Only one weekend ago we were saying farewell to 2016, the Christmas festivities and over indulgence was taking its toll on us all. So an Enduro race only one week into the new year would have been a wake up call to quite a few riders this Saturday. Having said that, the forecast for the day was too good to turn down the opportunity to race at Grizedale, in the heart of the English Lake District.
The sun trying to break through the mist high up near Carron Crag
One thing for sure though, is predicting the weather here in the Lakes is more like gambling on the lottery. Most of the day, the hills were shrouded in thick mist, but this time last year, this very race was a complete wash out so conditions couldn’t really have been better all day.
Grizedale forest forms part of the “Super 6” mountain bike trails in the North of England, these include Gisburn the furthest south to Kielder the furthest north, bordering Scotland. The North Face is the main single track trail, which most mountain bikers will be aware of, but search deeper and you’ll find some of the trails the likes of the PMBA Enduro series or the late UKGE series have used.
Laid back practice means riders can follow each others lines
The format for Saturdays race was to start the practice at 10.00am, then race the full loop from 12.30pm. The entire race was approximately 6 miles, a very short race circuit in comparison to other races the PMBA organises. Having said that, the total miles for the day was in the region of 18 miles. Once all the riders were finished the day race they all congregated at the forestry centre cafe for some warming hot food in the form of chilli. This was provided for all the riders and event marshals and organisers.
Matt and Howard Stuttard awaiting their refuelling chilli
Once the sun had set and night time had set in, it was time for the night race to begin. The circuit was the same, but there’s nothing like riding at night at speed. Despite the riders having completed the stages twice already, everything seems very different at night where your visual field is so much more restricted.
Tom Wilson who took the win is absolutely fearless during day or night on a bike!
Within the race loop were 3 downhill timed stages. Each stage had a mix of natural singletrack with differing technically. Some really steep and sloppy, some with crafty slippery roots and finally to purpose built trail centre singletrack with a great mix of berms, jumps and hips.
Matt Stuttard taking the inside line, managing to take the overall win on Saturday
This race attracted a great mix of riders from first time racers to full on elite riders. This is where the PMBA race series excels as they have always tried to maintain their “grass roots”.
There’s often a strong female turnout at the PMBA
2017 will also see the PMBAs first race for women only, sponsored by Hope tech, this will be taking place at Gisburn on 14th October 2017. If you want to enter head over to this link here.
Matt sharing his winners beer with his fellow podiums.
The overall winner on the day was Matt Stuttard, but not by a big margin at all. On the day only 0:01.71 seconds separated Matt from Callum Russell. For the full results you can head over to here.
Don’t forget that places are filling up fast for the remainder of the years events, including the National Champs the PMBA are hosting at Grizedale and Grathwaite in April. Other venues include Gnar, Gisburn, Lee Quarry Grizedale and Kirroughtree. If you want a taste of the Enduro action you can find more info and entries over here.
I’ll leave you to have a look through a few more photos from yesterdays superb race action, if you want to have a look through the photos and results on roots and rain, here’s the link to all the action. I’ll see you on the trails and remember, stay rubberised down!
James Dodds from the Hamsterley Trailblazers negotiating the steep rocky section
Jim Topliss dropping out of the woods with music blaring.
Hugo Morrison eyeing up the best line through the lethal slippery roots.
Scott Woolley showing some style and keeping it low over the jumps
Giving the bike some TLC after the race
So it really feels like the race seasons have started, don’t forget if you’re thinking about entering, just crack on and click the link above, places will be running out soon.