Team Chain Reaction Cycles rider Elliott Heap made his Red Bull Hardline debut over the weekend, taking a break from enduro to race one of the most spectacular downhill courses ever created!
Team Manager Nigel Page was trackside to bring us this report:
Red Bull Hardline is the brainchild of legend Dan Atherton and this year was the seventh edition of the crazy downhill race – pushing the limits of what the world’s best riders and their bikes are capable of! Unless you are there to see the track and what these lads are doing in real time, you cannot grasp the size of the features and the scale of the whole track.
This year for the first time ever the track was bone dry and dusty which made it challenging and there were a few new additions to the track:
- The famous road jump had been made a couple of metres longer and higher which is incredible
- The big metal booster jump had been made a little more mellow but longer! And when you landed there was a new huge blind step down into a flat-out section which was probably the most spectacular bit of mountain biking I have ever seen
Team Chain Reaction Cycles’ Elliott Heap was there to give it his first crack along with veterans of Red Bull Hardline, Nukeproof’s Adam Brayton and Vitus’ Joe Smith.
Saturday’s qualifying was ditched in the end as the wind was just too strong and unpredictable for some of the jumps so the schedule was changed to three hours of practice and then everyone to race the finals.
A few of the riders were already out of the race due to either injury or destroyed bikes, which was a real shame as every single rider rode amazingly well in the practice sessions. It’s a strange vibe at this event as every rider is helping and encouraging each other just to get through the track cleanly and safely and no-one is super keen to rush back up for another run once they have got down the track safely. That just shows how gnarly the track is as these guys are not usually scared to ride their bikes.
Elliott rode the track confidently and looked super comfortable on the massive jumps and features, taking his time to hit everything with no issues.
When we finally got to the race runs, it was crazy to see how the riders not only seemed to hit all the features with ease and precision but how much faster they stepped up their riding and this year in the dust it looked more like a flat-out downhill World Cup race run!
Elliott was on an absolute flyer and was a second up on the split time after the huge booter and step-down until he unfortunately ripped a big hole in the sidewall of his rear tyre ending his chances of a result and just finishing his first Red Bull Hardline race.
It was super disappointing for Elliott after the whole week of riding so well and dealing with the nerves and stress of the event. I’m super proud of him, how he rode, handled the week and he deserved a lot more. He was hugely disappointed but should be proud of himself and all the riders praised him on how he was riding. Well done buddy.
I would like to say a big thank you to Red Bull UK, the Dyfi dig crew and everyone who raced and was involved in what I think is the best downhill race in the world!
It was a great week hanging out with our crew Elliott Heap, Adam Brayton, Oli Greensmith and Filmsmith media, awesome week boys! Thanks to Moonhead media for the amazing photos.