RadFest 2011 and British Trials Cup Round 3

Friday 26 August 2011
by Ben Swales
popularity : 53%

JPEG - 82.8 kb Trials forums and message boards have been ablaze with chatter about RadFest over the past few months. Trials rider and promoter Jack Meek, the man behind last year’s hugely successful London street ride, has been at it again, organising a three day trials festival at Essex’s purpose-built trials and jump centre Barrow Farm, near Chelmsford. The trials community was excited! With Jack and his team, comprising site owners the Mitchell family and a handful of local riders, working flat out expanding the trials sections with rocks, logs, concrete pipes, cable reels, tyres and pallets, the already excellent venue was going to be in great condition for the event! The timetable for the weekend was jam-packed with trials action, with contests, group sessions, a speed trial, live music and a round of the British Trials Cup, there was something for everyone and always something going on!

Rad Fest 2011

The event opened on Friday afternoon, with riders from all over the country pouring through the gates to set up camp and start riding. With no contests or activities planned for the afternoon, it was a free for all on the endless sections and obstacles on offer, with riders of all ages and styles mixing it up all over the venue – big gaps and sidehops, technical sections, manuals, g-turns, brakeless madness, everywhere you looked there was something cool going on! Just as the riding was winding down for the evening the heavens opened, putting an end to the day’s fun with a shower of biblical proportions that saw everyone retreating to their tents to keep dry!

Nearly everyone was up early on Saturday, and those that weren’t were soon woken by the sound of squealing Maguras as more riding got underway. More free riding was the order of the day for most of the morning, with over 100 riders spread out across the field in various groups, all riding the obstacles in their own way. The Think Bikes crew were trying out a tech balance line, riding along a narrow wooden beam for several feet before throwing in a rolling gap to a stack of wooden pallets, moving the stack further away each time to up the ante, and the difficulty level after a few goes it was over six feet away and still they were clearing the gap from the super-narrow take off and landing with precision on their back wheels. Darren Hill then brought a new challenge to the table, riding all the way along the beam before pivoting neatly through 180 degrees on his front wheel and riding all the way back again! After some congratulatory shouting and backslapping, everyone was trying it! On the other side of the field, some of the more compy riders were working their way around the concrete pipes, placing their wheels with precision as they leapt across chasmous gaps at heights of up to eight feet in the air! Gravity? What gravity?

At about midday, organiser Jack Meek began to round up the riders with his trusty megaphone and announced that the kicker jump competition was about to start. Those not taking part crowded round to cheer on the contestants as they took it in turns to hit a small plastic kicker, flying up onto obstacles of increasing height in an effort to be the last man standing. Euan Beaden (Inspired Bicycles) was looking strong, flying stylishly through the air to land on his back wheel and hop off the other side of the obstacle. Ryan Edwards put in some good efforts as well, just coming up short on the second highest jump to crash out of the contest. Ian Johnstone also took a bad tumble, landing awkwardly and badly twisting his knee, an injury that saw him leaving the event in an ambulance. Get well soon buddy! Joe Maher (Tarty Bikes), no stranger to kickers, was flying up the obstacles with ease and finesse – the hours spent sessioning Barrow Farm obviously paying off! He took the overall win after an astonishing final jump of over five feet onto a huge tree trunk saw him knock everyone else out of the contest Second place went to Euan Beaden, who was matching Joe’s jumps until Ian’s injury saw the comp coming to an early end. Joe’s victory was decided by a panel vote, but Euan deserves some kudos for his stellar performance.

After that the riders dispersed again to session the venue until the speed trial contest later in the afternoon. The track had been laid out all weekend and riders had been trying it out in advance, with M.A.D.’s Steve Rogers, Mike Singleton and Nick Manning, Andrew Chai, James Porter and Joe Maher all clocking impressive times. Inspired’s Nick Cooke, who was riding with no brakes, spent a lot of time sessioning the track, focusing mainly on the huge aeroplane tyre in the middle. He hit it at varying speeds and using various techniques, but couldn’t quite seem to get over it; no one was sure how he would fare when it came to the contest... JPEG - 798.2 kb Meanwhile, organiser Jack Meek was jamming on the cable reel section with Nick Goddard, Steve Rogers and Jonny Jones (who was filming the whole weekend), pulling some super smooth correction-less lines, while James Porter took the mic and annoyed everyone with the PA! When six o’clock rolled round, things got underway, with Jack Meek on the mic and everyone lining the track to watch the action as the six teams pitted themselves against each other for the top prize of £200 and a bag of goodies from the event’s sponsors. The race took a relay format, with one rider from each team dropping into the start ramp and hitting the course in one direction, and the second rider taking the obstacles in reverse. The heats were over fairly quickly, with Mike Singleton and Tom Astbury, AJ Phillipson and Dan Wheeler, Andrew Chai and Nick Manning, and Kyle Livesey and James Porter all being knocked out in the first round. All anyone could talk about was Team Inspired’s heat however. Euan Beaden was on the start ramp alongside Tom Astbury, and Nick Cooke, who had been struggling with the aeroplane wheel earlier in the day, positioned himself at the other end, a long way from the line, a good eight metres behind Mike Singleton… The whistle was blown and Euan and Tom dropped in, flying down the course almost neck and neck. Euan was slightly smaller and not as strong as Tom, who built up a sizeable lead as Euan caught his back wheel, stalling on the barrels and at the top of the aeroplane wheel. Surely there was no way Nick could make up the distance, especially so far from the line? Think again! As Euan crossed the line, Nick put down the power gaining speed quickly and bunnyhopping over cable reel and the digger bucket, flying up the ramp to the aeroplane wheel, which he cleared with ease before jumping clean over the barrels and up the start ramp, leaving Mike in his dust wondering where it all went wrong! No one could believe what they had just seen and the crowd went wild as team Inspired went through!


Will Arnold has sent us these clips of Nick’s runs, so you can check them out for yourselves:

Untitled from Ben Swales on Vimeo.

Local heroes Joe Maher and Tom Rankin (both riding for Tarty Bikes), were smooth and consistent over the course, winning each of their races with ease. Steve Rogers and James Butcher were also very quick over the obstacles, beating Joe Prattley and Paul Seddon with very little trouble at all. In the end, the final race was between Joe and Tom and Steve and James, with the riders competing over three races, swapping ends each time. The Joe and Tom’s local knowledge and hours of practice saw them take the win, with Joe crossing the line with a sizeable lead over Steve-o. Third place went to Team Inspired, who despite Nick’s superhuman speed and bunnyhop skills, just couldn’t beat the local lads in the semis, but finished ahead of Joe and Paul in the third place race-off.

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After that, proceedings were handed over to local covers band The Cover Up who played a two-hour set of classic and contemporary covers to keep everyone entertained for the evening. Some riding was still going on while everyone was dancing, and once the ale started flowing the two began to mix, with Mike Singleton and Jack Meek invading the dancefloor on their bikes for some impromptu bike dancing, or ‘troshing’ as Mike called it, to some wild cheers from the crowd and band!

British Trials Cup - Round 3

Sunday saw the third round of the British Trials Cup take place, with four sections set in the main ‘arena’, on the concrete pipes, the tyres, the balance beams and the logs, and four set in the woods on the muddy banks, fallen trees and around the stagnant, swampy pond (much to a lot of riders’ consternation!). 45 riders had entered the competition and they would have to complete two laps of the eight sections during the course of the day. The weather, as it had been for most of the weekend, was glorious and conditions were set for a great trial! Those not competing divided their time between watching those brave enough to enter and riding the obstacles not in use for the competition.

The competition got underway at about 10:30, with the riders heading straight to the sections or warming up on some of the other obstacles. With many of the top Elite riders and more dedicated competitors absent due to international competitions (which they all won, by the way – it was a great weekend for the UK on the international circuit), injury or demo commitments, this round was a bit more open and saw some different riders on the podiums.


The Elite sections were of an extremely high level of difficulty, with many riders talking about how to get through the seemingly impossible log section, or the unnerving tree gap in the woods. This was the last round that would be used for British Cycling’s selection for the World Championship in Switzerland, so those not present would miss out on valuable selection points, and those in attendance were fired up and keen to win! With Sam Oliver injured and Rob Poyser not in attendance, Elite 20” was an open race; although with only two entrants, both riders were guaranteed a podium place. Tom Astbury, back from a year of injury, but in a valiant performance, riding well in the woods, but coming up short on the more daunting arena sections to finish on 29 after his first lap. Oliver Battye fared a little better in the arena, but some careless dabs in the woods saw him come in on equal points. Both riders improved their scores on their second laps, with Tom finishing on 25 to bring his score to a total of 54. Oliver seemed to have found a reserve of energy and commitment from somewhere and had obviously learned from his mistakes on the first lap, flying round and cleaning three of the wood sections and dropping just one point on the other. All eyes were on him as he entered the arena, cleaning the balance beam section with ease before going on to the tyres, where he took his time, making sure of each move to come through clean. Two fives on the extremely difficult logs and concrete pipes brought his second lap score up to eleven, giving him a total of 40 and putting him on top of the podium!

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In Elite 26” Ben Savage and Andrei Burton were missing due to demo commitments and boy wonder Jack Carthy (Tribal Zine/Tarty Bikes/Koxx) was also absent (too busy being crowned World Champion in Belgium!), so the field was slightly smaller than usual. Current British Cup Champion and Tribal Rider James Hyland was on great form, working his way quickly and effectively round the sections, dropping just four points on his first lap. He even managed to get through the dreaded log section, with its six foot tree trunk exit, on just two dabs! It claimed a five from him on his second lap however, bringing his total score up to eleven. It wasn’t enough to knock him off the top spot however, and he took another Cup win. Joe Seddon (Onza), riding 26” for the first time this season, put in a great ride to take second, dropping two fives on his first lap (the logs and the pipes), but picking himself up to radically improve his score on the second to finish on a total of 17. Dave Kerr (Tribal Zine), no stranger to the podium, had been ahead of Joe on his first lap, with only the log section giving him any real trouble. Two unlucky fives on his second lap, overshooting a gap in the pipes section and coming up short on the logs exit, denied him the silver medal and relegated him to third place.

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In the Expert 20” class it was talented London street rider Andrew Chai who took the win, racking up nine cleans on his way around and dropping just three dabs on his second lap to finish with a total of just 14! The battle for second and third was a close one, with local lad Dan Wheeler and Tyke Trial’s Jack Chapman matching each other blow for blow in the sections. They were neck and neck with 12 points apiece after their first lap, each dropping just one five, a four and three ones. The second lap would be decisive, and both were determined to do all they could to take the win. Once again, the two riders matched each other’s scores almost exactly, Jack dropped a five in the woods early on, while Dan came off on the logs sections to even the score. With two sections to go, they were still tied, and Jack managed to clean them both! All eyes were on Dan as he entered the balance beams section looking strong. An unlucky dab half way through relegated him to third place with 21 points however, leaving Jack to take the silver medal with 20.

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The race for the top three spots in Expert 26” was just as close, with just seven points separating the medallists. Romanian rider Ionut Valeanu, who happened to be on holiday in the area, took third place with a respectable 41 points. He seemed to fare better in the wood sections, struggling slightly with the more UCI style concrete pipes, logs and balance beams. Josh Kydd, who has only been competing for a short while (this is his first season), and M.A.D.’s Lee McCaw, who was riding his first competition for ten years, battled it out for the top spot. Lee was four points ahead of Josh on 21 after the first lap, with both riders picking up fives on the pipes and the logs. Josh rallied on his second lap and closed the gap slightly, finishing with 21 dabs to Lee’s 20. Lee’s experience (however long ago it was!) shone through and gave him the victory with a total of 41 points on his card, with Josh taking a well deserved second on 46. Tribal Zine’s Ben Swales suffered a bad fall in the tyre section, knocking himself unconscious and out of the running. He was back on his feet soon enough and made the most of the sunshine to watch the rest of the trial.

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In Cadet Class, after some riders had moved down to Intermediate, or up to Expert, the battle for the top spot was between Matthew Holdsworth and Chris Bland. Both riders struggled on their first lap, with the arena sections claiming most points. Scores improved on lap 2 and Chris Bland came in with a total of 59 points for both laps to take the win, ahead of Matthew on 67.

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TJ Reynoldson took the win in Intermediate once again after a consistent and impressive ride that saw him finish on just seven points. He was followed by Craig Patrick on eight and Ryan Edwards on 14.

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Local lad Toby Smith flew around the Novice sections, coming in clean on both laps to take the win with a perfect trial! Jordan Seymour finished on eight to take silver, ahead of Elliot Tickner on 17.

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Reece Seymour dropped one point on his first lap and two on his second to take the gold medal in Novice class. He was followed by Jamie Smith on ten and Tom Walker on 40. Alicia Tickner, the only female rider in the competition, rode the Primary sections and finished on 33, taking the Femina trophy.

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Full Results

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As proceedings drew to a close, with tired riders packing up their tents, or having one last attempt at nailing that line that had been eluding them all weekend, all talk was about what a fantastic and successful weekend it had been. Backs were slapped, congratulations offered and beers cracked open as the organisers, helpers and participants sat down for a well earned rest and to discuss plans for RadFest 2012… See you next year!

The next round of the British Trials Cup at Bracken Rocks, near Matlock in Derbyshire on Sunday 18th September. Entries can be made quickly and easily on-line, there’s no need to even post a letter. Everyone is welcome, either as a rider or as a spectator - no licences or memberships are needed to enter this event. Pre-entry would be good as it helps the organisers to prepare, but entries will be taken on the day if necessary (cost you an extra fiver though). They already have 2 lady entries, if a 3rd comes in they’ll run a Femina Class - are there any more lady riders out there? Bracken is an excellent venue which includes loads of huge rock sections in a woodland setting. If you’ve never entered a competition before, why not give it a go now in an easy, relaxed and friendly atmosphere? Non-UK riders are welcome to come along and try the Great British sections!


Photos by Ben Swales and Paul Hesling. Local photography club C.U. Photos were also on hand taking photos of the event. Head over to their gallery to see their great shots: www.cuphotos.co.uk

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