They appear totally fearless, as if their life depended on saving every second. Look into their eyes as they go past and you’ll see extreme concentration.They fly through the air for yards, and land with the softest kiss of the ground. They’re so smooth. Contrast that with some of the novice riders who land with a thud, and you know that it’s only the suspension of the bike that has saved them. As the top riders approach the finish line they sprint, out of the saddle, head down, legs a blur. After just over three minutes it’s all over, some of them fall to the ground gasping for air having given their all. With a timing system that can time them to the nearest 100th of a second giving everything is the only way.
At the end of the day there was one cut lip, one suspected broken collar bone (which turned out to be OK), and two broken ribs owned by a spectator who had decided to get too close to the action, ouch!!!