Forces Mountain Bike Riders Face Inter Services Gravity Festival

Forces riders have returned to downhill mountain biking action with the Inter Services Gravity Festival.

The event was hosted by the Royal Navy in South Devon with competitors tackling the course at Gawton Gravity Hub.

Sergeant Tom Buck become the 2021 Inter Services champion with the Army also taking the team championship.

Sixty-three service personnel were at the event, the first downhill mountain biking competition since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Event organiser Petty Officer Toby Hann said the course presented a difficult challenge for the eager riders.

He explained: "There's been a lot of people wanting to get going on the bikes.

"It is very steep. It’s probably one of the steeper tracks in the country.

"The grassroots all the way to the fastest boy and girls of all three services have struggled, especially with the heavy, heavy downpour we had... [it] changed the track quite a bit."

Corporal Ian Churchill finished in second place in the individual championship and discussed the difficulties he faced.

He said: "I've not ridden a downhill bike for... five years.

"I've got a loaner off an ex-Army guy, so thank you for that.

"[It's] a really, really hard track. One of the hardest tracks I think I have ever raced."

Downhill Mountain Biking Go Pro Credit BFBS DATE UNKNOWN.jpg
GoPro footage showed what it was like riding in a downhill mountain biking event.

Cpl Churchill couldn't stop Sgt Buck from taking the championship and the winner was in confident mood after the event.

"Absolutely over the moon," he said. "I had the run of my life. Everything went perfectly.

"I hit everything I wanted to hit and it's paid off."

Despite the good turn-out, there were only two female competitors, including Corporal Emily Smith.

She's hoping for more women to get involved next year.

"I think there's a few females and up-and-coming riders," she said. "I'm certainly, probably, one of the newest on the team. 

"We will see what next year brings and, hopefully, other ladies will see it and be interested so we can get a stronger female contingent."

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