Pics © Joolze Dymond
With some parts of the country experiencing sub-aqua conditions, nearly 400 keen riders, armed with sowesters, wellies and a paddle or two (and many who had never ridden this type of event before), were prepared to brave the worst to take part in the first 12 hour enduro organised by those masterminds behind the popular Gorrick series.
After the deluge the previous day, where seemingly a month’s worth of rain fell in one day causing events up and down the country to be cancelled, fingers were crossed that all this watery misery would not hamper proceedings and more importantly not turn the perfectly crafted 8 mile loop into yet another enduro mudfest, a common theme this year. Fortunately, the course, although having a few sections that took on the guise of swamps, was perfectly ridable, though tough, bringing the phrase “Moist and Chewy” to mind, rather than wet and sloppy!
At the perfectly respectable time of 12 noon, timed to coincide with the first of many showers over the day, the riders started on their epic adventure situated at Minley Manor. Paul and Jon had crafted a typical Gorrick course, with plenty of fast, flowing singletrack, linked by short, sharp bursts of fire road plus a few technical surprises thrown in just to keep riders on their toes. The biggest surprise had to be the car alarming, ear drum shattering bangs that went off randomly over the day as the Army decided to play manoeuvres in the adjoining field!
The start section was a quick blast around the edge of the campsite before plunging into the surrounding woods. Soon the riders encountered a long, steep climb, stringing the masses out before they hit the first singletrack section at full pelt. Then it was a case of weaving their way round sinuous singletrack threaded through tall trees, before whizzing down descents making the most of fast moving wheels. Highlights of the course were the “shall I, shan’t I?” bridge, a small section of northshore, with the option of plunging into the ditch alongside. Those that chose the ditch may still be trying to extract themselves now…
Next had to be the “puddle of extreme doom”, a noxious-looking stretch of water gathered between two high and unforgiving rhododendron bushes…. Who knew what lay in wait under that dark sludge, many came a cropper as it seemed almost bottomless. Most however rode it with a flourish and forged through, leaving all the oil off their chains in doing so, to squeak their way round the remainder of the course.
Finally the finish stretch gave riders a tantalising glimpse of home comforts as they hurtled down the fire road towards the arena, only to be cruelly directed to the left to start a loop that weaved away from and then towards said arena before finally diving to the changeover area where team mates hopefully lay in wait. Apart for the soloists who just started all over again.
Talking of soloists, a great showing of some top boys was sure to make this a tight fought challenge, with Anthony White, mixing it with Rob Lee, Adrian Scott and a singlespeeding Phil Moore. However it was XC boy George Budd, who led the way, at least for the first couple of hours, until his dodgy knees gave way, leaving White to take on the mantle being chased all the way by Scott, Moore and James Cameron. With all of these top 4 guys racking up 13 laps, it was White who held the lead to take yet another win.
The competition was no less fierce in the ladies solo race, with 6 ladies keen to get stuck in. Eventual winner Nicola Macleod flew from the gun, opening up a lead of nearly five minutes on the first lap, where she never looked back. Which is just as well as not far behind was Elaine Burroughs keen to get on terms with the Helly Hansen rider. Despite recording an equal 10 laps Burroughs had to concede to a powerful MacLeod who took the win by over 49mins advantage.
Well done to the ladies of West Drayton MBC who took the prize of the ladies pairs, hopefully next year a few more ladies will be brave enough to take this pair on! The men’s pairs had loads of entries and provided some captivating racing. James Hampshire and fellow 29er Christian Aucote took on the challenge and scored an impressive 15 laps, with the next 7 teams recording 14 laps, it was a tight finish, but the Banjo Cycles 1 boys just edged out the Torq/Kona pair.
The mixed pairs saw the lead change quite a few times over the course of the event, with eventual winners Aircom clocking up a cool 14 laps, a lap ahead of the Scott/Evans Cycles team, who edged the Banjo Cycles 2 pairing into third by just 36 seconds.
Just nine minutes separated the top two spots in the mixed teams with the aptly named Expresso Gruppetto 3 taking that all important victory over the Purple Bike Shed. Meanwhile it was all guns blazing in the men’s teams with the whippersnappers (and Paul Hopkins…) of the Mountain Trax Elite Squad took on the might of the Pedalon.co.uk team, with Torq/Kona trying to get in on the action. However those fast flying youngsters (and a couple of oldies) took the race to the wire, never easing off the gas to well and truly take the win with a massive 18 laps, a full lap clear of arch rivals Pedalon who took second. Torq/Kona bagged a podium spot for the event sponsor in third, another lap down.
And so by midnight the lurkers resting in the dark corners of the course came flooding in, after one big burst of wetness around 8pm the rest of the night had stayed relatively dry and riders now gladly finished for a change of dry clothes and the promise of a hot cuppa and some free beer. I have it on great authority that beer is full of carbs and a great recovery drink. By 2am, prizes had been handed out and weary riders were on their way home or back to their tents, ready for another ride in the morning, for the dedicated at least.
Thanks to everyone who took part and seemed to be smiling all the way round, thanks to the sponsors for providing copious amounts of energy drink (Torq) fine lighting support (Lumicycle), Saddle Skedadle (The chance to head off to sunnier climes..) and many more tempting things to take the mind of the task in hand – Action Cameras, Dodgy Gear Clothing, Bike Goo cleaning materials, 1st Gear Cycles, Camberely Osteopathic Clinic, Vertebrate Outdoor, and Chelmer Cycles with the Cannondale demo truck. Oh, and not forgetting the lovely peeps of the Gorrick who used their expertise to bring you this cracking event – thanks guys!