April 11, 2017, by Kate Rothery
Blog: Jono Jones takes third consecutive BUCS Downhill title
This weekend in Scotland, University of Nottingham student Jono Jones made history in the university Downhill Mountain Biking championships, winning his third consecutive British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) event. In a guest blog, he tells us how it all unfolded!
By Jono Jones – University of Nottingham Sports Scholar
After a brief trip to New Zealand racing round 1 of the International ‘Crankworx’ series in Rotorua, I had a couple of days in Nottingham to catch up on coursework and then it was time for BUCS Downhill 2017. The venue this year was Innerleithen in Scotland, which was used in 2015 for my first BUCS event. After being fortunate enough to take Gold in my first two years, I was eager to make it a hat-trick in my third and final year at Nottingham.
The team met at our accommodation Friday evening where I built my bike from the box it was in after the flight home from New Zealand.
We were up early to walk the track together. The course was about 2km long and was in dense woods top to bottom. Although it was held in the same location as 2015, a different track was used this year but it followed a similar theme of fast and tight in the trees, with little light getting through to the track.
To get the riders and bikes up the hill the organisers provided cattle trucks for the bikes and coaches for the riders which helped get the 300 riders to the top of the track.
After seeing what the track had to offer, we made some adjustments to the bikes to suit the track and it was time for practice!
The format for the weekend was timed practice on Saturday, followed by qualifying and finals on Sunday. We took to the track for practice and it was LOOSE! There were a lot of slippery roots and loads of rocks rolling about and grip was hard to find. After making more adjustments including lowering tyre pressure and softening suspension, practice got easier with the increased grip this provided and we started building speed. I did a full timed practice run towards the end of the day and after checking results in the evening I was chuffed to see I was fastest on the Saturday. Although encouraging, you never know what other riders are doing in practice and whether they put a fast run together so Sunday is always a bit of an unknown.
Sunday arrived and we headed up early for some practice before qualifying. With everyone eager to go racing there was a lot of people waiting to get on the track up the top!
The results from timed practice seed the order for qualifying in reverse order, so I was last to come down. After seeing everyone explode out of the start hut and into the woods, I gave my all in qualifying and was stoked to cross the line with the fastest time. UoN’s Joe Buck qualified in 6th with an awesome run and George Cairns just missed out on the top 100 positions that qualify after he crashed near the bottom of his run. We were gutted for him as he was on a good pace! Jamie, Pete and Lizzie all missed out on qualifying but were riding really well!
The 100 men that qualified and the 10 women headed back to the top for their finals runs. It’s always a nervous time waiting up there and I tried to keep pedalling around to keep warm and take my mind off what was to come. Soon after cheering Joe on as he sprinted onto the track, I rolled into the start hut as last rider down the hill. It was just myself and the start commissaires at the top so it was very quiet! There are 30 second gaps between the riders and so not long after the 2nd qualifier had set off, it was my turn.
I had a really good finals run, staying smooth where I could and pedalling hard where it was possible. Other than punching two trees with both hands and cutting my knuckles, it was mistake free and down the bottom of the track there were hundreds of riders making a racket, ringing cow bells and blowing air horns. I was over the moon to cross the line into 1st, with an 8 second gap to 2nd place! Joe also finished 4th just off the podium which was an amazing ride.
The BUCS Downhill events are amazing and I’m really gutted I’m not going to be racing one again. All 3 that I’ve raced have ran seamlessly and the atmosphere is always amazing, especially during finals! It feels great to have won 3 in a row and to contribute to UoN’s BUCS standings and I can’t thank the Uni enough for their support. #GreenAndGold