Gravity Project Honey Series rd 2 2014 Race Report

Mud, fun and new kids on the block.
I've written a few race reports in my time and decided this time I would put a slightly different spin on it. I was fortunate to be able to accompany a keen young man, Little Sprocket (his nickname) to round 2 of the Gravity Project Honey Series at Avery Woods and give him his first taste of downhill racing. After all this series is all about grassroots, encouraging the next generation to throw a leg over a bike and hit the hills.

Words and images: Dave Diva Lane

Little Sprocket ready to to battle
Little Sprocket ready to to battle in his first ever downhill race.

Avery woods is great place to introduce new riders and keep the fast boys happy at the same time. This year the course has been extended up the top, tweaked in the middle, a few new berms added and is generally tearing up with some good ruts and roots providing a very natural flowy, fun track.

Gravity Project Honey Series Mud and Roots
Mud and roots.

Come race day with a good attendance of riders from all age brackets, mother nature decided she would throw some rain showers in the mix on to an already wet track. This made it gloopy and slippy but with the right tyres, powerful legs and some careful line choices some good racing was on the cards.

The push up, earning your ride
The push up, time to chat with fellow riders and earn your gravity.

Due to the weather, I won't lie the push up was bloody hard work but it did allow time to chat with fellow riders, watch a few fall over and for me to spread some of my DH racing knowledge to the new to be racer. So the push up I explained is where you gain your race legs and earn your gravity, like a surfer has to paddle out to catch a wave.

Gravity Project Avery Woods Start
Happy to be at the top and time for the tyres to have a clean.

Gravity Project Juvenile winner Jordan Beighton
Juvenile winner Jordan Beighton getting the peddles down off the start ramp.

Juvenile Winners:
1st Jordan Beighton 1:09.27

2nd Robert Thomas 1:11.13
3rd Charles Griffith 1:12.78

Once up the top riders where cleaning the clog from the push up and having the usual race banter, we put our bikes down and did a course walk watching the steady flow of riders practicing while discussing line choice and speed. I like to try and offer advice and think I'm pretty good at corners, I certainly lack at jumping so I have to make time somewhere.

Toby Thorburn on the right line
Toby Thorburn: Berm busting. Checkout how far in his hands are on the grips :)

Alan Peach Whisper Bikes
Whisper Bikes Alan Peach moments before a fall. Sorry Peachy but check the ripper out above.

Depending on the corner my advice is go in steady, do all your braking first, suck into the bike and hold your line and come out fast. Better to go round a corner a bit slower than fall off, especially in the wet mud. Watching we did get treated to lots of examples showing the diversity of racers that attend the Honey Series, impressive stuff.

Gravity Project Youth Winner Charlie Stubbs
Youth Winner Charlie Stubbs heading for the finish line.

Youth Winners:
1st Charlie Stubbs
2nd Felix Freebairn 1:19.35
3rd Mathew McGover 1:20.67

Once back up the top I decided to stick behind nipper and shout advice as we weaved down the course for the first time. Just wow! I'm sure I couldn't of ridden like that at just gone 12 years of age. A complete run down with no major incidents. However myself and a few fellow riders had to tell him to try and keep his wheels on the ground rather than trying to jump off things. Another practice run however and a few more mistakes started to happen. The problem, to fast into stuff, slow and steady remember.

Leo Kirby on course
Leo Kirby enjoying the mud.

Junior rider Ryan Fielder
Junior rider Ryan Fielder enjoying the bottom section.

Junior Winners:
1st Ruairi Phelan 1:11.50

2nd Will Greenfield 1:17.86
3rd Ryan Kimber 1:18.15

Practice over I decided to forfeit my race runs to help with the push up and bring you these words and pictures. (Excuse 48 from the downhillers book of excuses. It is a valid excuse) Although I do apologize for not getting more of the Junior due to helping the lad out.

2nd place senior Matt Lynn
2nd place senior Matt Lynn rails the top berm.

Senior Winners:
1st Ben Taylor 1:00.16

2nd Matt Lynn 1:03.55
3rd Matt Collins 1:05.63

On with the show. I hung around at the top for a bit and  as the tension built and the racing started to kick off I decided to leave nipper with my team mates and walk down to a bit so I could shout to him and the other riders to get the peddles on.  He didn't disappoint either along with the other whipper snappers. I have to say it's actually so cool watching these guys enjoying a sport knowing every single one at that age could go on to be the next Gee Atherton or Manon Carpenter.

Racing for the first time and looking pinned
Little Sprocket racing for the first time and looking pinned.

I say Manon and Gee as I remember Manon messing about on her bike with my friends daughter without an inkling of what was to be. As for Gee I was once quicker than him at a local race and look where he is now. So why didn't I go on to be world champ, I probably didn't think it could happen to me and I'd say I was a little over the "Hill" age wise (Cough, cough.. Steve Peat will tell you different...(Excuse 40c) ) But what I'm saying is I've seen Champions come from grass roots racing and this really is where it starts.

1st place Master Andrew Gardiner doing it for the Gravity Project.
1st place Master Andrew Gardiner doing it for the Gravity Project.

Master Winners:
1st Andrew Gardiner 1:03.45

2nd Chris Archer 1:03.55
3rd Mathew Pidgeon 1:04.455

After the first runs I ran down to bottom to see how Little Sprocket had got on and low and behold he was already making his way back up the hill, keen as mustard. Myself I decided to take a step back at this point and let him get on and enjoy it without me barking at him. (Cheers Jay)

1st place Veteran Graham Goodyear doing it for the Gravity Project with a second place overall.
1st place Veteran Graham Goodyear doing it for the Gravity Project with a second place overall.

Veteran Winners:
1st Graham Goodyear 1:02.96

2nd Richard Gilbert 1:03.76
3rd Alan Peach 1:05.10

2nd run down, due to the weather most people where running a nip slower that their first time. Little Sprocket added a lot of time with a bail on some roots and a mechanical. Not deterred we went back to the pits and fixed the bike up ready for the final run out of 3.

Gravity Project
Sorting the bikes out in between race runs and passing the knowledge down the line.

At the pits you could see the older generation helping the nippers and loving it. In fact we were kindly given a pair of goggles by one rider and a number plate by another so we could keep his as a reminder of this awesome day and enter the number board raffle as well. Thanks guys!

1st place hardtail rider Scott Fitzgerald doing it for the QECP Collective
1st place hardtail rider Scott Fitzgerald doing it for the QECP Collective. Steel is real.

Hardtail Winners:
1st Scot Fitzgerald 1:10.40

2nd Billy Austin 1:20.84

Final runs: The last runs saw a lot of people pick up time, little sprocket knocked another 5 seconds of his and had the smile to prove it. As the riders came down the results tent was filling up, funny in there you had an age span of over 40 years between some of the riders. Possible future world champions and people who to the outside world should know better.

1st place woman Rachel Powis
1st place woman Rachel Powis and the only lady to take the challenge. Come on girls!

Women Winners:
1st Rachel Powis 2:10.87

Overall Winners:
1st. Ben Taylor took the fastest time of the day and gave me a few words before he left  "I had great fun working my way down the track, hard on the pedals from start to finish. Managing to stay up right for all of my race runs was the key and I finished the day on a 1.00.16 which secured me 1st in class and the overall win. These grassroots races are brilliant fun with a friendly vibe, fair play to the Gravity Project and a shout to Tamed Earth Bikes for the support". Veteran Graham Goodyear put in a very impressive ride taking 2nd place with 1:02.96. 3rd went to Master Andrew Gardiner with 1:03.45.

I have to say worth staying to the end for as I don't think I've laughed so much in a long time... Funny as you like and everyone that raced your all winners! Check out roots and rain for the full results, we will post them on this site as well in the next day or 2. Until next time, keep it on the wheels and keep checking back for information on the next race... Love on the rocks anyone?

Looking for photos? These are available from the talented and of course rootsandrain along with results.

Yum, yum, honey!The Gravity Project Honey series is in no way connected to the honey monster. The Gravity Project don't make cereal just awesome fun packed grassroots race events for riders of all ages around the South of England.