Organiser and event boss Carl Davison checking the stage and setting up timings before race (JWDTphotography)
Sunday saw the NDH enduro riders take on a pretty varied course at the behemoth that is Kielder Forest in Northumberland . Another 3- stage race on Kielder’s infamous Deadwater hill. At a smidge under 1900 feet (571m) this proved to be a brutal test for riders; 2 of the stages starting at the top of the summit and the final stage an easy traverse across the fire roads.
Practicing the stages and then racing in the afternoon, one rider claimed to have a total ascent of 4488 feet on the day. With the main part of the winter gone, riders fitness is building and this was a good challenge.
Only half way up the hill, but breathtaking views everywhere (JWDTphotography)
From the summit of Deadwater, on a clear day you can see 360º views across a large area of South Scotland, the Lake District & Northumberland. You can even see the well-known Glentress Forest! The weather again was utterly superb for a race, slightly overcast for the majority of the day and not too warm. The week before the event saw a day of sustained rainfall that provided some really challenging mudfests on the first stage.
Benjamin Cornwall hard on the pedals on stage 3
Stage 1 and 2 both started at the same place on the summit, a super fast pedal down a near-straight, rocky fireroad. Stage 1 then broke off to the right along timber slats and carpets and thick, energy sapping mud. The majority of stage 1 was rocks, mud and wood slats (as this area is notorious for boggy patches). It was very steep and challenging in places, with super grippy rocks into slippy mud. This was a highly techy section, but having spoken to some riders sessioning it and at the bottom, they were loving it!
Carl himself and a team of trail builders were responsible for the creation of this trail, and you certainly got a feel for Carl’s background in downhill mountain biking here. The riders then had to negotiate their way down the DH trail to the fireroad for another big slog up to the top for stage 2.
Natalie Sleeman finding a huge soft point in the trail during practice……..but went on to destroy the other competitors during the race (JWDTphotography)
Stephen Hardy looking very loose in practice through the technical stage 1 (JWDTphotography)
Natalie Sleeman storming through the technical stage 1 during the race run (JWDTphotography)
Stage 2 again started with the near straight super fast pedal down the hill, one rider claims to have hit 35mph! The stage went into a trail centre type of course, with small table tops, great berms and a few small rock drops, far less technical, but still high consequence if you offed at this sort of speed.
Stage 2, gravity and trail centre stage.
Stage 3 was mostly on a purpose built trail, again with berms, jumps and drops and required strong legs and fitness to do well. This stage was hard on the pedals with a transfer from trail centre gravel into a more natural single track into trees, and finally into the finish line and event centre.
Alistair West showing some style on stage 3, first ever event……..we think he wants more!! (JWDTphotography)
Andrew Heaton hitting the table tops at speed (JWDTphotography)
This enduro had a little bit of everything thrown in, technical steep rocks into slimy mud, super fast gravity defying downhill fireroad (Go as fast as you dare!) and hard on the pedals trail centre gravel to benefit the fittest riders.
So the fastest down the trails overall and in the 19-29 was Josh Lewis in a brilliant 10:09.84 followed by Tom Kelly – 15.72s behind.
Natalie Sleeman was the fastest woman of the day in 13:27.83 followed by Melissa Pearson in 14:18.62.
With only 66 riders completing this enduro, there was an air of real positivity after the race, with stage 1 getting the most after race feedback…..
Another big shout out to Start Cycles for supporting this series, Carl and his NDH team for another belting enduro race. Next up is Hamsterley Time Trial – if you’re reading this wondering whether you want to enter the TT, think no longer, it will sell out!
Until next time…..