Pennine Mountain Bike Association or PMBA for short, is an ever increasing enduro race series not only in numbers racing but also races within the year. These guys cover most of the North of England. The series is run by Mike Marsden, Kev Duckworth and his Borderline team, who also put on numerous downhill races and a Welsh Enduro Series.
This race called Escape to Gisburn, was a five stage race covering a total of 11.7 miles around Gisburn Forest. The PMBA race series is a grass roots series aimed at all levels of riders; it attracts novice racers to world cup level riders.
Gisburn forest is well worth a look if you’ve never been. There is great variation throughout the trail network from hard on the pedals, technical uphill single track climbs, to thrilling red and black graded downhill trails like Hully Gully, Whelpstone Crag, the Hope line and some pretty excellent DH trails with drops and fully committing gap jumps.
It’s an area without any really big hills, but what the trail builders have done here is superb, this is why, when I’ve raced here, it has been one of my favourite locations.
Aerial shot of the Gisburn forest hub and a few hardy campers for the event. @JWDTphotography
Riders usually start arriving on the Saturday whilst the course is getting taped out for a sneaky ride around the stages. Camping is available at this venue on the Saturday night, and often the atmosphere is great, making it into a great weekends riding.
Ben Clarke riding through the gorgeous sunlight early in the day during practice @JWDTphotography
Stage 1 was called Loamageddon. A very hard on the peddles relatively flat stage, which tests fitness, balance and skills. Riding through soft mud and wooden slats (to avoid the bogs!)
Hard on the pedal sover the bridge @Adam Sherratt
Stage 1 through the loam and mud, could be found a sneaky drop…..the left line or the right line??
Robert Dodsworth taking the left line | @Adam Sherratt
Stage 4. This is where I was based all day. A black graded forest trail called Hully Gully, it has a great drop into it, then steep swooping corners and into some superb berms. But……..at the bottom of the trail, where it would normally end, the ( crafty! ) organisers put on a tough, prolonged sprint along the flat.
Stephen Ingham dropping into stage 4 | @JWDTphotography
Those big berms, certainly give me a big smile, especially at speed!! | @JWDTphotography
Towards the bottom of stage 4 were some small bomb holes that threw some riders out the other side.
Ian Cation (Peddlers cycles) keeping it low out of the bomb hole…..in his new colours I hear! | @JWDTphotography
Stuart Bowman coming out of the final swoop berm on stage 4 | @JWDTphotography
Stage 5 is the formidable downhill stage – with 4 drops, tabletops, jumps and then a wooded, soft mud to finish with. All the drops had “alternative routes”, but taking these would sap your speed……and not impress the gathering spectators.
Robert Stansfield opting for the “air line” | @Adam Sherratt
James Swinden, riding for Cotic took the win with a total time of 8:31.17, and 13.66s behind James was Ian Austermuhle for Hope Factory Racing. A total of 328 riders started the race with a superb 318 getting in all 5 stages. The PMBA race series is definitely going from strength to strength, Mike the organiser often comments on how much emphasis he puts on the number of marshals and medics available on the day. One thing for sure is……..the marshals will make your day!!!! They must be the loudest hecklers about!! They will encourage you all the way round, thats for sure.
Anyone up for a bit of Grizedale at the next round?
Dale Radcliffe (Gisburn DH diggers) launching it on stage 4 | @JWDTphotography
Ian Pyman just about to take on a flat, full out peddle to the finish | @JWDTphotography
Michael Beatson negotiating a steep rocky, but flowy drop | @JWDTphotography
Sam Bradley flying out of the small bomb hole (tred Bike Shope) | @JWDTphotography