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Dragon Downhill – Rheola

I had a pretty easy choice to make this weekend – travel 150 miles to a race,
or ten miles to a race? One race was the Dragon in Rheola, nr Swansea, the other
was a SAMS at Checkonden nr Reading. Unfortunately for me, I live near Reading, so
a long drive awaited. The course at Rheola was truly awesome. World cup style some
would argue, and Id agree. It was challenging from the word go. Even getting to the
top without choking on dust was a challenge in itself. Once at the top the first
section was a steep series of bus stops, strung one after the other like an off round
roller coaster. Out of the bus stops you piled through the wood and dropped rapidly
down to the first fire road. A brief sprint along the fire road led to the steepest
drop I have ever seen in a UK course. Not only was it steep and reasonably long,
but Jason had been kind enough to put a 90 degree right hander at the bottom of the
slope. A sickening thud could be heard as you wated at the top of the slope during
pratice runs as rider after rider became aquainted with the retaining boards at the
bottom, placed there to prevent any unwanted diversions from the course and straight
down the mountain side. Following this was probably the hardest part of the course,
where riders fought with trecherously slippery conditions to make it through the
second wood section. Here the tree cover was thick enough to prevent much light seeping
through, and so this part of the course remained muddy throughout the weekend, despite
the rest of the course drying out nicely. Out of this wooded section another steep
drop dropped onto a fire road, which was crossed to enter the final section of the
course. This was a more flowing shallower descent through woods, round berms and
through bomb holes, smooth and fast this was popular with spectators. Most rider
by this point were happy to have made it, and probably didnt notice the section too
much. The final test was a sharp drop at the very end of the course, which led into
a finishing double. Few people attemted the double though as this part of the course
was water logged and very tricky.



So who won? Pete Buterfill took a well deserved victory in the Elte Men, and Cunny
took first in the Senior men. ukDH rider Neil Harris took the second place honours
in the Senior men grabbing another podium place for the ukDH team (Team sponsors
required!). I cant tell you more than that at the moment but I will post the results
later today.



The transport was excellent, and novel too. Why use a tractor when you can sprint
four 7.5 tonne trucks up and down the hill carring 25 riders at a time instead? Nice
one Jason. The whole weekend went smoothly, and Ill certainly be back at the Dragons
as soon as I can. Other race series please take note – the dragons is a formula that
works.






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