Deputy Manager at Grizedale, Dan, and Area Manager Clair applied to the Adventure Fund for support to enter some enduro mountain bike races early this year. This is what happened.
The two races could not have been more different.
The first race at Gisburn Forest in Lancashire was bathed in warm spring sunshine and had lovely dry trails. The Vallelujah Enduro in the Tweed Valley in Scotland threw everything the weather gods could at us. We live and ride in Grizedale Forest in the South Lakes, so are no strangers to wet weather, but what we faced in Scotland was something else!
For those that don’t know, enduro mountain bike races consist of a number of timed special stages and untimed transitions in between. The trails of each race were a mixture of man made and natural trails that provide a multitude of challenges from steep, muddy and slippy, to super fast with jumps and drops that always make for very exciting races.
Riders have to have a good combination of skills and fitness to do well.
The first race at Gisburn was a one-day affair with a chance to practice the 5 stages in the morning and then race them in the afternoon. We had tracks that were tight through the trees, open tracks with big rock slabs and steep sided berms and fast tracks with drops. Clair did exceptionally well in this one and came 4th and managed to get a spot on the podium (in mountain bike races, the first five riders get a spot). Dan didn’t do so well with a few mechanical issues and a couple of little crashes that resulted in a mid pack finish.
The second race at Peebles was a bigger and more serious event and lasted the whole weekend. Practice took place on Saturday in nice, dry and warm conditions. The tracks were running very well and everyone was excited about the race on Sunday. Then the weather got involved and after 2 weeks of benign conditions, the wind picked up.
The rain came. It never went away.
This turned the trails into the slippiest kind of sloppy mud. Much of the transitions were spent with our heads down avoiding the wind blown hail stone bullets that seemed to pelt in sideways through the trees stinging any bit of exposed skin. A bit of snow fell and then the sun came out. Then the hailstones came back. The stages in this race were harder, longer and steeper than Gisburn and to be honest, by the end of the day, thoughts of results had gone out of the window and we were starting to suffer in the cold. We were happy to finish the race safe and sound after about 4 and a half hours on the bikes.
It’s been a good start to our race season and with the Adventure Fund’s help, we are doing more enduros throughout the season.