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