This weekend saw round two of the Borderline Events PMBA Enduro at Grizedale Forest in the Lake District.
Unusually, this was a closed race, with no practice on the Saturday before race day – every stage used footpaths and/or restricted areas of the forest. A big thanks goes out from PMBA to all of the weekend’s riders for respecting this rule and not having a sneaky ride down the tracks.
Although the forecast in the week leading up to the event hadn’t looked favourable, as often happens the weather played ball and the sun came out to dry the tracks and keep riders warm. The draw of an enduro event in the southern Lakeland fells brought out a number of world-class riders, including Tracey Moseley, the Flanagan brothers and West Yorks local lad, Rich Norgate. Singletrack also had a crack enduro squad entered, in the form of ad man Richard, Despatch Chap James, and honorary member (and Garage Bikes team rider) Kat Crompton. We’ll leave it to them to sum up their experiences of the event…
Stage One: Grizedale Black.
Richard: “Carron Crag was the start point for stages one and two. With no chance to even give your downhilling skills a wake up – let alone get your eye in – you quickly plummeted into the dark, close woods with a carpet of exposed roots. Tree stumps created a number of line choices into the woods before things got tight, and after a few slippery corners we were greeted by an awkward rock drop and three line choices. Straight over for the brave, take the rock on the left, or a possible alternative route to the right avoiding it completely.
“Drunken pinball wizard kung fu whaaaaa!”
Exiting the woods back into the sunshine there was a left-hand corner into a straight steep chute that was causing some issues. It was a mind game: commit to it with some speed and it was over in a flash; if you didn’t there were roots and ruts to fire you off course and into the stumps below. Another couple of root-covered corners to go and then on to some trail centre blasting from here to the finish line.”
James: “Drunken pinball wizard kung fu whaaaaa! [We think it’s safe to say James enjoyed this one… – Ed.] After pedalling up, up, up from registration I heard the marshall at the start of stage one murmur something… Did he say take it easy? I set off for my first practice run and promptly fell off as I entered the woods – slippy, exposed roots, stumps, carrying too much speed into a dark place with a mental processor that wasn’t reacting quickly enough. I staggered around, took a breath then carried on, got through the woods, into the light and hung on skipping and skimming down a high speed chute into a flat right-hander with added mid-corner root, yummy. Now pick your way through stumpville, get some cranks in across the fireroad and launch the steps, jump, jump, left and jump, right… and on and on, to finish.”
Kat: “I am still under the illusion that I can do all the things I used to do before having a baby. I can be a mountain biker and be a Mum. Plenty of other women do, plenty more Dads do. Finding a balance is tricky. Other races have made me realise I need to practice the course more though I always fear being too tired to actually race and this time round I pre-rode all four stages.
Stage one was still something of a surprise though – steep, loamy, rooty and rocky; it was tricky. Despite doing plenty of riding beyond the confines of Grizedale’s North Face Trail on the natural trails between Windermere and Coniston, stage one caught me out and saw me off a number of times in practice. Nerves had me just before I raced, mostly worrying about getting down this one unscathed. I asked for a little extra time from the marshals before they let the rider after me down and was given this. So my stage one involved concentrating purely on not crashing, and I didn’t relax until I’d passed the timing device.”
Stage Two: Carron Walkers.
James: “Oooooof, rock garden long jump! High speed into the woods and out. The rock gardens at the end of stage two drew a crowd and caused many a puncture.”
“I let go of the brakes, put a couple of pedal strokes in and thought ‘what the hell!'”
Kat: “Stages two, three and four felt like much more familiar terrain to me. A big climb back up to Carron Crag, the start of stages one and two, allowed me to breathe again. I loved the terrain of stage two, which for many riders ended at ‘puncture corner’ – not as steep as stage one, but still with roots and rocks and plenty of line choice needed.”
Richard: “A few rooted fast corners led into a typical Lakeland rock garden filled with teeth like rocks staring right at you and a largish slab to hit, go right and it’s early puncture time, the smoothest line being down the slab. This led into some wide corners, again with multiple lines to choose from, but all the time it was like navigating a mine field. Over a boardwalk and up a short punchy climb and we dropped into puncture alley, a eight-foot wide, flat out – if you dare – trail with a number of left to right line choices.
Nearing the end were two rock chutes. In practice I’d cased the first, ripping a rear tyre and denting my front wheel, so decided I’d back off a little and look for a line in my race run. For some reason though as I approached the first chute for real I let go of the brakes, put a couple of pedal strokes in and thought ‘what the hell!’ With the extra speed and commitment I made it to the bottom of the first with no issues and was straight on to the second with a feeling of success. This one is smaller and easier to clear – I’ll have no issue, surely?! Coming in red hot and at full speed, I completely launched it, easily clearing the main section and landing to flat, hitting one of the last rocks and ripping another rear tyre. This was getting expensive…”
Stage Three: The Data Tag.
James: “Braaaaap n’ splash! Fast, flow, fun in the woods.”
“Flat-out, feel-good corners”
Richard: “The shortest stage of the day, with a pedally start and a small punchy climb to three corners that you could take the inside, outside, inside lines to straighten – unfortunately after taking the outside line on the second I got myself all muddled up and ended up on the outside again! Down a few natural drops and through a little stream, another small pedal through a gate and into the last few flat-out, feel-good corners with a small catch just where you needed it to be. Over in the blink of an eye but really good fun.”
Kat: “Stage three was a blast down singletrack, through the trees and over roots. Then time for the long fire road before stage four and time passed easily, chatting to other riders.”
Stage Four: Grizedale MTB.
Richard: “Stage four was a walkers’ trail and so the corners were fast and flat, making it hard to hold a line and get through them still on the track. A small climb over a brow and the trail dropped again, zig-zagging its way to the fire road, this time on steep corners with catch berms. In my opinion these were some of the best corners of the day. Over the fire road and onto the final section of the North Face trail for a pedal – undulating and a test of stamina and lung capacity to get you to the finish in the sunshine at the Grizedale visitors centre.”
James: “Slide, pedal, pedal, PEDAL! Loose, slip slidin’ away start, slap the fireroad and over into a pedal, pedal, PEDAL rollercoaster of up, down, round and along, lungs and leg death to the finish.”
Kat: “There was a wait at the top of stage four – a shoulder injury for a rider ahead. Seeing an injured rider and a pause to racing does nothing for nerves, having previously been the reason for that pause in racing myself. Finally, go. This time, I forgot my nerves, pedaled all the pedally bits and relaxed more on the descent – and the rider behind for this stage didn’t catch me. I finished with a big smile, with my two-year old daughter waving and waiting for me at the finish line. I finished as last-placed female; at first I was upset about this but after a few frustrated tears, I’m no longer upset. I raced against professional and elite riders. I raced against 20 other strong, skilful, dedicated women. I had lots of fun on my bike, met and rode with some really nice people and hopefully one day, my daughter will be proud of me.”
1st Joe Flanagan, Hope Technology Factory Racing, 7:49.13 [also first in new category of enduro-mutt?]
2nd Callum Dew, Pioneer Scott Syncros, 7:58.33
3rd Sam Flanagan, Hope Technology Factory Racing, 7:58.63
4th Josh Lewis, Stif Cycles, 8:00.66
5th Joe Young, Infinity Cycles/Royal/Seven Protection 8:13.12
1st Tracy Moseley, Trek Factory Racing, 8:33.91
2nd Rebecca Baraona, 9:17.753rd Cheri Mills, One Planet Adventure, 9:36.59
4th Carrie Poole, Flare Clothing, 9:42.59
5th Martha Gill, Marin/Stan’s No Tubes, 9:50.12
1st Matthew Jones, Gill Cycles/Grizedale Mountain Bikes, 8:07.28
2nd Nigel Pilling, Sublime Rides, 8:16.38
3rd Rich Norgate, Magic Rock Racing, 8:21.93
4th David Read, Evil Bikes/twelve 50 bikes race team, 8:25.04
5th Matthew Prichard, Evolution bikes gravity, 8:27.32
1st Daniel Greenwood, Orange Factory Racing, 8:28.16
2nd Woody Hole, Hope Technology Factory Racing, 8:30.81
3rd Darren Howarth, Gill Cycles/Grizedale Mountain Bikes, 8:39.25
4th Scott Stephenson, 8:39.62
5th Ian Catton, 8:46.27
Grand Vet Men:
1st Nial Oxley, Mondraker – Ride-On/TwoTwo Gravity Racing, 8:09.89
2nd George Sharp, Gill Cycles/Grizedale Mountain Bikes, 8:40.61
3rd Scott Woolley, BikeWright/Paligap, 8:42.19
4th Dan Hole, Hope Factory Racing, 9:06.49
5th Jim Topliss, Steve Peat Syndicate, 9:11.84
Picture thanks to PMBA/NPM Photos, James Love and Nathan Searle.