Charge Bikes, Somerset’s leading bike company, recently held a launch party for its 2007 range. But in typical Charge style, just parking up a row of bikes for people to look at wasn’t part of the game plan. Instead, a small group of top riders were invited to the Battle of Radstock, a kind of slopestyley/dirt jump comp at Charge’s “Radstock Recreation Ground”.
The Charge dirt compound consists of four massive 70s skatepark-style dirt bowls at the top of a small hill that
links into small pump track and then down into a heap of dirt jumps and massive berms. Thousands of tonnes of earth had been moved over the past twelve months and manipulated to create this dirt bike riders paradise that continues to evolve day by day.
Eleven riders were on the start list – Timo Pritzel,
Joscha Forstreuter, Jim Dechamp, Garry Penman, Paul Garrett, Cunny, Neil Donohue, Matt Scott, Ollie Fielder, Chris Smith and Chris Akrigg. So an interesting blend of dirt purists, DH racers and a trials rider. Dave Wardell and local Charge rider Andrew Rendell were also supposed to be riding, but both were out injured – Dave took care of the commentating instead.
Competitors started at the top of the snake run that lead down into the deepest bowl and worked their way individually down the hill to the bottom berm. They were judged on creativity, flow, style and difficulty – the idea was to connect the run smoothly and not to stop. Each rider had a qualifying run and then the top five riders went through to the final in which they then had the chance to do two runs, the best of which counted as the final score.
Jim Dechamp flew in especially for the USA and was riding amazingly until he attempted a huge 40 foot transfer in practice. He almost made it but was caught out by the loose dry conditions. He smashed himself and bike up pretty badly, which put him out of the running. Timo Pritzel and Joscha Forstreuter made the trip from Berlin and both had some pretty amazing lines going on. Timo even flipped the biggest jump, that only a few riders have even ridden at all – for this he won the “Sick O” Oakley prize for the sickest trick of the day.
Mongoose’s trials rider Chris Akrigg was also in attendance putting in some super tech lines in the upper bowls section of the course, showing that he is not only proficient at trials, but can turn his hand to pretty much any bicycle discipline with ease. Downhill
racers Neil Donohue, Cunny and Paul Garrett tried their hand at competing with the full time dirt pros. Donohue made the cut for the final, only to have to drop out due to injury.
Eventually after some astounding qualifying runs and spectacular crashes the three judges narrowed the field down to the five finalists who had to step up their runs a further notch and produced some pretty stunning final runs. Matt Scott’s no-footed back-flip to 360 was flawless; Chris Smith had numerous harsh crashes but did stick a no-handed 360 and a truck-driver; Timo Pritzel managed to flip the first and boost a huge no foot can-can over the massive last set in the downhill six-pack; Chris Akrigg’s use of the bowls, straw bale sub box and general style was unsurpassed; and Garry Penman’s clean tail-whips and 360 tail-whip attempts were pretty impressive.
It was a tough decision for the judges, but the final results were:
- Timo Pritzel (Oakley/Scott/SRAM)
- Chris Akrigg (Mongoose/Hyundai/Muc-Off)
- Matt Scott (Curtis/Howies)
- Garry Penman (Charge Bikes)
- Chris Smith (GT/Hyundai/Muc-Off)
The Charge Bikes Battle of Radstock was sponsored by Switzerland Tourism, We Clothing, Oakley, Shimano, Thor, Giro, Manitou, Answer, Circa Shoes, Syncros, Hotwheels, ODI, Dirt Worker and Fuse Protection. We’ll have a look at the actual bikes soon. You can find out more about Radstock Recreation Ground at www.chargebikes.com.