Fetish UK Gravity Enduro Series Rd.3: Hamsterley Results & Report

Our enduro correspondent James Green reports from a difficult and dusty third round, complete with drama on and off the bike…

Cor blimey mate! The third round of this year’s Enduro series did not disappoint…

Gravity Enduro Hamsterley (5)

Mr Green in B&W. Pic by Jo Woodhall

This round wasn’t just for the riff raff – some of the UK’s finest by way of Joe Barnes, Dan Atherton and Alex Stock were in attendance, battling it out against some series regulars like Neil Donoghue, Ralph Jones and Rob Cooksley, all making for a very interesting round. There was a definite buzz about the place when we arrived early Saturday morning and setting up the Leisure Lakes pits with my wingman John Adams-Martin we couldn’t wait to get saddled up and hit the trails.

Having never ridden Hamsterley before I was really looking forward to riding some new trails in the forest, which is wedged between Teesdale and Weardale in the heart of the Durham Dales. And it certainly didn’t disappoint. When approaching Hamsterley you wouldn’t really think that there were a load of downhill, 4x and cross country trails plonked within as it’s flat as a pancake. As you descend into the forest valley you soon realise its potential.

The stages

Stage 1: Root fest – Star Wars

Known as root fest it did exactly what it said on the tin. The start was relatively flat in gradient on a rooty rutted path. As the trail started to point down the speed really picked up and fired you into the woods. A short fire road sprint flowed into some nice swoopy corners and then picked its way through a number of woopy straights, some long flowy corners and then a short sharp descent to the finish.

Stage 2: Section 13 +

After a long slog up to the top of the valley the stage began on a quick blast through a number of sweeping turns and jumps. After another short fire sprint the stage dropped into some of the best singletrack of the day. The trail was all natural and a number of loose drifty turns had formed allowing you to kick up some roost.

Gravity Enduro Hamsterley (4)

It's not all about racing... Pic by Jo Woodhall

Stage 3: Special K – Brain Freeze

After a very short pedal up the road the stage provided a mainly manmade trail which had a killer fire road climb in the middle. After the climb most riders (later caused some controversy) took a few sweeping corners and followed the trail which gradually descended to the finish. At the finish there was a choice between the ladder drop or the chicken line into the finish. I’m sure one or two may have struggled to make the corner afterwards and would have laid it down.

Stage 4: 4x – NPS DH

What a stage! Beginning on the 4x start hill riders were faced with the first couple of jumps on the track which then fired you straight into the action. One of the most notable features of this stage was previous to the fire road crossing which was a steep rock strewn corner. During practice I saw a few falls and punctures at this point. The stage then continued down the NPS DH which had more lines than you could shake a stick at. The combination of jumps, roots and off camber turns made it very difficult.

Gravity Enduro Hamsterley (6)

Dan Atherton made his first UKGE appearance and finished second, despite the odd spill. Pic by Jo Woodhall

Stage 5: Antenna

The stage was relatively straight forward and combined a number of flat drifty corners, an uphill fire road sprint and yet again some more drifty corners.

Results

Seeding seemed to go quite well for me and no major issues were present when I came down and checked my time. I thought I’d got a pretty decent time as I’d changed tyres to a rear Schwalbe Racing Ralph which were seriously grippy and fast rolling. However, after checking my own time 20 minutes later against the official times I had a totally different time – they’d sold me short by 20 seconds! (Note to self: Strava it!) It was later decided on Sunday morning that Saturday’s seeding results were to be scrapped due to a number of discrepancies in the times. Word from Steve Parr was that when the timing box from the top of the track was retrieved some of the times didn’t marry up and it was therefore decided that they wouldn’t count to the overall times.

After that technical hiccup we tried to put the previous days timing issues behind us and get on with the day’s racing. Dan Atherton and Neil Donoghue both had offs in their runs and were sporting grazed knees and dirt scuffs on their kit so the results were anyone’s guess. Box ‘Rob Cooksley’ also seemed to be going really well until a mechanical on the final stage. All in all the stages went well for me and I had no major problems and finished the day 12th Elite.

Rumours were also rife after stage 3 that some well known elite riders had taken a cut and gained a significant time advantage after the steep climb. These riders were later confronted and received a time penalty for their actions. It’s a shame that these riders feel the need to try and find a time advantage from taking shady lines and not let their riding do the talking. Play fair lads – you aren’t doing the sport any favours! Rant over (for now!).

After an hour or so the results were totted up and were as follows:

Gravity Enduro Hamsterley (1)

The fastest men: Stock, Atherton and Barnes. Pic by Jo Woodhall

Bike Soup Under 18
1st Joe Buck
2nd Peter Hook
3rd Joe Harrison

Osprey Europe Women
1st Cherri Mills
2nd Liz Simmons
3rd Hanna Jonsson

Troy Lee Veteran
1st Marcus Jones
2nd Robert Carr
3rd Rick Ellis

Gravity Enduro Hamsterley (2)

The fastest ladies: Moseley, Gaskell and Newman. Pic by Jo Woodhall

Grand Veteran
1st Stephen Felstead
2nd Kevin Baines
3rd Dave Wills

Osprey Europe Master
1st James Richards
2nd Ian Austermuhle
3rd Bruce McCleary

Streak Clothing Senior
1st Sam Flanagan
2nd David Mirfield
3rd Rupert Fowler

Schwalbe Tyres Elite Women
1st Tracey Moseley
2nd Helen Gaskell
3rd Sarah Newman

Continental Tyres Elite Men
1st Alex Stock
2nd Dan Atherton
3rd Joe Barnes

Overall
1st Alex Stock
2nd Dan Atherton
3rd Joe Barnes
4th Alex Rafferty
5th Ralph Jones

Summary

The general vibe about Hamsterley from the riders was that it made an awesome venue for a Gravity Enduro Race and I will definitely be returning. The stages provided a great mix of natural and built (trail centre) trails pushing most riders to their limits. If you get chance you should go check them out.

“I had an average weekend and the track gave me a lot to think about. I could have done with an extra days practice. The tracks were quite natural and gave a good mix of roots and rocks. It’s been a top weekend!”
Chris ‘Deadly’ Headley (Veteran)

“It was a tough weekend for me, a crash put me out of contention. But the trails were really good. Just a shame people weren’t staying to them and taking very dubious shortcuts. Hopefully the organisers can take some extra measures to make it harder for these people to take blatant cheating lines.”
Neil Donoghue (Elite)

Steve and Adrian worked to the best of their abilities to provide a race which challenged all riders and provided a fantastic friendly atmosphere to ride in. There still seems to be some uncertainty about the timing (seeding) and if it doesn’t seem to be 100% accurate people will start to lose interest. I hope that these creases are ironed out as soon as possible as I can’t recommend this series enough to anyone who likes racing mountain bikes.

Gravity Enduro Hamsterley (9)

Thirsty work. Pic by Jo Woodhall

My final plea…

(Rant continued…) It also seems that as each round progresses more and more people seem to be trying to push the boundaries of what is acceptable MTB Enduro etiquette. There is a difference between choosing a line and cutting the tapes and riders should respect that. Steve and Adrian are doing the best they can to tape and police the stages but there is only so much they can do. So if anyone is willing to help them marshal on race day they would be very grateful for your help – as would most of the racers.

I’ve got to say a big thanks to all my sponsors, Leisure Lakes Bikes, YETI Schwalbe, Renthal, Chris King, Royal, Fox Racing Shox, Ballard, Wenlock Springs and Muc-off for keeping me on the track. We’ve got a big gap now until the next round at Eastridge on the 4/5th August so keep those legs spinning.

All the best!

Green

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For further shots of the event, head to Roots & Rain

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