661 UK Gravity Enduro Preview – Eastridge

by singletrackjon 11

Eastridge Woods in Shropshire has been used for mountain bike racing for as long as there’s been mountain biking the UK. It’s hosted national cross country and downhill events in years past and the area is well known for quality riding both downhill and cross country – which neatly brings us on to why web-boy Jon headed over there the other weekend.

The fourth round of the UK’s newest race series, SixSixOne UK Gravity Enduro, is going to be held on the technical, tight and flowing trails in the woods there. The race series aims to bring the best parts of downhill and cross country racing together in a format that rewards bike handling skill just as much as fitness.


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A modern full sus trail bike will be ideal but it's going to be more about your skill and fitness

The format is simple, much like car rallying – in each race you are timed on the five downhill stages, all of which are linked with non-competitive riding sections where you’ll be able to recover as well as enjoy the vibe.

The riding will be more fun and challenging than any cross country race and you’ll do more riding and less waiting than at a downhill event. It’s for this reason that the Gravity Enduro format is massively popular in Europe, with many British riders travelling thousands of miles to take part in this kind of event. One-off event along these lines have been run in the UK before with varying degrees of success, but now UK riders will finally have a proper series with five events spread across the whole of the country.

The timed downhill sections will involve some flat out pedalling as well as technically challenging parts and the linking stages, although mostly uphill, will have a minimum of fireroad slogging and use singletrack wherever possible. They only have to be completed within a generous set time rather than raced, so there’s no need to kill yourself getting to the next stage.

At the trails that the event will be held on at Eastridge there was an excellent mix of challenging, rocky, rooty downhill

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Linking stages won't be dull slogging - loads of purpose built singletrack has been built

trails including the famous Topography run. Steve Parr and his team have also built some beautifully flowing singletrack linking stages too. At the Eastridge course, of the 20km of riding that the event will take in, only around 200m will be fireroad climbing.

What bike do you need to take part? Think lightweight but strong 5-6″ travel machines but basically any bike will do. Bear in mind you’ll need to pick the best compromise between flat out downhill speed and all-day endurance, so if you take a long travel bike then you’ll need to take it back up the hill under you own power.

I was riding my 120mm travel Ghost AMR and it was more than enough to cope with the downs. I was being shown around by a group that included some very fast riders, including Elite racers Alex and James from the Leisure Lakes/Yeti team (follow them on the Twitterbox at @YetiUkGravity) who also helped build the trails around here – definitely ones to watch come race day.

The riding was great fun –  a full day out combined with some really fun sections of downhill that were enough to be challenging on a trail bike without intimidating. It’s a course and format that should allow all kinds of riders to put themselves to the test, whether they want a podium place or if they just want to beat their mates. It should be a full weekend of riding for your money too, with practise and seeding runs on the Saturday before race day on Sunday.

The organisers promise accurate timing, a well supported arena and there’s a whole host of sponsors offering plenty of prizes to be won at each round. I’m really looking forward to the event – it should prove to be a proper race for riders who lack enthusiasm for hurting themselves round a field or don’t fancy buying a bike just for .

Head to the 661 UK Gravity Enduro site for more info, plus a quick look at each of the rounds. Entries are filling up fast, so if you fancy a bit of racing with a difference you should probably get moving while there are still places…


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The Topography run being used for the course is rightly famous

Round 1 will be at Ae forest Dumfries, 7-8 May

Round 2 will be at Kielder, Northumberland, 11-12 June

Round 3 will be at Innerleithen, Peebleshire, 16-17 July

Round 4 will be at Eastridge, just outside Shrewsbury, 6-7 August

Round 5, the final, will be at Bryn Betws 4x track in Afan South Wales, 10-11 September

Comments (11)

  1. Come on, lovely people of the UK. It’s time to finally embrace proper Euro-Enduro racing. Here finally is your chance. This is the future of entertaining, exciting, and inclusive mountain bike racing.

  2. yep absolutely the race series to be riding in. and i was lining up to enter the 3 “southern” races. but then i saw the price. and will struggle to afford one. bummer 🙁

  3. track look awesome!

  4. That looks like really nice trails for a normal rider on a normal bike. I hope the idea spreads.

  5. I’ve already entered the Ae and Kielder rounds (having done the Avalanche Enduro at kielder twice before) and am considering the others.

    I must admit I was surprised at the price especially compared to the previous events I have done. Very expensive! It is what has stopped many of my riding buddies joining me and is making me wait to enter the other rounds.

  6. As a once-keen, now completely dis-enamoured XC racer, this really does appeal! Sounds like something that could put actually ‘fun’ into ‘racing’ – two words that hitherto would’ve been oxymornonic together. Pity the round nearest me – Afan – is the final and on a 4X track. Two words that potentially scare the bejesus out of me…

  7. no_eyed_deer – Hopefully we’ll get down and have a look at the course there too – I’m no sweet jumping 4Xer either but I reckon anyone with a normal complement of ‘wheels on ground’ skills plus fitness will do just fine – certainly nowt to be afraid of 🙂

    It’s the first ‘race’ thing I’ve heard of that bears any relation to what ‘going out for a ride’ means to me anyway.

    As for price – running a race with all that entails – accurate timing, permission to use land, going out to build the trails specifically for the race, plus accreditation (it is BC sanctioned) etc – isn’t cheap, but I reckon £60 for a full weekend with two full days of riding isn’t bad.

    Makes £70+ for a single British Downhill Series race (practise plus two 3 minute runs on race day?) or £30 for a couple of hours XC racing look a bit steep by comparison.

    Hopefully this event will take off after this year and more people will enter, which should keep the price down…

  8. I appreciate that it ain’t cheap to organise but the Avalanche events (exact same format with accurate timing) were about half the price IIRC …..?

    BDH series you get ferried to the top of the hill lots of times which usually costs 25 quid a day anyway….

  9. Mad Pierre – The BDS costs £70 + booking fee, the Avalanche events are good, not completely accurate timing though, someone trying to catch you and waive a wand over your back is not IMO, accurate.
    I understand what your saying, all of you, about the cost, this is 1 of the example i like to give,
    Normal saturday night out in any town, you’ll take what in your wallet, £70-£100, how much will you have in there in the morning? £10 if your lucky.
    The other example is quoted by SingletrackJon.

    Hope this helps, if not, post another reply.

  10. Thanks for all the positives here 🙂

  11. Not trying to be negative. I’m looking forward to it. I was just trying to point out that the cost hasn’t stopped me entering but it has stopped many of my friends who previously did this type of thing with me. Some of them are from Yorkshire though…..! 😉

    Do we get a free jersey like I did at the Avalanche too? 😮

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