A Guide To: Racing in the mud 

April 16th, 2024

2.77 seconds ahead of the pack - Charlie Hatton takes the win in Rheola, where conditions were very, very muddy. Here, the World Champ gives us his 7 top tips for riding and racing in the mud.

This weekend was the UK race season opener with British National DH Series Round 1 at Rheola.  Rheola is one of the toughest tracks on the UK circuit but still, one of Charlie’s favourites, especially in the hideous conditions that he swears are in place 85% of the time! The deep mud which caused such carnage this weekend (finals were abandoned after a huge number of red flags) seems to play to our World Champ’s strengths!

Charlie kept it smooth to take the win by 2.77 seconds from his friend Joe Breeden.

Charlie said “The Rheola track is a real mixed-bag with a rocky top section that has you flat out the moment you’re out of the gate, it’s super scary with loads of trees to get in the way! Then there’s a techy mid-section that plunges you down into the infamous Star Wars woods - you’ve got to come in there clean or there’s no hope. The flattish lower woods have long sweeping corners full of roots so it’s hard to carry any speed into the jumps and drops to the finish, my run wasn’t at all spectacular, I just tried to take it easy and stay out of trouble!”

Dom rode his first-ever Elite race this weekend in a super stacked field, everyone turned out to try to gauge where they were in the run-up to Fort William. "7th was a strong result, especially with all the red flags that can be a real psych-out but we were riding together in practice and he was even faster than it looked, he was right up behind me all the way… we’ll teach him some racecraft this season and he’ll be flying!“


Here are Charlie’s top tips for riding and racing in the mud…

1. Stay Loose

The hardest thing to deal with at Rheola is the ruts, they are so deep! You have to let the bike go through it, and stay loose with your arms so your wheel will follow the rut. if you try to fight it you’re going to get off balance and go down.  You want your bike to be super settled in so get your set-up right...

2. Braking

Not too aggressive! As soon as you pull on that front brake you’re slowing the front wheel down and it’s going to rub on those ruts. Try not to lock the brakes up. Day 1 looked more crazy because of all the rain but riding was harder still on day 2! When it’s super wet like in practise it washes the mud off the roots, on Sunday the sun came out and the mud got real treacly and even more slippery, it was the proper peanut -butter type that grabbed your tyres and hid the roots and rocks.

3. Go slow to go fast

It’s a race! You’ve got to go fast in the right places but rather than charging think about how to keep the momentum. Rheola has a lot of long straits you need to be carrying momentum as you go in, especially on the middle section and the bottom corners and to do that you need to be nice and composed.


4. Keep it low-risk

There was a rock drop in the middle section that lots of people were doing, not me!!  It probably took a bit of time to go around and I felt a bit of a squid tbh, but I’ve got a whole World Cup season ahead of me so I had to keep it safe…

5. Tyres

We stayed on dry tyres, Continental Kryptotal, because they are insanely good and also the top section was super hard-packed and shiny… if the mud got any thicker we’d have gone to Argotals but Kryptotal are always my first choice. Lower psi is important in this kind of situation, we ran 23 on the front and 28 on the rear so a bit softer than usual.

6. Invest in the best kit you can afford...

...so you are comfortable, and confident and don’t get distracted

The A.200 gives me so much confidence and keeps me out of trouble, even if I do start to get in trouble it will get me safely out the other side! I feel like I can point, shoot and it’ll hold whatever line I need. This weekend I ran extra long mudhuggers and rip-n-roll Oakley goggles for visibility. The Endura onesie was an absolute godsend for the practise – I was caked in mud but dry underneath even at the end of the day, they aren’t a cheap bit of a kit but it makes a massive difference.



7. Invest in the best kit you can afford...

I probably shouldn’t give away this one as I couldn’t see anyone else doing it but keeping your hands and the bars dry means you have a way better chance of hanging on!! I used five sets of gloves over the weekend, one set for getting my bike on and off the uplift and a clean set in my pocket for the run. I had plastic bags over the grips right up until the start gate so they were lovely and dry!

I love riding in the mud – I reckon it’s a big part of what makes British riders so competitive… see you guys at Fort William and fingers crossed for some more rain!!