The gods obviously love enduro riders - with Friday and Saturday relatively dry and race day only having a few light showers the trails had dried out to an acceptable level to provide just enough grip for fast speeds yet kept the adrenaline high with each twist and turn of the stages being a potential wash out if pushed too hard.
Marshals reported plenty of spectacular offs but thankfully enduro riders are a rare breed of rubber-boned creatures that bounce well. With a relaxed atmosphere and the nicest bunch of entrants you could wish to meet the banter was lively and camaraderie high between competitors yet once on the starting gate of the stages they all seemed to take on Stig like steely determination to get the job done to the best of their abilities.
A secret 25km course with six relatively unknown special stages provided a real test of every type of skill in the riders armoury from wet and rooty to greasy fast downhill’s and on to punishing technical, undulating terrain that tested stamina, gear and pedalling efficiency to the max.
I tried to have stages that would please the seasoned pro yet be rollable for the less experienced and help push them on in their skills and confidence. No doubt quite a few went home with a real feeling of satisfaction they had pushed their limits and survived!
Punishing short sharp [read steep] climbs sapped the energy and burned the legs yet with the minimum of fire road use and maximum single track to get you to your next stage, the transition stages made for good riding and a chance to recover to do it all over again. Transition times were relaxed so you could chat with your mates unless you had a flat or mechanical as a few did in which case the pressure was really on to stay on time where a couple struggled to do so don’t think it’s easy guys as that could be you next time.
Stage two had the competitors showcasing their best Danny MacAskill type skills with tricky feet up trials section with only quarter of the field cleaning the course. Rest easy Danny you have no worries from this lot…
The teams had to be seen to be believed! Great mix of characters and you could feel the ‘love’ between them as they egged each other on especially the team chase stage where rider order played a vital part to dragging the slowest team member across the line. Each had his role to play and each had to ride to their max in order to keep the team times low and not let the side down.
With only three girls making the start they did themselves proud and all finished a course that a lot of riders wouldn’t dare tackle. Both myself and Steve Parr the organiser of the Fetish Gravity Enduro series, who competed on the day, are keen to get more girls into this sport as we want to see the next Tracy Moseley come through the ranks and take on the world in enduro racing so put the shout out and encourage your friends/partners etc to give it a go guys.
So the stages went like this
Stage 1. The Time Pedals stage; ‘Twist & Shout’ = 1.5km
Lovely woody twisty decent that seems to never stop before spitting riders onto a short down and up fire road sprint and back into the woods again for a bit more to the finish.
Stage 2. The Lezyne stage; ‘Tricky Dicky’
Trials type skill stage with feet up and no clinging to trees for support, short course, to show their balance, braking and gear selection skills.
Stage 3. The MBR stage & Team Chase; ‘Climax’ = 1km
The team chase stage with a gentle rolling start to warm riders up, builds the tension. A meandering steep, fast decent with fantastic views across the valley that few realised were there to see such was their concentration on the course that eventually spat them out on an awesome climatic finish with a guaranteed smile on their face and sticky palms!
Stage 4. The Pivot Cycles stage; ‘Deep Breath’ = 1.2km
Once again a nice technical rolling start which unfolds into a series of steep challenging sections that begged for grip and raised the heart rate so riders had to remember to breath!
Stage 5. The Fetish Bike Co stage; ‘Tanglefoot’ = 1km
Starts with a no dab section and then off on a timed skill section negotiating undulating technical terrain. The little skill tester to start, with a 10sec penalty added to the riders time if they did not clear meant their time started once set off so if they failed to clear the section they had to run as fast as they could to a spot they could get going again as they would be losing time as well as incurring the 10sec penalty.
Testing endurance gear and pedalling skills this was the least favourite
stage without doubt but it had to be there as this is enduro racing and competitors must be able to race every type of terrain to prove they are truly great all round riders!
Stage 6. The Schwalbe stage; ‘Bottle Opener’ = 1.3km
Nice rolling start building speed into a fast left hander and tighter right with an off camber root section spitting riders onto the fire road and then plunging down into a root fest of technical decent and the final roller coaster with what looks like a wall of death to shoot up and over onto the final sprint to the finish made for a fantastic final stage.
Stage three and six seemed to be the favourites with stage three living up to its name with whoops of delight and oh my Gods abounding.
Corresponding raffle tickets to the rider’s race numbers were pulled out of the hat in order to win some fantastic spot prizes from Lezyne, DMR, The Fetish Bike Company and MBR Magazine which meant a lot of riders ended up with a prize for their efforts. Also the one and only Steve Parr organiser of the Fetish Gravity Enduro gave away a free entry to one of his rounds to the rider that impressed him the most on the day. So a big thank you to all our sponsors as it means we can give something back to you guys that believed in the race format and had the courage to give it a go!
On to what everyone has been waiting for; the results:
Competitive Class winners
1st Charlie Williams - Fetish Bike Company (Santa Cruz Nomad) 14.01mins
2nd Ryan Bevis (Ram All Mountain) 14.05mins
3rd James Green – Yeti/Leisure Lakes (Yeti SB66) 14.19
With only 18 seconds between the top three and a close field behind them and with two rounds to go it looks like the title will be a hard fought fight to the bitter end!
1st Fetish Bike Company (49.02mins)
2nd Sketchy Scorchers (53.13)
3rd Sketchey B (53.45)
Fetish takes the win but can they maintain it through two more rounds? The battle of the Sketchy boys looks like a real bun fight with the Scorchers literally feeling the heat from the B team. Hand bags at dawn guys but no hair pulling and watch the nails at round two!
Full results pictures and report can be found on the website www.enduro1.co.uk
An amazing start
The Forest Of Dean proved to be an amazing start to the series and we will be back there next year with new trails and stages. So it is on to Salisbury Plain for round two.
A different type of venue with very different style stages that will suit some riders more than others so the game is on to see who will be the series winners and we have the might of the British Army helping out at this one with keen mountain bikers from 26 Engineers Regiment fielding a team and helping out on the day alongside the Tidworth Free Ride Club so expect the unexpected!
On a final note I wanted to create a series that would get trail riders into a form of racing relevant to them. What made my day was when an Irish lad came up to me and shaking my hand thanking me for a fantastic race and that it was his first race ever and that he had loved every minute of it.
That’s what I want to hear and that is why I love mountain biking so much as it has a real bad habit of putting a grin on your face long after the pain has gone.