Last year's Red Bull Hardline, only the second edition and the first time they let the public in to witness this downhill showpiece, absolutely blew us away. We left feeling truly inspired after our weekend in Wales, having been in awe of the epic jumps and descents that established this event.
Two full suspension bikes, a trip to Bike Park Wales and a downhill holiday in Tignes later, it's fair to say Red Bull Hardline was the instigator of our love for the descent! Let our pics and videos from the 2016 event spark your appetite as well.
This is not an understatement. Watching these pro riders brave the mix of features at a terrifying pace puts your efforts on the mountain bike in perspective on one hand, but at the same time fuels your ambition to get out there and boost your own skills.
Dan Atherton and his digging crew are behind the design of this beast: "The mindset was to create something that tested every discipline and mixed them together into one awesome course, so it was about creating a course for the riders, something that would challenge them and that they’d love to ride" said Dan Atherton as he talks about the course details with Red Bull.
The airtime, the jumps, the near misses, the drops, the almost slips and landing clips - this spectacle covers it all on a track of 2.7km. The crowd are in constant admiration and envy as some of Britain's bravest downhill mountain bike riders put all their energy into surviving the track while seeking the thrills. The Hardline course is so daunting that each year several participants will not make it to the final - the course is tough on both bikes and bodies.
One of the big advantages of a mountain bike event like this is that you get to wander around the hills spending your day outdoors, immersed in the green scenery and stunning mountain range. As much as sporting events go, you couldn't land in a more satisfying setting.
The track guides you high up in the hills, through the woods, with nothing but a few ropes to help you get up some of the climbs, with riders flying past at regular intervals. By the time you make it to the top, you feel well warmed up and deserving of the mountain tops and waterfall views after a bit of exercise. Even with a few gaps in the schedule, everyone just seemed to settle on the ground and enjoy their surroundings.
After the seeding descents featuring rock drops, wet muddy trails in the woods, steep landings and a lot of precision bike handling, it was a close final that got us and the rest of the spectators enthused, adding to a great event atmosphere.
Gee Atherthon, whose mechanical troubles got him crawling down between the rocks with a punctured tire last year, immediately set the benchmark with his fast time, despite riding with a shoulder injury and the memories of earlier crashes on the course. Having not ridden a qualifier he was first out of the blocks, clocking a quicker time than the fastest qualifier; Bernard Kerr, putting the bar high right from the start. Atherton's time remained unbeaten throughout the final up to the point there were just 3 riders left to go.
Ruaridh Cunningham, last year's winner, was the 1st one to beat Atherton's time as he really pushed himself in the last section of the course; impressive speed and commitment. The Scot flawlessly finished the last section and jumped ahead of Gee by just over a second.
Adam Brayton was next up to aim for the top of the leaderboard. A lightning fast start hinted at a promising performance, however he raced across the line just under a second behind Ruaridh's final time.
Finally it was time for the last rider, itching to show his skills to a geared up, enthusiastic crowd: we were guaranteed a thrilling finish. Bernard Kerr came flying down the mountains and as he pulled across the finish line, he snatched up 1st place by 2.4 seconds up overall. Surviving it in one piece from start to finish was an achievement and the main goal for all riders, but these guys looked pretty pleased with their podium place - and very well deserved.
On a side note...the day out was also a great opportunity for us to test out our brand new mountain bike inspired print 'Up Lifting'. Spot the well timed mid-air flight to match - one landing a bit safer than the other, and the slight look of disappointment on David's face as he misses the action.
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If like us, you’ve always toyed with the idea of integrating vanlife into your regular travels and bike adventures, let us share with you our first experience of the rolling home. Guaranteed, it won’t be long until we’ve convinced you to ditch your car.
With Christmas just around the corner it's time to turn to the web for some gift ideas! We've put together this handy guide full of suggestions for presents for the female mountain biker in your life!
We've collated 10 ideas under £100, so regardless of your budget you've got plenty to choose from to combine or select one of the pricier ones.