250 riders turned out for second Army organised enduro (Pic: www.photo-it.com)
Riders were treated to near perfect conditions (Pic: www.photo-it.com)
Well were you? The weekend was the time to find out as the Army kicked of its second Are you Tough Enough enduro in style. 250 riders decided to test themselves over the 8 mile course, based at the popular Porridgepot Hill venue and were rewarded with dry dusty trails that swooped endlessly through the terrain only interspersed with a couple of strength sapping climbs just to remind them why they were there.
And despite previous days where the sun had been at full strength someone had found the dimmer switch and turned it down a shade to provide near perfect conditions, not too hot or humid with only a small but very welcome sprinkling of the dreaded usually mud inducing wet stuff.
The racing started prompt at 10.30 as you would expect from a military run event. Riders for the 6 hour event lined up ready to salute the commanding ‘officer’ or otherwise known as the man with the whistle and they were off! First obstacle was the ‘adventure playground’ or so it seemed, maybe this was going to be the sting in the tail, riders expected to swing, climb and scramble this section, that is until the trail suddenly veered away from all the fun and careered instead around the equally testing circuit, which in fact didn’t need any extras to help it live up to it’s name.
As the morning progressed riders soon got to grips with sections such as the notorious ‘Valley of Doom’, followed by the equally scary ‘Drop in Surgery’ a devious but fun bomb hole. Next up it was ‘No Quitting’ as riders tackled the short sharp climb with ingeniously tight switchbacks to increase the slog. Adrian Scott threw down his challenge early on opening up his gambit in the men’s senior race with a blisteringly hot 38 min lap, with only Ant White able to break that sub 40 min pace along with him.
By 12.30pm the 6 hour riders were by now well into their groove and soon they were joined by the crazy 4 hour crew. Fresh riders piling onto the course ready to take on their rivals and more importantly the course itself. Billy ‘The Whizz’ Whenman, was off like a rocket scorching the earth as he went leaving the rest of the 4hr seniors at a virtual standstill. Only Matthew Spurgin could lay claim to being anywhere near the fast moving Whyte rider with his sub 40 min opening lap.
As the carousel of riders continued their merry dance, ducking and a weaving it was time to let the 2 hour riders have a pop at the track. Injury stricken Ben Thomas soon showed he was back on track as he blasted round the opening lap narrowly missing out on the fastest first lap time by a mere 4 secs. Billy Joe Whenman laid claim to that baby and now sports a lovely speedy Gonzalez style Army top, to add to his massive collection. However Thomas was on a roll and kicked into touch the 2nd lap with a wicked 34.42 min lap, another sub 40 min lapssaw him cruise to victory in the senior men’s 2 hour event 1 lap clear of runner up Chris Hunt, who held off Matt Hurst in 3rd.
Dean Morgan proved that age is just a number after wiping up in the 2 hour vets race, fresh from a tough XC race in Wales the previous day. Rachael Denman despite being the only junior lady in the 2hr race could be happy not only with her lonely win but also in the fact she would have been 5th in the senior women’s race. That win was grabbed by a fast moving Nadine Spearing, with A. Laycock picking up 2nd, the only other lady to record 3 laps. In the junior 2 hour race, Daniel Bryant took the honours despite a fast opening lap by rival Ben Hawker who then paid for his fast lap and having to settle for 2nd.
In the senior 4 hour race, it was Whenman who finished what he started taking the win with 6 laps and a 9 min cushion. Spurgin held on comfortably to second while Chris Wilson picked up 3rd. In the women’s equivalent it was Katie Collins who took the win recording 5 laps, while Amy Copper picked up 2nd also with a resounding 5 laps. James D’Arcy probably had one of the closest races of the day in the vet men’s 4 hour, with a fast finishing Rick Fetherstone coming within a gnat’s whisker of stealing that top spot. Just 19 secs separated the two at the end with D’Arcy just clinging on to first.
Adrian Scott ruled the roost in the senior 6 hour, with closest rival Ant White sitting it out for 3 laps with a mechanical. Leaving Scott unchallenged to take the win, 24mins clear of 2nd placed Nick Coley, the only two senior riders to rack up an impressive 9 laps. Two 6 hour vets also racked up 9 laps; eventual winner Gavin Rumbles and runner up Craig Dolwin. The women’s 6 hr was controlled from the front by Jo Munden who swiftly took the lead and stayed there for 8 impressive laps to take the win ahead of Lorraine Staley. The 6 hour pairing of the Two Banks, recorded 9 laps to take the win ahead of Lanky Andy and Bigfoot, while the team event was taken by Rock & Road Yeovil.
Last but not least at the near end of the day was a chance for those that just wanted to chill and enjoy the course a chance to sample a lap in the fun race. It just popped that cherry on the top for an event that was fun and had something for everyone. It was a great day with Mulebar and ForGoodnessShakes supplying much needed energy food and recovery drinks.
The Army Cycling Union would like to thank all who turned up and competed. Also a big thanks to our generous sponsors and supporters, including Generation Sports and cycles, Mulebar, For Goodness shakes, Giant UK, Superstar Components, Dirtworker, Component Creatives, and support from Extreme Medics, Timelaps and GORRICK MBC.