2014 Gravity Enduro Round 1 – Ae Forest
The Gravity Enduro series is the premier Enduro series of Britain and Ae forest in Dumfriesshire was it’s chosen location for the opening round of 2014. Known for it’s flat out downhill track it also holds a wide array of trail centre tracks ripe for some national level racing.
With a full entry of 300 people the pits were rammed full of vans, tents, campers, easy ups, barbecues and a whole lot of fancy looking bikes. With a lot of pro setups in attendance things were looking really promising for some top level racing. The race format was practice on Friday (if you could get the time off) practice on Saturday followed by a seeding run held on stage 5 in the evening, then Sunday was race day. 5 stages in total on the Sunday but your time from the previous day’s seeding run counted towards your total time making it just as important as all the other stages.
Seeding on Sunday evening was on stage 5 which was one of the original downhill trails with a few small “enduro” changes. It favoured the downhill riders so anyone familiar with downhill racing was feeling confident. Ben Cathro was one of the first riders down in Elite and posted a solid time of 2:22. There were 41 riders left to go and each one came through failing to better Ben’s time, In the end Ben seeded first with Al Stock 7 seconds back in 2nd and Jonathan Owen 8 seconds back in 3rd. In the womens Elite field Helen Gaskell used her supreme bike handling skills to take the seeding win by 12 seconds over Sarah Newman with Rebecca Baraona another 3 seconds back in 3rd.
Sunday rolled round and the real meat of the racing got started. 5 stages and about 4 hours of riding.
Here’s the stage lowdown:
Stage 1: Trail centre flow, berms and jumps with a cheeky steep natural switchback finish
Stage 2: Racing down the Red climb, really pedally with flat turns of doom.
Stage 3: Red trail centre with the steepest table tops known to man, windy and pedally with a flowing finish
Stage 4: Classic 1997 downhill track. Slippy wet rocks with awkward roots, tight trees and tricky ruts.
Stage 5: Flat out downhill track with high speeds, slippy roots, jumps and berms.
Sick Skills MTB Coaching rider Ben Cathro took the first stage convincingly going 7 seconds faster than 2nd place Al Stock. Young Enduro Pinner Mark Scott smashed stage two taking 1st just in front of Rob Williams. Stage 3 was claimed by DH legend Neil Donoghue a healthy 3 seconds in front of 2nd place man Sam Flannigan. Stage 4 went the way of the big dog Al Stock, a good run saw him take 4 seconds out of 2nd place man Neil Donoghue. Stage 5 saw Al Stock become the only person to win two stages by pipping Ben Cathro by a few fractions of a second.
It was tight racing and no one knew who had clinched it till the results were posted. In the end Ben’s strong runs in the seeding run and first stage gave him enough of a lead to take the overall win in front of Al Stock and Neil Donoghue.
In Elite womens Helen Gaskell smashed the competition taking the win with Sarah Newman securing 2nd and Carrie Poole rounding things out in 3rd.
Next round stops off in the world famous Innerleithen for some more top level racing.