So that’s where all of the country’s carbon enduro bikes (and T5 campers) went this weekend? The Ard Rock Enduro!

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Flat out in the sunshine… (Photo Mick Kirkman and Ard Rock)
It’s rare to do an enduro transition with such stunning, open views (Photo Mick Kirkman and Ard Rock)

The ‘Ard Rock Enduro once again showed that it has become the event of the year for trail riders to be at. With a greatly expanded event village and a large number of events for racers and riders, there was plenty going on and plenty to see, even if you didn’t manage to snag one of the seemingly rare race entries. They can’t be that rare as getting on for five thousand racers took part in events over the weekend, with everything from marathon events, to introductory and ‘sprint’ versions of the course as well as two enduro events taking in the full seven stages.

There were prizes… (Photo Mick Kirkman and Ard Rock)
And winners… (Photo Mick Kirkman and Ard Rock)
Peaty managed to take five seconds out of 2nd place on Stage 7. How? (Photo Mick Kirkman and Ard Rock)
Before you rode Stage 1, you had to head to the top of that.
Dan Stanton was happy with the response to Stanton’s new UK-built FS bike
There were a number of bands on all weekend to entertain.
…including the very credible UK Foo Fighters

 

Sunsets, music, beer, talking about bikes. That’s what summer’s about, right?
Many of the big brands were there with new bikes and demo rides.
That looks like an ‘after’ photo…

The Ard Rock, which was a few dozen racers and a dog, only a few years ago, continues to be based in the teeny hamlet of Fremington (where Dales Bike Centre is based), just outside the small Yorkshire Dales village of Reeth, yet there was no mistaking it this year. Signs directed riders and spectators around the place and there were several fields full of camping, as well as an expanded expo village full of goodies to fondle and even to demo.

The car park was like a Singletrack Forum Car and Camper Club meet-up

 

If you ever wondered who keeps buying those five grand carbon enduro bikes that you see in the magazines, it seemed that every one of them was at the Ard Rock, as wave after wave of racers took off to throw themselves up and down Fremington Edge and the hills and moors beyond.

The transition stages were proper hardcore climbs to earn those descents.
Hey, some of us rode this bit… 🙂

Due to the steep and unyielding terrain, even events like Saturday’s ‘Sprint’ event weren’t as easy as they sounded. Taking in Stages 1, 2 and 3, the Sprint event still saw 30km under riders’ wheels before they returned to base, and the full Enduro loop of seven stages was a proper day out. The event saw hugely popular winners, Steve Peat and Tracy Moseley, who both apparently ‘retired’ years ago, show that fast is always fast.

It was definitely part car-show
The heather was just starting to show off for the riders

It didn’t seem to wear everyone’s enthusiasm, though, as thousands remained on site long in to the evening to watch some fantastic bands playing, queue for a long time for pizza and beer, and then throw straw at each other.

 

The event and campsite dwarfed the nearby village of Reeth

Sunday dawned warm and sunny again and even the legendary Fremington Edge ‘breeze’ was modulated a little bit. As riders made their way round the valley, spirits were high and the hundreds of hecklers in attendance did much to keep racing good natured and entertaining.

Lining up for Stage 2 in the sunshine
Stage 2.5 was the most popular stage…

The only thing now to worry about is how Joe Rafferty and his pals plan on topping it for next year…

Chipps

Singletrack Editor

Chipps wasn’t around for the dawn of mountain biking in the UK, but he likes to claim that he arrived in time for second breakfast (about the time he shows up for work, then…) starting in the bike trade in 1990 and becoming a full time mountain bike journalist at the start of 1994. Over the subsequent quarter century, he has seen mountain bike culture flourish and diversify and bike technology go from rigid steel frames to fully suspended carbon fibre (and sometimes back to rigid steel as well.)

His riding style is best described as ‘medium, wheels on the ground, trail riding’ though he’s been spotted doing everything from endurance downhill racing to 24 hour cross country racing. He favours mid-travel trail bikes and claims to be wheel-size, gear, brake and tyre agnostic. In fact, his garage spans most bicycle flavours, taking in steel hardtails, carbon trail bikes, even a mountain bike tandem, along with road, touring and gravel/cyclocross bikes.

While he’s happy to chat about bikes all day, his real interest is in the people and places that bikes can introduce you to and he talks as fondly about the trails he’s ridden and riders he’s met as the bikes that took him there.

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