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  • PMBA/BNES/Southern, EWS qualifiers… explain it all please ?
  • Premier Icon weeksy
    Full Member

    Next year we’re looking at more Enduro racing. Due to the nature of Enduro being an all-dayer i’ll be doing the rounds too with the boy. But i will be the first to admit, it’s mostly him we’re doing it for. I’ll be happy not to be last, he’s trying to get higher than his current best of 8th.

    Anyway.. There’s so so many different organisers i see out there and today Pinkbike threw out a post about PMBA, now i’ve heard of PMBA before but we’ve not done their events. I’d even argue looking at it from first glance they may be a bit excessive for the lad in terms of distance/time ?
    We’ll deffo be doing the full season of Southern Enduro. But debating where and how to focus any ‘extra’ racing that he/we would fancy doing.

    His realistic/unrealistic goal longer term is to race EWS, but as he’s only 13 that’s a distant plan and we all know how kids change their minds and passions, but MTB does seem to be sticking with him, so who knows.

    Assuming you were the parent of a budding youngster, where would you focus your plans and why ?

    The only real stumbling block seems to be time and distance for us, trecking up to the lakes/yorks border is one thing, but Scotland is a bit of a monster for us, especially if we’ve got other events that month too. So if we do a Scotland trip it’d arguably need to be a standalone trip rather than a full series. It may be slightly unfair on him, but it’s the reality of the world i’m afraid.

    Premier Icon kimbers
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    The PMBA and Scottish races are a step up from the Southern series. The trails are longer steeper and more technical.
    Only the southern Champs really come close and even then, its not an ews.
    The Welsh series are a good shout too.
    If you want to get a feel for an ews then PMBA Champs, tweedlove series are a good start,
    Naugty Northumbrian is pretty close on tech & distance to an ews too.

    As for driving a lot, there’s really not much you can do, the kids your lad will be up against will be hitting that terrain every weekend & there really is no substitute for practice/racing on big steep hills!
    Wales is probably the best bet, not close but not as far as Scotland – though I’d still recommend at least one tweedlove

    Premier Icon weeksy
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    As for driving a lot, there’s really not much you can do, the kids your lad will be up against will be hitting that terrain every weekend & there really is no substitute for practice/racing on big steep hills!

    I hear you mate, i really do… but there has to be a little reality in there too

    And i know that’s not going to help him, i really do… but there’s only so much time and money.

    Premier Icon Hob-Nob
    Free Member

    They are just different series of events. You should also include the South West Enduro Series, Welsh Enduro Series & if Charlie decides to bother the Welsh Gravity Enduro Series.

    There’s also the random one off’s, like Ard Rock etc, Tweedlove & countless others.

    Some series are harder than others. The Southerns are pretty entry level in terms of distance & track difficulty (and as a result of that, fitness requirements). The Welsh ones get a bit tougher, some of the PMBA’s are pretty tough (especially if the weather is crap). The Scottish Enduro Series race some spicy stuff compared to down south.

    EWS qualifiers exist & just piggyback off a normal race. Essentially, there are just EWS points up for grabs for the top finishers in a few categories. Get enough of them with an EWS licence & you can sidestep the lottery entry system. It’s less of an issue now they break out age categories a lot more & have the EWS50/80/100 races too. I’d you do well enough in the 100 & you really want to get smoked, you can go race the main event.

    I’m not a parent so my opinion might be irrelevant but at 13, you are essentially a sponge for skills development. Even if you do 10/15 races a year, which is a decent amount, it is still an insignificant amount of riding compared to just time on the bike. I’d be focussing on that, and racing can be a by product.

    If I could wind the clock back & start again now it would be pump tracks, dirt jumps, DH days & going to find the dirtiest, longest & steepest off piste I could find, to ride my normal bike down in the Welsh Valleys as much as I possibly could.

    Premier Icon weeksy
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    Thanks both… we do as much as possible, but there are limitations, especially in the winter as it’s getting dark earlier… but even today i’m meeting him at school to go out playing.

    I don’t actually think he’ll ‘make it’ these days whereas once upon a time i thought that may be possible. But i do want to give him the best chances and experiences possible.

    Living in West Berks doesn’t help much in terms of both terrain and driving !

    Premier Icon gallowayboy
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    My son started on pmba (on our doorstep so only kirroughtree really needed an overnight trip) when he was 15, then added the nearer of the Welsh the following year. By that time he knew other kids and parents could share driving. But he struggled to do more than 4/5 races a year until he was 18 as he had a Saturday job as well. Some of his peers were being driven around the country to 20 races a year….be under no illusions, the level of commitment and spending of some families is staggering; as I worked Saturdays as well I couldn’t keep up!
    Every year half a dozen or so races from each of the series get rated for the British series, but I think the governing body has folded? Scottish series has also folded, but the races carry on. It’s complicated, and fluid, sportident have a comprehensive calender, as has roots and rain, where you can follow riders progress over the races. I’d say it’s be worth adding a couple of longer longer trips to the southern series to start with, a pmba maybe llandegla? Greythwaite is hard but a good measure of when your boy can step up. Under 16s need chaperone riders, so you can get a shot as well! Tweed valley races are a physical step up, but great experience.
    Edit hob nob probably sums it up better😂
    Edit again! Yeah the southern Welsh races would be handier for you…

    Premier Icon weeksy
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    Under 16s need chaperone riders, so you can get a shot as well!

    LOL any good news for me ? I find the technical nature of the Southerns hard enough.

    We’ve seen many many of the same faces at events this year, be it DH or Enduro and i’ve no doubt on how many some of them will be doing yeah, it’s crazy. We’re lucky that we don’t have anything else getting in the way, other than Mrs Weeksy, who’s supportive of all this, so no biggy there.

    We’re happy venturing up to wales, we’ve done a DH and an Enduro up by Dyfi this year as well as the Southerns and FoD etc… Next weekend we’re at 417 racing, but obviously it’s getting quieter so it’s a question of using winter to save some funds up for next year. But that’s also complicated by a week on Morzine we’ve got booked. As much as i want him to race, we have to have some fun and adventures along the way too 🙂

    Premier Icon jimmy748
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    If he wants to race EWS then he needs to be able to pedal! get over to South Wales and ride the Off Piste at Cwmcarn/Risca/Afan etc, the downhills are far better training than any bike park and the pedalling back up will get him fit.

    Premier Icon weeksy
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    @jimmy748

    If he wants to race EWS then he needs to be able to pedal! get over to South Wales and ride the Off Piste at Cwmcarn/Risca/Afan etc, the downhills are far better training than any bike park and the pedalling back up will get him fit.

    I do need to get our shit together and hook up with you at some stage and get some guiding going on stuff, both in terms of location and skillsets for him. He’s not shy of a pedal.. but he’s not a machine that’s for sure. As with most youngsters a lot depends upon what one turns up each day, some days he’ll pedal for miles and miles, some days after 20 mins the toys will come out of the pram.

    Premier Icon Akers
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    I’d second what @Jimmy748 says. Add Barry Sidings and Pontypool to that list of places worth a visit for steep challenging EWS level enduro trails. From west Berks, south wales is only 2 hours away so easily doable for a day riding or racing.
    There are also plenty of places closer to home for working on skills, while not having to journey long distances. Rogate and Tidworth B1ke parks are well worth a ride (they also host races), and there are plenty of lesser known spots in places like the Surry hills where there are trails that while short, are technically as challenging as some EWS track I’ve ridden.
    Having said all that, there really is no easy way of replicating the experience and sensation of stage racing.

    Premier Icon jimmy748
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    @weeksy I’ve WhatsApp’d you.
    Another thing i would add is not stopping at the top of a climb, even if it’s just a smashing a small hill like Rogate, pedal up, fast run down, then straight back up and drop in immediately, repeat until
    you’ve done 10 miles.

    Premier Icon weeksy
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    From west Berks, south wales is only 2 hours away so easily doable for a day riding or racing

    Oh i’m fine with that, i’m actually off to Afan and BPW this weekend. Driving to south wales isn’t an issue for me/us at all.

    Premier Icon gallowayboy
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    The pedaling thing…..it’s noticeable how many of the kids who progress into EWS have cross country or cyclo cross racing in their history as well as downhill/regional enduro. Its not just the transitions, some ews stages have a high emphasis on pedaling/uphill sprints where a lot of time is made or lost.

    Premier Icon jameso
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    His realistic/unrealistic goal longer term is to race EWS, but as he’s only 13 that’s a distant plan and we all know how kids change their minds and passions, but MTB does seem to be sticking with him, so who knows.

    Assuming you were the parent of a budding youngster, where would you focus your plans and why ?

    I’m not a father of teenagers or an enduro racer so take this as you may – if he’s got an eye on EWS and just about into top ten at times in Southern series at 13, maybe the long-term gains come from being mid pack in a tougher series now, vs higher up in easier races. Trade top 5-10 now for being stronger and techically better at 16. He’ll need to see the long-term plan and not be focussed on a less meaningful result now. He may develop more as a rider as he grows more mentally and physically than he would do in a less demanding series, may be doing what fewer riders might be doing and gain from that experience. It might well knock him back to begin with but that resilience is crucial and he needs to know if he has it or how to cope with it, what support is needed along the way, etc. Think long term when it’s tough.

    (edit to add, only posting any opinion as I saw a clip you posted of him going off a drop that I’d never do now and wouldn’t have had the confidence for 20+ years ago – fair dues to him and best of luck!)

    Premier Icon weeksy
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    @jameso

    Whether you have kids or not, i’m happy to listen to anyone and everyones thoughts. This wasn’t necessarily about a thread purely about my lad, it was more ‘what’s the difference between PMBA/EWS/BNES’ more than just a thread about my lad.

    This year has been a feet finding experience for us, as much for me as it is for him. It’s a complex world as we’re both at very different ends of the skills/progression spectrum, he’s a fast lad and i’m propping up the back end. So there comes a time soon when i have to let him spread his wings to an extent and let him out on his own to find his feet in events. I’d be more than happy at say a Southern Enduro to let him and his mates ride without parents, but less inclined at say some of the bigger events and especially on trails/tracks he’s not raced before.
    None of that is because i think he’s not up for it, or capable etc. It’s mostly because in my world he’s still quite a small boy, he’s lived in a little village bubble and him and the lads don’t have any real world experience. If one of them goes down badly, they ring a parent, we sort it…. so sending them out in Wales up a mountain on their own, well it’s not an option yet.

    He’s good at accepting his place in the world in terms of results, first DH race was a Gravity DH series him and his mate were last and 2nd last. He wasn’t upset, the pair of them were just happy to get to the bottom and survive (well, mostly)

    I guess reading this thread has shown me though that maybe he/we need to work on hitting various aspects of training harder. The climbs he’s OK with, but only to an extent, like all of us, he prefers going down. But doesn’t necessarily want to race DH.

    All in all i’m just trying to plan out 2022 for us in terms of what events we do or don’t do.

    We’ve got 2 core sets of events
    Southern Enduro
    Gravity DH

    We’d also then like to throw in another set of events. He/We don’t fancy PEdalhounds as we both think the technical aspect is too low.

    So it was a question really of “what of the above will best prepare him for …..” and i think in many ways we’re covered above with pedal more, pedal harder and harder terrain lol.

    Premier Icon ayjaydoubleyou
    Free Member

    slight hijack about comparative difficulties.
    Ive done the Southerns, including the Champs. And I’ve done Ard Rock 2021 full course.
    There have been some small sections in the Southerns where in the wet I’ve found it unridable. Either I’ve been B-lining it, tripoding my way down, or inching down at a snails pace when I know better riders are jumping the whole thing, bunnyhopping up to the high line etc. Compared to a wet ard rock where I got round with a few foot dabs in the lower woods.
    Wet woodland would appear to be my weakness, so guys who have done the other series, how do they compare?

    Premier Icon weeksy
    Full Member

    i feel that pain Ajay. The milland and Minehead both had certain aspects of stuff i really struggled with.
    Milland was a techy log entry into stage 5 along with a downhill chute on stage 3 i think it was.

    Minehead had a couple/three jumps that i completely woosed and went round and i felt properly disappointed afterwards in myself.But Minehead also had some downhill/root/offcamber sections that i managed to get down, but how the heck the fast guys do it in half my time, is completely beyond my comprehension.

    I don’t know if there’s an answer for me as a rider/person. I did a Haibike Enduro at Dyfi area with another STWer and my lad and was a little higher up the field than i am with Southerns…. but still not exactly setting the bunch on fire. However, someone has to come last and if that’s me, as long as i enjoy myself, that’s fine.

    Premier Icon whatyadoinsucka
    Free Member

    scottish enduro (nofuss events) is now part of the EWS group
    https://www.enduroworldseries.com/news/1686-eso-acquires-the-scottish-enduro-series/

    have a look at the pmba events, the easier one is now sold out, Kevin gives some good commentary on the events,
    graithwaite in the lakes is renowned to be the tougher one. i rode the kirroughtree one the other year, 4 of the 5 stages are simple enough, the final stage was steep and wet/muddy, chatting to the scottish riders their favourite stage [and similiar golfie/inners riding.]

    Premier Icon weeksy
    Full Member

    Well the Southern Enduro series dates are now out and we’re both entering at 5 of the series to try and get a decent overall, well, him anyway. I’d be happy with a couple of non-last 🙂

    PMBA have also released their dates.

    Events

    But i’m sitting struggling in terms of what i can ride realistically and what i can also afford too. We may just end up doing the Llangollen Mashup from that series. I’d love to do the Graythwaite, but at £160 for both of us in entry alone, it’s a massive reach and i don’t fancy sending him out on that sort of a day all alone…. plus, i do enjoy riding too, so i don’t wanna miss out myself.

    Premier Icon weeksy
    Full Member

    Question for anyone with knowledge, say we were going to enter the National Champs DH @ Glencoe. National Downhill Championships
    Glencoe, Scotland, 23 – 24 July
    Event organiser: Scottish Downhill Association (SDA)

    Would we have any pre-requisites needed like qualifying points from other races in the series etc ? Even though that one is a bloody long way away it’s sort of a bucket list i guess to race in the nationals and he’d also have some of his MTB heroes there too to be a little star-struck.

    Premier Icon gallowayboy
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    You don’t have to pay to ride as a non competing chaperone at PMBA events, so you could save a bit on entry fees…might not be as much fun though.

    Premier Icon weeksy
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    Hmmm that’s interesting, but i think the problem may be me getting in the way of competing riders as much as the money aspect of it… Whilst i can get down trails that are tricky and techy, history has shown i’m not quick and would be caught by the rider behind, which isn’t really fair. It’s a bit different when at Southerns i’m competing, as i have paid and earned the right to be on the track… but as a chaperone taking a freebie, i don’t think i’d be comfortable with that.

    Premier Icon gallowayboy
    Full Member

    When I did it, I just told the start marshal that I was likely to be a hold up and they gave me a good time barrier. They were also OK, on the day, with another parent (better at enduro!) effectively chaperoning two young riders, so I could avoid being a hazard on the worst stages!

    Premier Icon weeksy
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    I tried that at a few Southerns and still had the baying dogs 🙂 hahaha. I do get your point 100% though and it’s certainly food for thought mate yes. Excellent info, thank you.

    I think the PMBA stuff would be a better option for us/him as looking at say Glencoe, i’d end up needing to throw £2000 at a DH bike too 😀

    It’s complex trying to work out what’s best for me, him, both and the family. We’ll get there though. Keep the advice coming guys.

    Premier Icon Tracey
    Full Member

    Abigale has chaperoned a few round on the PMBA events over the years for those whose parents haven’t wanted to do it. Some of them have been very quick on the stages.

    Premier Icon weeksy
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    MAybe you need to hire her out 😀

    How much to drag the boy down at EWS pace ? 😀

    Is it wrong that i’d feel like a fraud doing it and not racing ? Even if coming last..

    Premier Icon mark88
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    what’s the difference between PMBA/EWS/BNES

    PMBA is a race organiser (for the North West) in the same way Southern are.
    BNES is the British series, they tend to pick the best race from each organiser to create a series (5 roundss I think).
    EWS is the world series, alongside the pro race they have EWS 100 and 80 (100% and 80% of pro course) as amateur races. Certain events around the world are nominated as EWS qualifiers to allow people to accrue points to gain EWS entries.

    Southern tend to be the least technical/more beginner friendly, along with trail centre based events. As has been mentioned above, I don’t think it’s necessary to be racing for the sake of racing all the time. Riding steep off piste terrain is what’s needed.

    I do think the communication is lacking from the race organisers. I keep my own list of events as and when they get announced. I offered to help with BNES as their website and comms need sorting but he didn’t take me up on it

    Premier Icon Tracey
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    If she is fit and back on the bike I’m sure she would be up for it

    You will be fine not racing. Quite a few parents do it.

    Premier Icon weeksy
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    Southern tend to be the least technical/more beginner friendly

    I find that somewhat remarkable as i have struggled on the Southerns. I’m happier throwing myself down a BPW red than i am hitting some of the Southern Enduro stuff….

    Premier Icon gallowayboy
    Full Member

    My lad is a good technical rider, and a handy racer, he went to the southern champs this year at Minehaed and struggled – not from a tech point of view but it took him most of the weekend to get used to the alien substance he was riding on…

    Premier Icon intheborders
    Free Member

    You could do worse than come up for a week in the Tweed Valley in the (Late) Spring, so many trails here that there’s more than enough even for a week.

    And rather than worry about racing, just session tracks that are used for racing – Strava will tell you how ‘completive’ you/he is.

    It’ll also help him to learn lines, and where to jump etc.

    And don’t just focus on the Golfie or Inners, for someone from Berkshire even somewhere ‘local’ like Thornielee would be a perfect place to learn how to ride steep & rough tracks.

    Premier Icon weeksy
    Full Member

    In honesty we’re still ending up more at trailcenters than off-piste at the moment.

    Last weekend was Afan/BPW, we’ve got 2 days at 417Flyup this weekend as he’s racing on the Sunday (on a blue… ewwww), then we’ve got a couple of FoD including 2 days of coaching, 1 with Seth and 1 with Katy Curd. Then we’ve also got BPW.

    getting the time and the locations is a struggle at times i admit. Taking the easy option of BPW etc sometimes works better than others. When there i am trying to push onto harder trails that are not really ‘me’ in terms of usual riding.

    The other issue is that the Southern Enduro courses are generally a no-go outside of race days.

    Need to get to FoD and do the off-piste stuff as well as getting hold of Jimmy and getting out with him when time allows.

    tweed valley sounds great and if we can find the time and money i’d be more than happy to take you up on it…. just need to get enough of both 🙂

    Premier Icon ceept
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    What does he ride when not racing? Lots of the “DH kids” round here ride big bouncy bikes the whole time, which IMO looks cool for their pals, but holds them back.
    It is alot easier to build skills messing about on easier trails on a hardtail then transfer the skills to a bouncy bike, than trying to find trails that challenge an enduro bike on every ride.

    Premier Icon weeksy
    Full Member

    What does he ride when not racing?

    He rides the same bike all day every day. ex-Tracy/Abigales Sworks Enduro. Terrain varies but they lean to loamy trailsy stuff with jumps thrown in. The problem of course is location. He can only ride what’s a reasonable distance from us and that’s generally a place called Slanting Hill/cold ash hill. The rest of times is a set of trails they’ve built themselves in the local woods.

    That’s the Slanting sort of stuff.

    However, at the moment it’s tough as they don’t get home from school till 3:40 and it’s dark 25 mins later. So winter is a bit of a no-go. Admittedly we could do some night stuff.

    Even ‘easier trails’ round here, well i’m not sure they much exist. There’s the Ridgeway and there,s well, not much else. Hence why we end up at FoD, 417, BPW etc so much.

    Premier Icon Hob-Nob
    Free Member

    I find that somewhat remarkable as i have struggled on the Southerns. I’m happier throwing myself down a BPW red than i am hitting some of the Southern Enduro stuff

    To be fair, that’s because the reds at BPw are mediocre at best & not technically challenging at all.

    You can go 15 minutes down the road to Barry Sidings & ride stuff a whole other technical level to BPW.

    Riding groomed bike park trails isn’t the answer, it’s steep, natural tech.

    Premier Icon weeksy
    Full Member

    You can go 15 minutes down the road to Barry Sidings & ride stuff a whole other technical level to BPW.

    Riding groomed bike park trails isn’t the answer, it’s steep

    Can’t argue there mate…. but knowing where that is isn’t always the easiest 🙂

    Premier Icon lucky7500
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    Even ‘easier trails’ round here, well i’m not sure they much exist. There’s the Ridgeway and there,s well, not much else. Hence why we end up at FoD, 417, BPW etc so much.

    I think a lot of people who live in or near to ‘better’ riding locations struggle to comprehend this. I grew up in, I think*, pretty much the same area that you are in and most of my family are now in & around Hungerford. I still forget just how limited the natural riding is when I go back to visit. Sure there are some road heavy xc routes to be put together but that’s it. Like you I just go to forest of Dean, Cwmcarn, and BPW now. Used to be Swinley as the closest place before I discovered FoD existed. I live in the Scottish borders / Edinburgh now and it is a totally different world. It can actually be a little frustrating sometimes that similar styles of trail elsewhere are inevitably not as good! I almost certainly wouldn’t have got so in to riding had I stayed in the South.
    If possible try to enter one or more of the Tweedlove, Scottish Enduro, or Dunkeld enduro events. Maybe even the EWS race if it is back in the Tweed Valley.

    * I grew up in Cold Ash – haven’t heard mention of slanting hill / cold ash / red shute hill in years.

    Premier Icon singlespeedstu
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    And don’t just focus on the Golfie or Inners, for someone from Berkshire even somewhere ‘local’ like Thornielee would be a perfect place to learn how to ride steep & rough tracks.

    I’d start at some of the easier trails at Inners and GT if I were you Weeksy.
    Thornielee can be a bit intimidating if you’re not used to that kind of thing.

    I could also show you round some of the lesser used Valley trails if you come up.

    Premier Icon Hob-Nob
    Free Member

    Likewise if you want to be shown some of the decent off piste in FoD, just ask.

    You can have your pick of the ‘known’ trails up to bonkers steep hidden stuff.

    Premier Icon weeksy
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    100% up for that Hob

    Anytime you like matey. We’ve done none tech trails in the off piste stuff but nothing techy. 18/19th?

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