The 2016 ‘Ard Rock Enduro Festival

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Heard about the Ard Rock Enduro over the weekend? Our main-man, James Love, was in the thick of it, and has sent in a lovely race report on how it all went down…

The sun shone brightly across the Yorkshire Dales National Park, whilst the wind blew with annoying vigour straight into our faces. But then again, you can’t have it all right? Driving down into the Swaledale Valley on Friday evening, we could make out the bustling event village next to the Dales Bike Centre and the neighbouring field full of colourful tents and campervans.

Some of the descending stages during the Ard Rock Enduro were just flat-out fast! You could muster some massive speeds on the open sections.

Situated just outside of Reeth, the Ard Rock Enduro has only been running for four years now, but has quickly grown to become one of the most sought-after events on the British mountain biking calendar. The Ard Rock is a busy event with a contagious festival atmosphere. In the event village there’s a choice of great food and brews (both the caffeinated and beer-ish kind), and there are plenty of places to relax after a hard stage’s riding.

The provided shelter also came in handy, but thankfully this year it was from the sun’s UV and not pouring rain. There was technical support on hand from Shimano, SRAM and Mavic, and competitors could try out a range of demo bikes from Cotic. With numerous bike industry stands to peruse and live music to enjoy, the campvibes and good times are strong at the Ard Rock Enduro.

Getting prepped for the day’s riding. Shoes, helmet, pads and spare rubber in hand.

Numbers attending have grown year on year, which made for a packed-out event with plenty of excitement out on the trails. But while it was busy out on the hills, waiting in line for stage starts was never an issue, and especially with a warming sun beaming down on us.

On more than a few occasions during race stages, we did run into a bit of traffic with fellow competitors. Whether it was the wind making it hard for riders to hear the incoming shouts of “RIDER!”, or whether some riders simply required a lesson in race etiquette, either way it certainly made for some exciting moments on the fast wide-open descents.

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Look at those views! Riding rare singletrack through some of the most stunning scenery in the Yorkshire Dales.

We represented on both days of racing at the Ard Rock, with Tom and James attending on Saturday to take part in the Enduro event, while Mark and Chipps saddled up on Sunday for the Enduro Sport event. The trails are the same, and the distance is the same, but the pace is a little more relaxed on the Sunday with no cutoff time enforced.

People pointing at maps.

The riding itself is absolutely superb. The trails are rocky, fast and flowing, and it’s all set within a breathtaking landscape. The 45km long course takes in 1500 meters of climbing, so you definitely earn your turns. Wonderful views and long transitions take you right out into the Yorkshire Dales to some fantastic high thrill, loose and rocky tracks, most of which are only rideable during the event.

In addition to the main two events, there was a slightly shorter 30km  Enduro Sprint category on Saturday, which was also open to younger riders. Whichever event competitors picked, there was something for everyone who wanted to enjoy the excellent Swaledale singletrack.

Want to get a feel for what it was all about? Then enjoy our photo gallery here of the weekend’s festivities at the Ard Rock Enduro!

Clearly this rider was the most Enduro of them all – check the slack head angle on that bad-boy!
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Pre-race morning ritual.
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Let’s take this outside. And then we shall ride our bikes, and all will be right in the world.
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Shimano technicians on hand to help prep racers bikes throughout the weekend’s racing.
Likewise, the big SRAM Van setup shop to help folks dial in their suspension, brakes and gears for the gnarly and rocky singletrack.
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You can never be too prepared. Events like the Ard Rock Enduro seem to have a habit of throwing up the most bizarre mechanical issues.
Wheel truing and tyre repairs were a common sight throughout the weekend. Misjudge your tyre pressure, and the rocky trails would spit you and your bike out the other side.
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Cotic Bikes had sponsored riders out on course battling it out for glory, while the extensive demo fleet saw plenty of competitors taking up the offer to try out their new DropLink full suspension bikes.
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Some riders brought their own workshops with them. And kitchens. And bathrooms. And bedrooms.
Correct display of colour-matching for an endoooro event.
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A little souvenir to take home from the Yorkshire Dales singletrack.
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Now that’s what you call a control centre! Can you guess what each lever and switch does?
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The back-end of the Geometron, with its belt-drive setup and impressive welding.
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Any guesses as to what’s going on here with the wheels on the Geometron?
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The very rare Hope HB 211 carbon fibre machine. Note the Ohlins suspension front and rear on these stealthy matte-black beauties.
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Decked out head-to-toe with Hope bling, the HB 211 concept bike is an absolute work of art.
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This guy had two prototypes we could spot in the race pits – a unique downtube bottle cage paired with SPD flip flops. A winning combination?
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Lucky charms abound at the Ard Rock Enduro. Kittens never cease to provide inspiration mid-race.
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If in doubt, slather it with stickers.
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Temperatures and anticipation levels were rising on the morning of race day, as riders basked in the warm glow of the summer sun.
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Unusually, the provided shelter was from the sun, not rain.
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Keeping cool before lining up on the start line.
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Over 1000 riders turned up for the Ard Rock Enduro, with racing held over two days and multiple categories to choose from.
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The long climb up to the beginning of the next descending stage.
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Apparently Mark doesn’t know any other way.
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Want to see who took out the glory? Then you know where to go. For 99% of competitors at the Ard Rock Enduro though, this weekend was all about the good times.
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Battle scars following a tough weekend of racing.
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Some injuries were a little worse than others. Hope you’re not right-handed mate!
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Live music throughout the weekend kept the festival vibes rolling through the event village.
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Sunshine, mountain biking, beers, music and mates. If this isn’t what life is all about it, then we don’t know what is!
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Quality trails, with a quality reward at the end of the day. We can almost smell that woodfired pizza from here!
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That is one thirsty rider!



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Mid-race rehydration. Yes, these riders are actually in the middle of the Ard Rock Enduro!
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Yes the riding is damn good, but the Ard Rock Enduro is all about the festival vibes. Put in in your diary for next year – this one is an absolute winner!


And that wraps up this year’s Ard Rock Enduro. If you like what you see, then make sure you pencil in the event on your 2017 calendar. For further details, you can head to the Ard Rock Enduro website and Facebook page.

Comments (1)

  1. Fame at last, stood outside the pub. That was the only place it wasn’t windy! Brilliant event, if you’ve not tried it what are you waiting for? You won’t be disappointed. Strava clocked it at 26 miles with 4500 ft of climbing/pushing.

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