Location: Rheola Forest, Merthyr Tydfil
Event: 23-24 March 2012
The 2012 BUCS Barefoot Wine Downhill MTB Championships took place for the very first time at Rheola, Neath, South Wales last weekend as 350 riders travelled from all over the UK to represent their universities on the technically demanding run considered to be within the top five most challenging courses in the UK.
Riders and spectators were greeted by unusually warm temperatures as the sun shone down over them throughout practice on the Friday and into Saturday’s competition. In the first round all 350 riders attempted to make the time for the Championship round with the top 100 competitors progressing in to the final Championship round to take a shot at the podium places.
The men’s championship was decided in dramatic scenes as Emyr Davies (UWIC) currently tenth in this year’s national male elite mountain bike downhill rankings, piped Jack Reading (University of Manchester), and ranked four places higher than Emyr in this year’s current national standings, to the championship gold by just 0.072 of a second. The drama unfolded late in the day when in the penultimate run Jack set the quickest time of the day completing the downhill run in an impressive 3:05.451 with only Emyr left to go.
Jack took his place on the hot seat, reserved for the rider with the quickest time of the day, but within a matter of seconds he was toppled from his throne as Emyr crossed the line in 3:05.379 to successfully defend his 2011 championship title. The fantastic battle between two of the very best riders in the UK was not unappreciated by the crowds who had gathered to watch the drama unfold and to see the pair collect their gold and silver medals to loud cheers and applause.
The women’s race was won in much more comfortable fashion by defending champion Jess Stone. Jess who was the 2010 elite women’s downhill national champion was competing in her final BUCS competition as she is now in her final year of University at Worcester, and will now bow out as champion.
"My finals race run went well, it was smooth and I was happy with how I rode. I am so pleased to have defended my 2011 title to win the 2012 BUCS Barefoot Wine Championships. It was the last BUCS race I will compete in and to draw a close on the event on a high was a great moment."
Speaking to BUCS after being crowned champion Jess said: “The weekend overall was amazing. I had such great fun and thoroughly enjoyed riding at Rheola. We were exceptionally lucky with the weather which certainly helped with the atmosphere; the students were out in force with the heckling during the racing! It was fantastic to see so many people having a go on what is a challenging course!
“My finals race run went well, it was smooth and I was happy with how I rode. I am so pleased to have defended my 2011 title to win the 2012 BUCS Barefoot Wine Championships. It was the last BUCS race I will compete in and to draw a close on the event on a high was a great moment; I will certainly look back on these events with fond memories.”
In the men’s team results Edinburgh University finished ahead of UWIC and Dundee to take gold and improve on their bronze medals from last year.
Ed Curran, BUCS Sports Manager said: “The BUCS Barefoot Wine 2012 Downhill MTB Championships were a great success with riders from all over the UK pitting their skills against each other in perfect conditions. Congratulations to Jess, Emyr and Edinburgh University for taking the 2012 titles, and well done to all riders who competed. BUCS would like to thank our title sponsors Barefoot Wine, partners Red Bull, event partners Naked Racing, WDMBA, and Extreme Medics and the support of Welsh Cycling, British Cycling and the Forestry Commission.”