Firecrest MTB – Northampton Bike Park – MTB Skills Courses

Firecrest MTB have a number of mountain bike skills training courses coming up at Northampton Bike Park. Here are the dates and booking details for our Young Rider Skills Courses coming up at the end of May and in the Half Term Holidays.

Northampton Bike Park – Young Rider 3hr Basic Skills
Sunday 26th May

10am – 12pm – 6-11yrs of age
Northampton Bike Park
Book your place here>>>

Northampton Bike Park – Adult Bike Park Skills Course
Sunday 26th May

1pm-4pm – 16yrs+ of age
Northampton Bike Park
Book your place here>>>

Northampton Bike Park – Young Rider 3hr Progression Course
Wednesday 29th May

10am – 1pm – 11-16yrs of age
Northampton Bike Park
Book your place here>>>

Blockhead Energy Gum Downhill Racing Team 2013 – Josh Lowe, Season Review

Josh Fort Bill StartStraight out of the blocks and Josh started the season as he meant to go on, with a win at the opening round of the British Downhill Series (BDS) in Combe Sydenham. It was a fantastic start to the race season considering the team was just an idea at the start of the year. It’s no mean feat to go from an idea to the top of the podium in the Expert Category in three months, phew! We are lucky that we are sponsored by and energy product!

From the south coast of England we headed north to the Scottish Highlands for the second round of the BDS in Fort William. With plenty of World Cup Downhill regulars in attendance it was a fast and furious weekend on the mountain. Unfortunately a front puncture in Josh’s race run, just over a minute into the track put paid to any chances he had of a podium repeat. Fortunately it’s four from five rounds that count t the overall, but it’s still a really long drive home after a disappointing result like that!

Round 3 was always going to be a tough one, falling right in the middle of Josh’s A-level final exams. Had he done well in Fort William the plan was to miss this round so he could focus on his exams. To be fair he managed to forget the pressure and focus on getting his championship challenge back on track. Josh finished in seventh place with the top 10 split by a matter of seconds; it was good to get some more points in the bag and get Josh home in one piece to finish off his exams so he could focus on his racing for the rest of the year.

With his A-level’s complete it was time to hit mainland Europe with a trip out to Leogang in Austria for the first round of the IXS European Cup Downhill. The IXS is a stepping stone between the BDS and the Downhill World Cup. With the opening round of the World Cup in Fort William also in the middle of his A-level Exams it was the first time this season that Josh would test himself against the best in European downhill racing.  Coming home in 37th place against such a talented field underlined Josh’s potential.

Then it was back to the UK for the fourth round of the BDS series which took place at Llangollen in North Wales.  Llangollen is a fast and twisty track that suited Josh from his first practice run and he was flying down the track in practice. Going into the race it was his to lose and for and for the second time in the season Josh crossed the line with the fastest Expert time to take another win and really ignite the race for the BDS Expert series title.

With Josh moving to from the junior category to expert in 2013 the aim of the year was to move straight through the category and get a converted place in the Elite category for 2014. With Josh leading the British Cycling rankings at the mid-point of the season and with two wins at the BDS series already in the bag there was a real possibility that this would be a very achievable goal.

With that in mind the British National Championships were the first chance to see how Josh would fair against the best riders in the UK. Whilst at the BDS there are categories based on age and ability for the National Championship only the rider’s age matters. With one senior Championship category Josh was up against the best. Not only the best in the UK but with Gee Atherton leading the World Cup Downhill Series and racing legend Steve Peat looking for a ninth British title the best racers in the World were in attendance too.

Blockhead Energy Gum Downhill Team Rider Josh Lowe on his way to 18th place at the 2013 National Championships at Bala

Blockhead Energy Gum Downhill Team Rider Josh Lowe on his way to 18th place at the 2013 National Championships at Bala

Practice went well and Josh qualified inside the top 20 achieving the first target for the weekend. In the finals he put together a near perfect race run to stop the clock on 3.35.16 good enough for 18th place and a sign of things to come in 2014.

With the World Cup heading back to Europe, Josh had done enough to earn a converted place on the Great Britain Mountain Bike Downhill Team and was eligible to race at round 3 in Vallnord, Andorra.  If it’s a step up racing in the IXS Series it’s a leap to racing the World Cups. The first target is qualifying and with only 80 places on offer for the men this isn’t easy. Unfortunately a puncture in qualifying put paid to Josh’s chances. It wasn’t the end of the world though, just the end of a frustrating weekend.

Off the back of the World Cup it was straight back into IXS action. With a point to prove Josh headed to Pila in Italy for round 3 of the IXS European DH Series. Pila has a monstrous downhill track that’s a favourite with the World Cup racers. Coming home in 46th place in a stacked field of over 200 riders Josh chalked up another great result. From Italy the team travelled to Switzerland to race round 4 of the IXS series on the popular Wiriehorn track. Again Josh pushed his Trek Session to its limit for the whole weekend and finished in 44th place, closing in on his target of a top 30.

Back in the UK it was business as usual at finals of the British Downhill Series in Bringewood.  Josh came home in 6th and secured second place overall in the series. Whilst he was so close to wrapping up the overall title, second was an amazing achievement in his first season as an Expert and would be enough to guarantee him a converted place in the Elite category for 2014! “Job done” as they say.

The season wasn’t over though and it was time to head out to Chatel, France and round 6 of the IXS European Downhill Series. Chatel is like a home from home for Josh and he had high hopes of showing just what he was capable off. However the weather had other ideas and it threw everything it had and more at Josh and the track in the form of a monstrous alpine thunder storm just before Josh’s run. The fact that he slipped and slid his way to a 52nd place finish just shows what could have been.

With the World Cup Series starting late in 2013 there was still two rounds to go! The first stop was at Hafjell Bike Park in Norway. It’s another monster of a track with some massive jumps up top and it was an instant favourite with Josh. He was again chasing that covered top 80 qualifying position and he came home in 88th just 2 seconds off of qualification, a move in the right direction, but so frustrating to miss out by such a small margin.

There was no time to think of what could have been though, as Josh travelled from Norway to Austria for the following weekend and the World Cup Finals in Leogang. All eyes were on the 2013 overall title chase, with it coming down to straight fight for the overall series honours between Gee Atherton and Stevie Smith.

For Josh having raced here earlier in the season he had high hopes of securing that covered top 80 qualifying slot. However so did many other racers and with 160 plus riders chasing 80 qualifying slots it was always going to be a tough weekend. Josh came home in 127th not the result he was hoping for, especially considering how close he’d come the weekend before. Never the less, it was another valuable weekend of racing experience in preparation for 2014.

At the sharp end it was Canadian Stevie Smith that edged out Gee Atherton in a thrilling finale to the series to take the win that wrapped up the men’s overall title. It wasn’t all bad news for the Brits/Atherton’s though, as Gee’s sister Rachel Atherton won the women’s 2013 World Cup Downhill Title. Dominating the series and adding the Downhill World Cup Series title to the World Championship title she’d won earlier in the year.

At the end of September as the domestic race season was fast becoming a memory, there was still the final of the IXS European Downhill Cup to come. Maribor in Slovenia is another legendary European track and one that has a reputation for being fast and furious. Yet again the weather had other ideas and a wild weekend of racing awaited all the competitors.  For the second IXS in a row Josh slipped and slid his way down the track, this time to a 51st place finish. Leaving him to wonder as to what might have been had the conditions not been so epic! Josh rounded out the IXS European Downhill Cup in 58th place and 6th British finisher.

Heading back to the UK after a long hard but very rewarding season Josh rounded out his year of racing where he’d started it back on top of the box at Penshurst with a win at the final round of the PORC downhill series.

What a season! 5 wins a stack of top 10 finishes, second overall in British Downhill Series and British Cycling’s Expert National Rankings. Along with promotion to the Elite Category for 2014! Thousands of miles travelled and hundreds of miles ridden in training and races. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s a good job we are sponsored by an energy product!

Blockhead Energy Chewing Gum launched on the 1st May 2013 – made from a brand new gum technology, Blockhead energy gum increases concentration and performance and it’s digested 5 times quicker than an energy drink. One pack of 10 gums is comparative to 4 cans of energy drink! At £1.95 per pack they are great value for money. For more details see

Firecrest Mountain Biking provides skills and fitness consultancy providing a range of mountain bike skills courses on Aston Hill for riders of all ages and abilities along with fitness and performance coaching for keeping fit through to racing professionally.

To find out more about Blockhead Energy Downhill Team and Firecrest’s range of MTB Skills courses click over to the website

The Blockhead Downhill Team was sponsored and supported in 2013 by Blockhead Energy Chewing Gum, Firecrest Mountain Biking, IMB Magazine, Trek Bikes, Kali Protectives, Speedsport, Tesa Tape, Shoretrax Portable Mountain Bike Trails, Lezyne and Whackjob Clothing. We’d like to thank all of our sponsors for their support throughout the season.

For the Blockhead Energy Gum Downhill Racing Team the adventure continues! See you at the races in 2014!

We are currently seeking sponsors for our 2014 race program if you’d like to work with one of the most dynamic and exciting race teams on the circuit then please get in touch. E-mail

Downhill Thriller in Saalfelden Leogang: Steve Smith and Rachel Atherton take the overall world cup title, Emmeline Ragot and Steve Smith win Leogang’s World Cup

Downhill Thriller in Saalfelden Leogang in Salzburger Land, Austria, September 22nd 2013 – Today saw the final stop of the UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup and a piece of history in mountain biking. In probably one of the most thrilling Downhill World Cup finals of all times, Steve Smith could beat his hardest rival Gee Atherton. As champion of Saalfelden Leogang he ends his season also as overall world cup winner, followed by Gee Athertonwho finished fourth today. In the women’s competition French rider Emmeline Ragot came in first, but couldn’t avoid the overall world cup title for Rachel Atherton, who finished second in Bikepark Leogang.

It was a season showdown that will enter the annals of mountain bike chronicles. The last stop of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Saalfelden Leogang was really suspense-packed. In the men elite’s overall ranking British rider Gee Atherton was in the lead before Canadian Steve Smith with only 17 points. It seemed obvious that the form of the day and a bit of luck would be the decision maker about who will take home the overall world cup title. In the women’s competition things were a bit more clear, but the title was not yet determined: Action-Rachel_Atherton_by_Michael_MarteRachel Atherton was in the lead with 160 points before second-placed Emmeline Ragot. But a French triumph was still possible, since a world cup win scores 200 points.

And Ragot fought for the title. In best shape she threw down an almost perfect run on the 2.6 km long track, pushing French Manon Carpenter (in the end rank 3) from the hot seat by over 4 seconds. Now, the pressure was on Rachel Atherton, last female rider of the day. After the first time split she was 0.3 seconds in the lead and everybody was expecting another Atherton victory. In the end Rachel Atherton took second place and was 0.5 seconds slower than Ragot. But that didn’t diminish Rachel’s happiness about her overall world cup title: “That was definitively the best season of my career so far. After the World Championship title now the World Cup overall title, I still can’t believe it. For now I am just happy! But congrats also to Emmeline, who showed a brilliant performance today!”

Here are the Top 10 results Downhill Women Elite:






6. CHARRE Morgane (FRA), MS MONDRAKER TEAM, +10.592


8. HANNAH Tracey (AUS), HUTCHINSON UR, +13.078


10. GATTO Micayla (CAN), +15.348

The Top 3 World Cup overall ranking:

  1. Rachel Atherton (GBR), 1295 pointswomen_podium_Saalfelden_Leogang_by_Michael_Marte
  2. Emmeline Ragot (FRA), 1165 points
  3. Manon Carpenter (GBR), 1045 points

Subsequent to the women’s final it came to the final showdown of the male downhillers: the expected clash between Gee Atherton and Steve Smith. It couldn’t have been more exciting. Just before Atherton’s run it was French Loic Bruni who placed himself on the hot seat with an incredible aggressive performance on the track. He beat the so far leading time of Josh Bryceland (GBR) by 4 seconds. So it was up to Gee Atherton to safe his title. He found a quite flowy line, but in the end couldn’t beat Bruni’s run, so he ranked in second behind the French young gun. The pressure on Steve Smith now even got higher when Mick Hannah from Australia finished half a second faster than Gee Atherton. In the last run of the day, Smith went for the greatest triumph of his career. Precise and error-free he found his line and shredded down the top section of the track incredibly fast. After the first time split he was already in the lead and didn’t give it out of his hands.  Finishing as fastest rider, it was clear that he would also grab the overall world cup crown.

SSteve_Smith_by_Michael_Marteteve Smith’s comment on his win: “I really felt the pressure on me. At the start I was quite nervous, but then on the track I felt good, especially in the upper section. Then it got louder and louder around the track and I just kept going. When I heard people cheering behind the finish line, I knew I made it!”

Despite a great season performance Gee Atherton had to leave Saalfelden Leogang as second in the world cup overall and with a fourth place in Saalfelden Leogang’s world cup race. Not enough for his ambitions, but in half a year he will get the chance for revenge.

Also worthwhile to mention is the 9th place of downhill legend Steve Peat. In the age of 39 he proved that he is still able to compete with the absolute downhill world elite. In front of 10,000 cheering spectators he visibly celebrated his top 10 placing.

Here are the Top 10 results Downhill Men Elite:



3. HANNAH Michael (AUS), HUTCHINSON UR, +1.934







10. FEARON Connor (AUS), KONA, +6.620

The Top 3 World Cup overall ranking:Downhill Thriller - Saalfelden_Leogang_by_Michael_Marte

  1. Steve Smith (CAN), 1199 points
  2. Gee Atherton (GBR), 1121 points
  3. Greg Minnaar (RSA), 673 points

In the men junior’s competition Swiss rider Noel Niederberger, who already was fastest in the qualification runs, took the win before his all-season rivals Loris Vergier (FRA) and Michael Jones (GBR). All three were separated by less than 1.5 seconds, another prove for the extreme performance density in the junior men downhill division. However, second place was enough for French Vergier to maintain his overall lead and take home the UCI Mountain Bike Downhill Junior World Cup overall title.

All news about the UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup and the UCI Four-Cross World Championships as well as about biking in Saalfelden Leogang can be found on the new bike channel:

Further information about Bikepark Leogang: or via:

News and information about the Saalfelden Leogang region can be found on: or on:


Aston Hill Junior Development Update – Junior DeVo Come of age! Go Phil!

Philt Atwill - Team Madison Saracen

Phil at full speed at the National Downhill Championship

Back in the year 2000 I started out on a mission to encourage more youngsters into mountain biking and set up a program know as Aston Hill Junior Development.  The program one of the first in the UK had a simple aim; Introducing young people to the sport of mountain biking in a fun and challenging environment.

Developed initially as a school holiday activity program DeVo as it became know for short gave hundreds of youngsters the chance to try mountain biking and introduced them to the trails on Aston Hill.

Over the years the program has produced some of the UK’s fastest riders and a number of National winners and National Champions but to date they have come close but none have represented the UK at the annual mountain bike World Championships.

That was until this year!  Back in 2005 Phil came along on one of the DeVo sessions and as with all champions was an immediate stand out as having the speed and skills essential to excel at downhill mountain biking. With a few of the DeVo sessions under his belt Phil was getting quicker and quicker and the lure of the race track saw him enter his first race. .

Phil has ridden for the Milton Keynes based Madison Saracen Downhill Race Team for the past two seasons and has added the Youth National Championship and a number of British Downhill Series wins to his CV to date.

This year he’s completed the full World Cup Series qualifying in Fort William, UK, Windham, USA, and at last weekends penultimate round in Val d’Isère, France Phil came home in a career best 34th place overall and second junior! A result that underlines his potential in the build up to the World Championships in Leogang Austria.

I’m immensely proud of Phil and it’s great to see that all the hard work and effort that he’s put into his career to date is paying off. I can’t wait to see how he goes at the World Championships and I’ll be following the championships closely. Look out for news on our Facebook page and up to the minute updates via our Twitter feed!


AnaNichoola Sping/Summer collection – Women’s MTB Clothing

When it comes to female specific cycling clothing and Women’s MTB Clothing in particular there’s one brand that’s mixing functionality with style.

Endorsed by Firecrest Skills and Fitness Trained Athlete Maxine Filby for the 2012 race season. AnaNichoola has launched it’s Spring/Summer clothing selection collection.

Women's MTB ClothingThe first arrivals from the AnaNichoola Sping/Summer collection can be found on their website. The Diva Range, which encourages ladies to Ride Loud with hard wearing, statement pieces includes the Star Jersey and an updated version of our popular Kestral Cycling Gloves.

The range includes a number of jersey designs that compliment a range of shorts, armwarmers and the stunning cafe range all designed by women for women with cycling in mind.