Fetish Bikes UK Gravity Enduro Rd1 Innerleithen
A dusty Innerleithen hosted the first round of the British Enduro Race series last weekend in perfect sunny summer like weather. This side of the sport is now growing in popularity as it’s got a great mix of the downhill side of the sport but not quite as extreme, but you also have to be pretty damn fit to cycle back up the hill to the start of each stage in a set time (don’t think the hot sunny weather helped this weekend). There are 5 stages to race all timed descents with a set time to start each stage. Seeding on Saturday was run on stage 5 which started just above the quarry and run you down the tunnel into the luge, when you got to the fire road you had 180 turn along the fire road along to Jane’s lane, which dropped you down into the bottom section of the free ride track on Caddon Bank.
Fitness came into it on this trail, as there’s a lot of peddling to be done to keep the speed up, fastest time in seeding went to European elite champion Jerome Clementz in a time of 5.31, second fastest went to the old man of the elite field Crawford Carrick Anderson. Orange Bikes Gary Forrest who is the current British elite champion slide out on his seeding run and finished in 12th place with a time of 5.43. With seeding times this year counting in the overall results for the weekend it was a bit disappointing for Gary, as this left him with a lot of catching up to do in the race.
Sunday morning was race day and the temperature was rising with the sun, 18 to 20 odd miles of cycling lay ahead for the competitors in this gruelling event. Anybody that knows the hillside at Innerleithen will know the climb to the start is not the easiest but to, but do it 4 times along with one climb to point 22 on the Minch moor for stage 3, it saps your strength to say the least.
Quick run through the stages – first one would be pretty familiar to any downhill racers being the Cresta run finishing just on the pushup track short of the arena. Second was the Alistair Lees track which is a good mix of greasy rocks and roots before you hit the loamy fast bottom section that takes you along to the finish in the quarry. From there you had a peddle up the XC route to point 22 up in the heather for a fast techy trail down onto the fire road – pop back into the woods then another fast loamy section down into the old lead mines. A long haul out of there back to the start of stage 4 which started just above the fire road then down into the fast flowing XC route before the rock garden, then down into the old classic balls out steep heart in your mouth stuff.
Nobody really knows how things are going during the race until the end when the race timings are accumulated, that is apart from the racers themselves as they know if they’ve had a good run on the descents or not. The last stage of the day is a fast flowing one where the crowds can easily walk up and view the action, a large cheering crowd was out in force for the local and well know riders, it was looking tight for the results, but this was only one of 5 anything could’ve happened out on the hill.
Whilst waiting on the results I spoke to Gary Forrest about how it had went for him during the race, he said he wasn’t that happy with how he’d felt, and didn’t feel he had a lot of upper body strength and his legs felt hollow and overall was just waiting to hear if he’d managed a top ten. He was pretty happy and a bit surprised to find out he’d actually finished in third place with the 3rd fastest time of the day. Gary’s old mate and ex world cup downhill racer Crawford Carrick Anderson was 2nd and at 42 that’s an fantastic result, mind the East Lothian man could be classed as local as never away from Innerleithen – you can find him riding in and around the area most weeks, European Champion Jerome Clementz took the win by a clear 46 seconds!
The elite women’s race saw Tracy Moseley compete in her new T-Mo racing livery to good effect taking the win over Sarah Newman in second place, Carrie Poole took the 3rd spot on the podium. As of this morning veteran Phil McGrath riding for I-Cycles finished in third place behind Marcus Jones with Justin Grice taking the win. Senior class was won by Glentress rider’s Lewis Kirkwood competing in his first enduro race, the young Tweedsmuir lad was very happy with this result, Sam Flanagan took second place in front of David Mirfield in third. Stuart Nicholson riding for Innerleithen MTB riders took the masters win over Bruce McCleary in second and Dirt School’s Andrew Barlow in 3rd.
Junior under 18 result was a bit of a clean sweep for the young Madison/Saracen team with Josh Lowe taking the win over team mate’s Will Weston in second place and Phil Atwill in 3rd.
The Grand old Vets class was a pretty close run battle with the top 3 all in the 36 minute with the win going to Dave Wills with second place Allan Turnbull just pipping Steve Felstead into 3rd.
Cher Mills took the woman’s win over Sally Evamy with Fiona Thomson in third.
A fantastic weekend was had by all, the weather played a big part in that – only down side has to be the timing issues that followed the race as it became pretty obvious that there were problems when Jerome Clementz didn’t make the podium… A week later and still people are groaning about it. Have to say in Steve Parr’s defence the fault lies with the timing guy’s and the fact that some folk just didn’t get to the start of each stage in time for there race time, I’m sure all of these issues will be ironed out for round 2 in Coed y Brenin and lets hope the weather at least is the same.