Not quite 7 foot snow drifts of bygone eras, but enough to make some riders stay in bed
Report supplied by Jerry Tatton / NDH .
Northern downhill kicked off it’s enduro season early doors with a challenging but hugely entertaining circuit amongst some of the worst weather seen recently. Much like the old DH winter series races held in yesteryea riders were greeted with freezing temperatures and heavy snow on and off throughout the day, it was a testing days racing; Not only for the riders, but organisers and marshals alike.
Due to the forecast, Carl and the organisers changed the previously published course plan to avoid one side of the valley entirely. The reason for this was purely based around rider safety and to ensure the medical team would be able to reach all parts of the race without worrying about getting all Ari Vatenen, or worse ending up in a ditch backwards due to ice on the way to any emergencies!
Thick snow made for challenging riding, race preparations and carpark banter
Even the stream crossing wasn’t playing fair this time round, with levels slightly higher than normal it made the day more grim. Riders did have the chance to hike up to the stages via deer tracks, having said that, many riders opted for cold feet and a more direct route.
Hike a bike; In enduro, this is surely perfectly acceptable. Does anyone remember when DH races were push up?
Anyway – enough of the grim conditions and more about the racing!
The Hamsterley enduro is eagerly anticipated and 164 riders, with many locals included signed up to race and a few more also turning up to support and heckle the riders.
The aforementioned course change made it a 4 stage race instead of 3. The course itself was all within Danny Hart’s Descend Bike Park; 2 stages to be ridden twice by each rider. Each stage had its mix of classic Hammers terrain – tricky and tight with the opportunity for bold riders to make big time gains in amongst the sitka spruce.
Lew Buchanan nearing the bottom of the Old NPS stage. His first race back from injury and he destroyed the field by nearly 1 minute
The race had a mixed field – from seasoned pros like Lewis Buchanan to complete novice riders, trying their hand at racing for the first time.
There was a noticeable and great turn out of women too, some with heaps of race experience to one with only 2 races under her belt.
Melissa Pearson attacking the bottom of the Old 2001 NPS Track stage and keeping it low
A race is still a race and most riders ignored the zero temps to hammer (sorry, had to be done) through the tricky cambers and odd rough section. It was great proof that the bike park is not the reserve of DH bikes only.
Harry Baines coming through the snow at the top of the NPS stage
Despite the prolonged period of cold weather at Hamsterley, the ground hadn’t seemed to freeze up meaning that if you looked hard you could find traction amongst the slippery, and at times thick, energy sapping mud.
Shaun Woods dropping out of the dark woods and into a small clearing on the Edge stage
Andrew Critchley in the thick of the mud and berm on the Edge stage
The fastest man of the day was Lewis Buchanan in an incredible 7:18.44, literally a cool 60 seconds ahead of the next man Reece Langhorn in still respectable 8:14.220.
The fastest woman was Roslynn Newman in 10:13.910 followed by Angela Foster (Out of retirement Ange?) only 1.399s slower. What a race the women had.
Paul Fletcher just about to drop into the lower end of the edge, his final stage of the day
The next race for the NDH crew is the Kielder TT on 12th March.
Click here to have a look at their race calendar.
Here’s hoping the next race brings out some of the better weather we had last year at many races!
Pushing up for the final stage of the day
The official race results and more in depth timings, along with photos to purchase can be found here