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PMBA round 4 Gnar Bikepark

  •  Enduro, Photography, Reportage

James Swinden making easy work of the gap jump. James, riding for Cotic took the win and overall fastest time of the day

The summer break has been and gone and what better way than to get back into the action at Gnar bike park. Round four of the PMBA enduro series is a unique series race to say the least. With 8 stages all ridden twice this would sound to the uninitiated like a huge race circuit. But with stages on average lasting 30 to 45 seconds it was a crazy day’s racing. Non stop action. Many of the stages could be seen next to each other. Stages six and seven were part of a dual slalom that they have built at Gnar. This is what the locals refer to as double down.

Dual slalom as riders could literally brush bar ends on stages 6 and 7 (Double down)

Gnar Bike Park is a purpose-built mountain bike Trail Centre with the sole purpose of being able to session ever increasingly challenging jumps, drops and turns. Talking to Ben Eggleston the man behind Gnar bike park you really get a sense of his passion for the sport and what he is creating in this 46 acre forest he manages.

Ben chatting to competitors after their race. I asked Ben what drives him “When riders come off the hill and tell me they’ve done stuff they never thought they would try, that’s when I get my buzz”

The advantage Ben has at Gnar is he can build trail features not seen in your average forest. Stage five featured the 12 foot gap jump, but even this wasn’t straight forward as it has you lining up carefully or even hipping the jump to avoid oncoming trees. We all know what happened last year to a certain rider who decided to have a tree hugging session. Not far from this feature jump you can see the next planned jump being built which Ben tells me is a 13 foot gap jump but it’s much higher elevated and therefore looks a lot more daunting.

Me sizing up the next feature coming to Gnar. Photo Adam Sherratt

The plan is within four years to have more trials, building up to a 40 foot gap jump. “You just gotta send it” Head over to Ben’s youtube channel here to watch Ben’s vlog during the race (NB. Right click and open). If you’ve never been to Gnar, head over there and say “hi” to Ben. More information can be found by clicking here.

PMBA races are normally a one day event, however, with free parking and camping, quite often riders are turning up on the Saturday for a sneaky practice. This weekend also provided marshals with an advanced training session provided by the PMBA and Borderline events. Having said this the impending weather forecast did seem to hold many riders back from camping that night. I think the local Premier Inn had quite an influx of mountain bikers on Saturday night.

With Gnar being open for normal business on the Saturday riders paid their dues and had a blast around the park

Saturday provided marshals with additional training

Most stages were super fast and super short lasting approximately 30 to 45 seconds. Each rider had to ride each stage twice so during the actual race many riders opted to ride the same stage twice in a row and then move onto the next.

Martyn Woolley in the fresh cut loam on stage 8

All the stages were running well despite the intermittent rainfall. Most stages were loamy with tight turns, drops, freshly exposed roots and kickers and jumps thrown in for good measure. Stage eight was by far the longest and purpose built for the race. The push up to the top of the hill and stage starts was positioned between stages 1 and 2 with good views and heckling points heading up. This was a good way to distract you from pushing up the hill over 16 times if you include practice runs on the morning.

Jim and Callum half way through the day, only 8 more push ups.

Tom Mellows focussed down course, in front of this crowd you don’t want to mess up!

The overall fastest time of the day was James Swinden riding for Cotic, recording an incredible 12:06.84, with Pete Williams and Ian Austermuhle literally within 10 seconds. With such short sharp stages, barely nothing separated the top riders in each category. This race had Damien Ledgerwood (19-29 in 12:21.99), Tom Wilson (U19 in 12:33.91) and Calum Johnson (U16 in 13:09.47) beating some of the elite riders in overall times, kudos!

Tom Wilson 1st in U19, coming in 7th overall on the day and placed well within the elite times. Also leading the overall series. Photo Adam Sherratt

Polly Henderson was the fastest woman of the day in an incredible 13:32.48, she basically smashed it on the day.

For a full and complete run down of the results, head over to roots and rain here.

So that wraps up another PMBA enduro, but nothing like the rest in the calendar. Next up is a behemoth of an event at Grizedale and the finale of the season on 7th/8th October 2017. A massive 2 day event, with practice on the Saturday and race on the Sunday. Kev Duckworth is quoting 6 stages with an approximate 20 mile circuit. If you’ve not entered, you must be mad. Only a few places remain so head over here and sign up. Also, one for the ladies, is the Hopetech Women Enduro on 14th October 2017, places are also still available here.

Harry Hemingway cutting into the corner on double down.

Here’s a link to HDDN’s awesome video edit of the weekends shenanigans. (NB Right click and open)

I’ll leave you with a few more images from the weekends race, remember, if you’ve never been to Gnar, head over there soon and shred those trails. Get entered into the upcoming events or miss out. Snooze and you’ll lose!

Where there were features there were crowds looking on.

Not all stages go quite to plan

Katie Purvis having no trouble with the gap jump

The final push up. How many times?

With short and sharp stages and a push up each time, downhill rigs wasn’t that uncommon a sight on the day. Photo Carol Solomon

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