Wednesday Nov 28, 2012

Race Report: PORC, Penshurst Downhill Winter Race

Some people wonder why the British are so good at riding their bikes when it's lashing it down at UCI Downhill Races. There’s really only one explanation... Us Brits love riding whatever the weather and most of the time the conditions are a mixture of rain, wind and mud. A lot of mud. This weekend’s grassroots race at PORC in Kent was one of those races where the weather played a big role. Sadly, with so much rain over the last few weeks, the race organisers were forced to close parts of the track the day before the race in order to preserve some sections.

Overall race winner Glenroy Martin getting down to business at PORC.

On race day, those who arrived early were treated to crisp, bright blue skies. The car park soon filled and riders and their bikes started getting muddier and muddier as they practiced their race runs. The track was designed and built by Mike "South African Mike" Joseph, with the unfaltering help of Terry Stag on the digger, along with a dedicated team of local trail builders. Riders were treated to a track completely revamped from start to finish. The marshals and medics had their work cut out in such miserable conditions, but rose to the challenge with excellence.

With the clock ticking, and knowing that their was not much daylight as Autumn draws to a close, racing kicked off at 11am. As usual, the race consisted of three timed runs with the best run counting towards final times. You could see the nerves in the riders eyes as they lined up at the start ramp to take their turn, and then the first rider took off down the track.

It was evident that the steep tight switchbacks were one of the first challenges.

This was soon followed by a seven foot slippery ladder drop...or the chicken run around it.

Just when riders thought they could take a breather, the rock garden loomed, claiming a lot of victims and their bikes!

After exiting the rock garden, riders were faced with a treacherously muddy second half of the track. The new road gap feature was ultra slippery with a landing onto sloppy clay and mud. You were then faced with a superior, long and opening switchback. If riders so much as touched their brakes, they would be off their bikes and eating the fine Kent mud. This was followed by a downhill straight which is very fast in the dry, but come race day, riders struggled to pick up enough speed, with many opting for the chicken run. Despite the lactic acid-filled limbs and breathlessness, riders rounded the the last corner, hit the stream gap and crossed the finish line, happy to have made it down.

The lunch break saw the arrival of the Monster Energy truck, surprising all the riders and spectators. The handing out of loads of energy drinks and stickers put big smiles on all the muddy faces. Not sure if Monster planned on a mud-flavoured drink but with the amount of mud caked onto everyone's faces, it was hard not to taste a bit of Kent’s finest.

Monster Energy, keeping the riders going.

Thankfully, Mother Nature took pity on the riders and spectators and postponed the next downpour until just after the last runs had finished. Cue everyone cramming under PORC’s clubhouse roof for a very cosy prize-giving, with awesome podium prizes for the victors and plenty of raffle prizes for the competitors. Despite the rain and the mud it was a perfect finish to a great day’s racing in the UK. Lots of happy faces, and knackered riders...isn't that what British grassroots racing is all about?

With a few grassroots teams vying for the top spots, representatives from national series race teams were using PORC as a warm up to their 2013 season. We spoke to Mark Harris, Team Manager for Team Aston Hill about how his team faired in the race:

“I'm very pleased with the whole team today with four podiums out of a possible six; Glenroy Martin took the win in Seniors and the Overall, Al Warrell won in Youth and father and son, Joe and Alfie Killner both got third in Vets and Juveniles respectively. The track was a good mix of tech and gnarl, with the rock garden causing many problems for a lot of riders. Darren Evans in only his 3rd race ever came joint third place in Seniors but got bumped to 4th from the times of his previous runs. Ironically, if he had entered in the Hardtail category, he would have been first by a massive margin! Big thanks to the guys at PORC for putting on another good grassroots race!”

Testing Conditions for all the riders.


1st Glenroy MARTIN (Senior Men) 0:51.24
2nd Ant JONES (Senior Men) 0:51.35 (+0.11)
3rd Josh LOWE - Junior Men 0:51.63 (+0.39)
4th Brandon LOVE - Senior Men 0:51.78 (+0.54)
5th Darren EVANS - Senior Men 0:51.78 (+0.54)

Senior Men:
1st Glenroy MARTIN 0:51.24
2nd Ant JONES 0:51.35
3rd Brandon LOVE 0:51.78

Master Men:
1st Jay SHAW 0:55.82
2nd Guy THERAN 0:57.39
3rd Clint TIMMIS 1:00.28

Veteran Men:
1st Andrew JACQUES 0:59.57
2nd Justin REVELL 1:01.13
3rd Joe KILLNER 1:03.09

1st Katie LOVE 1:18.32

Junior Men:
1st Josh LOWE 0:51.63
2nd Jack WELLS 0:55.78
3rd Tom THAIN 0:56.99

Youth Men:
1st Alistair WARRELL 0:54.58
2nd McAulay FRIEND 1:00.59
3rd Alastair HOLLAND 1:02.28

Juvenile Men:
1st Thomas DAVIES 1:03.64
2nd Oliver CROSDIL 1:05.20
3rd Alfie KILLNER 1:09.60

Young Ripper:
1st Aaron BENNETT 2:09.62
2nd Sebastian REVELL 2:20.01
3rd Cameron ROSS 2:53.18

1st Scott FITZGERALD 0:58.85
2nd Charlie EVANS 1:00.25
3rd Shaun WREN 1:08.77

Full race times can be found on Mikrotime's website.

Photos courtesy of Milo Runger-Field
Words by geebeebee media and Mike Joseph

Thanks to: Monster Energy , Madison, Shimano MTB, Whisper Bikes, Moose Cycles, Drift Cycles, Lidino Graphics, Mikro Time, Tenn Outdoors and PORC - Mike Westphal (owner of PORC for hosting the race).

Channels: Mountain Bike