Guy and Freya have become a bit legendary of late. They also beat a hell of a lot of other riders!
You have to ask yourself back in 2013 when 305 riders completed Ardrock, did the Ard team envisage where the event would be now. Back in 2013, the field next to and immediately surrounding the Dales Bike shop had quite a gathering of tents and vans. Back then, this was a pretty huge first enduro they put on. I was there and the atmosphere was electric. In 2017, nearly 3000 riders completed the event and acres surrounding the event centre were completely rammed as far as the eye could see. Caravans, vans, tents, sponsors stands, food, mobile pub, a stage and the Maxxis pump track. Ardrock has continued to earn it’s legendary festival status.
A mass of stalls and goods to tempt all involved
Ardrocks very own Grand Canyon, this view was pretty intimidating for many riders
This years festival took place over 3 days, with camping starting on Thursday, they were expecting big numbers. Practice was held on Friday with a limited number of stages open. Then on Saturday and Sunday 4 different style races took place. The main enduro was on Saturday, the 45km loop with 6 Alpine style, rock strewn tyre shredding downhill stages.
Chay Granby riding for Cotic was one of the first down stage 3 on saturday. He took 3rd place in his category
The Enduro sport was the same course with timed stages, but the main priority was completing the challenge (you just keep riding, no queuing at the tops). The Enduro sprint was 3 stages (1-3), 30km and 2000m of climbing, still challenging and not to be underestimated. Finally the Ardrock Intro, again taking in 3 stages (4,5 and 6), but again a 30km loop of Yorkshire Dale bliss and Alpine style descents.
“Alpine style descents” hell yes!
This festival was to cater for all riders, but I often heard people saying “this was well tough”, “I’m riding right to my capability” or even “Why the hell am I doing this?” my reply “Because you bloody love it!!” I even bumped into a couple of guys who had signed up for races on both the Saturday and the Sunday.
Rocks and steep drops feature through many of the stages
One notable bonus for the weekend was the weather. With biblical rain leading up to the event during the weeks before, overall the weather played ball. Well, to a certain degree, a 1/2 hour downpour on the Saturday afternoon during the main enduro meant the trails turned quite greasy and slippery.
Paul Maughan getting caught in the downpour on Saturday afternoon
And then there’s that headwind that always seems to hit when you’re heading up to stage 3. Who remembers the first time the event was held? One riders bike was ripped from his grip as he was setting up at the top of stage 3. This weekend was no way that bad, but it sure saps the energy.
Epic descents through the Yorkshire Dales is what has made this an essential weekends race to enter (Photo – Adam Sherratt)
It’s always essential to pick your way through the sharp rocks, ready to rip your tyres and end your game (Photo – Adam Sherratt)
Friday and Saturday evenings, the organisers had put on great entertainment, and singers and bands could be heard up and down the valley. One of the defining moments was at 10.45pm on the Saturday night, when the band played the full version of killing in the name by Rage Against the Machine…….5000 mountain bikers and onlookers turned the event arena into a mosh pit. It was epic.
Saturday night and many riders have their race behind them. It’s time to party! A Santa Cruz frame up for grabs in the raffle
Time to relax and grab a beer
Saturday night also brought us the final of the pump track competition. This was another awesome addition to the weekend, where riders were given the chance to be crowned the champion of the pump track. The final saw the two fastest lads put head to head. The ultimate aim, to catch the other who was placed opposite on the track. This brought out big crowds watching and cheering on the riders, the atmosphere was just electric.
The pump track final. Look at the crowds
Foot out, flat out. Sliding through the cornered drop.
Beautiful dry dusty trails on the Saturday
There are so many results to report on, but the top 3 fastest times of the weekend were in the 18-29 men. Over 6 epic stages only 1.61 seconds separated the top 2 men. Dam, what a contest these guys had.
1st Kelan GRANT Nukeproof / Wideopen 17:10.78 –
2nd Leigh JOHNSON Marin 17:12.39 1.61s
3rd Sam FLOCKHART Intense Racing UK 17:35.24 24.46s
This is a common theme throughout the weekend
So the 2017 Santa Cruz Ard Rock Festival, supported by Maxxis and Camelbak has been and gone, all over the social media the buzz is still ringing. Will it be bigger and better next year? I wouldn’t bet against it!
Often “trains” of riders could be seen chasing each other down the trails (Photo – Adam Sherratt)