This weekend saw the final round of the PMBA series. Video, results, and a report from our very own Richard below.
A father figure of the enduro scene told me earlier this year: to find the right balance for your races, sometimes you need to go beyond the line to find out where the true limit is. Round five, held in Grizedale, definitely crossed that line, pushing the fitness and ability limits of many riders. For round six, Kev and the trail crew brought things back a touch. Returning to the popular location of Gisburn and supported by Escape bike shop (amongst others) this round had five stages, all of which were physical in one sense or another. Long fire road climbs (well, they certainly seem that way when you’re trying to sprint up them), flatish loam in tight trees, DH lines, and all finished of with a lung busting, leg destroying pedalfest.
Was called Loamudedden, a shortish stage we did on our previous visit here earlier in the season. Only last time there was more mud than loam. It was a surprise to find this stage was pretty much bone dry. The trail pixies had been out and built some boardwalk over the worst of the mud and had put in some hardcore where needed. It doesn’t get better than this at Gisburn, or does it? A flattish pedal darting in and out of tight trees. Polished roots littered the forest floor. It’s dark in here with moss growing on all of the trees. Near the end of this shortish stage (just over two min for most), the gradient drops you into a fast left hand rut, cut left at the end over a stump and drop down the final off-camber, rooty corner. A true wake up for the legs and senses.
This began at the furthest out point of the trail, the infamous SLAB, which looks way worse than it is. The vertical drop soon easies off, into a shallow track that needs flat loose cornering skill aplenty, and the ability to maintain speed. This spat us out onto the fire road climb to Hully Gully; it’s nothing really (when you’re pedaling up chatting), unless you’re trying to sprint. Two pedal strokes stood up and boom, seatpost up, click, click, click go the gears and leave your lungs on the track. Encouraging marshals reminding you to pedal (if somehow you’d forgot) then you drop into the resurfaced Hully Gully. Which, if you’ve ridden it, you’ll know is a track that leaves you smiling. Dipping and diving, in and out of the bottom of a stream bed, like a big natural halfpipe.
The DH line is just a right good laugh. To mix things up the PMBA crew had changed the start, which led to the first of four drops, all with B Lines if you didn’t fancy them. It’s a nice progressive line where the drops get bigger and bigger to around a foot(ish). We lost altitude quickly and before long found ourselves back in the woods. This section is a riders favorite. More roots criss-crossing the floor, catching many riders out. A straight line blast between the trees makes you feel like Luke Skywalker on a Speeder, perhaps a Stormtrooper if you get too close. It has never been so dry and fast in there. This section always finishes with large, off camber chute, and when you get it right it makes you feel like a riding god ready to be signed by a team. Basically, a lot of fun that you should definitely seek out if you’re in the area.
The Hope line is another hoot of a track. Some smaller tabletops raise those feel good endorphins. Twist and turn on some pretty flat corners and you get the opportunity to try out your jumping skills on some bigger tables and through a series of drops; it’s easy to forget you’re racing when you are having so much fun on the jumps. The last round we raced this track in, the bottom jumps were taken out as they are easy to overshoot, but this time they were in. The fastest of the fast somehow managed to turn what I see as two perfectly nice jumps into a huge triple. Don’t ask me how, but they did.
Just to make sure we arrived back at the finish without the leg power to press the accelerator, PMBA added stage five. Pedal, pedal, pedal oh don’t forget to breath and pedal some more. If you can’t tell it was pedally. But still a lot of fun. At speed, some corners were easy to overshoot, or drift toward the edge of (with a decent drop thereafter…). There were a couple of steeper chutes to give a second or two of rest, then to finish off the day we had a nice lie down on the grass to get our breath back. As more riders from our group finished, the mass-spooning got bigger, with more people pitching themselves headlong onto the grass to recover.
That’s it for the season. I’ve had a much better 2015 than I did 2014, and have kept things (a bit more) rubber side down. I’ve learnt a lot about racing and how to approach it. With mainly top ten finishes, a fourth (well chuffed with that) and sixth this weekend I managed to bag fifth in the overall series. Which again, I’m elated about. I still feel like I need to somehow find that extra 10%, but I’m not sure how to. May be some coaching is in order. We have convinced more and more friends to join us at these races, telling them, it really doesn’t matter about results, if you push your limits in fitness and ability it will make you an all round better rider. They’ve taken up this challenge and each and every one of my friends is getting better, faster and having more fun on their bikes.
The PMBA has been a perfectly pitched series for riders like myself trying to get a result and my friends who just want an excuse to ride their bikes with pals and who want to get better at riding the old push iron.
A thanks needs to go out to the venues, trail crews, marshals, medics (we kept them busy), sponsors, riders and the organisers. You all know who you are. Thank you and we’ll see you all next year for more, relaxed racing and fun on our bikes.
Here’s a podium gallery, you can find all of the results over on Roots and Rain.