Just over one week ago and as the dust is settling I’m still reflecting on the weekend of the 17th and 18th September, when Ard Events produced another superb weekend. The event was called Ard Moors and was based at the Lordstone’s café on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, near a tiny village called Carlton. Lordstones is a well known local landmark for all types of visitors, people walking the Cleveland way or riders taking on the coast to coast.
On careful inspection, someones had some fun in the sky, high above.
Over the weekend it was obvious there was a glider school site on the adjoining Carlton Bank, as paragliders and handgliders could be seen swooping about in the gorgeous weather. Historically the area itself was used as decoys for the German Luftwaffe during World War Two, due to its proximity to the industrial heartland of Teesside and Middlesbrough. Trenches full of fuel were set alight during the blackout period as decoys for industrial activity and some craters were formed on the site by German bombs.
The push up to stage 5 was pretty brutal along the Cleveland way
The name “Lordstones” comes from the 3 ancient boundary stones which sit atop a Bronze Age tumulus and these stones marked the meeting point of 3 boundaries of land owned by 3 Lords.
Sam Farrar in control at the bottom of stage 1, the abandoned downhill trail
The area used to have legendary downhill trails, one east and one west of the Lordstone’s café. But if you dig deeper (excuse the pun), there are tales to be heard about their demise, especially the downhill trail on the west of the estate. I was lucky enough to bump into an older chap when I was exploring, as you do, I warned him of the potential risks as the mountain bikers were pinning it down these trails, only to be told “I helped to build this trail, how amazing it is to see it used again after all these years”.
Robert Nelson showing some skills at the bottom of stage 1
He then went on to explain how the lady who owned the land had agreed to let the trails be built, hours of hard work and manual labour went into the trails, only to be told that planning permission was needed as they passed through the North Yorks National Park and areas of scientific interest. Much like a disused railway line, the trail fell quiet.
Craig Sterrett nailing the steep berm on stage 5
However, the trail East of the café has been in use for many years, slowly eroding away where gap jumps and wooden jumps used to be well built up. This trail is often referred to as Carlton bank, it is still fast with big air and sweeping berms. Joe Rafferty and his immense team have obviously put in hours of work leading up to this event.
Beautiful weather all weekend helped bring out loads of riders on Saturday practice
3 other trails were used for the event, but much like the downhill trail on the West, all are in private land and never accessible outside of this event, so much work must have gone into securing the event when it runs in private land, mostly moorlands rich in grouse shooting. These 3 stages had to be raced blind as there was limited access on the Saturday due to the shooting season. “Don’t go straying from the path” often comes to mind!!
Stage 1 levelled out momentarily along the side of a quarry.
One of Ard Events marshals dropping into stage 1
The scale of the stages could be easily seen. As Joe said when asked why Lordstone’s? “The hills are big around here!”
Ard events, the guys behind pro-ride guides had organised another epic weekend of mountain biking on unique trails in areas normally out of bounds, alongside camping, BBQs, beers and music.
Rich Gardiner provided some great music whilst the riders reminisced about the days practice over beers and BBQs
Though this event was in its inaugural incarnation, approximately 600 riders had subscribed for the weekend. The buzz was amazing, many riders saying that the old school downhill trails were the best, with stage 1 throwing riders straight into steep and very slippery mud very early on. Many riders commented on stages 2-4 being immense, with some quality single track through moorlands. With a total circuit in excess of 20 miles and the fastest overall rider (Dave Wardell) taking 13:03.19, it was a big weekend on the bike.
Leaping into the valleys during practice on the Saturday
Mick Kirkman (Left), pro mountain biker and superb photographer, as Joe says “He’s crazy fast!!”. Middle image @Adam Sherratt & Adam Brown exiting a berm at breakneck speed
Rita Jakusko ripping through the berm. A good turn out from local supporters and a few choice hecklers too
An epic weekend was had by all, so many riders were buzzing the whole weekend it would be criminal not to bring this back next year.
So many riders were in great spirits, even pushing up the pathway to the top of stage 5
For official race results and more of our images, head over to roots here.
During stage practice, riders bunch up and seek the best lines. Photo @Adam Sherratt
Joe Rafferty, the man himself, checking the trails prior to opening up.
Andrew Smith providing the mandatory panshot.
This report was brought to you by me Jerry Tatton (aka JWDTphotography). At this race I joined forces with Adam Sherratt and we were DialedinUK.