Lyrca, Baggys, Descents, Hills and a Dark Horse...
This weekend saw the third round of the UK Gravity Enduro at Hamsterley Forest in Durham. SCOTT Enduro riders Calum Dew and Helen Gaskell took part. After good results at Innerleithen last month they were hoping to place well for going into round 4. Stu Wilcox, one of the SCOTT cross country riders also turned up to put in a staggering performace placing first in the under 18's. As well as this, the Mountain Trax - Vauxhall Motors Cycling Team had the Southern Cross Country Championships at Crow Hill, Ringwood on the 19th of May. Here's race reports from the riders, first up is Calum with his Hamsterley Race.
Hamsterley UK Gravity Enduro - 25th, 26th May 2013.
Round 3 of the UK Gravity Enduro Series seemed to come around fast, with my final year Uni exams FINALLY came to a close in the week before the race. I found it really difficult juggling training with revision whilst my exams were on and unfortunately my training and bike time ended up suffering as a result. It always seems to be the case every year with exams falling around May/June, but I’m so excited now that it’s over for good and I can return to giving the race season my 100% focus! I’ve ended up with a degree in Biology too so the suffering was worthwhile ha ha, well happy.
I arrived at Hamsterley on Thursday afternoon to give myself a chance to get back up to speed on the bike. I took the opportunity to ride and do some timing on a classic ‘trail-centre style’ downhill section that is part of the black route up at Hamsterley Forest. I did some runs on SPDs and some on flat pedals and amazingly found that I was consistently faster on flats by 5 seconds over a 2 minute section! With the added news that a flat pedal rider had finished in the top 5 at the World Enduro Series the weekend before I made the decision to run flat pedals for the race and was really enjoying using them.
Cal focused on track
I divided my practice time between Friday and Saturday, and kept loaded-up on TORQ energy gels, powder and recovery to be sure that I eased my legs back into the race environment and kept plenty of energy left in the tank for Sunday’s race. The weather was awful on Friday morning so stayed wrapped up in my SCOTT winter jacket in the van and delayed any practice until the afternoon when the wind and rain had calmed down. The stages were wet but running well. Stages 1 and 2 were flat, rooty and pedally and really hard work to keep the bike rolling at speed. Stage 3 was classic technical downhill and great fun, and stages 4 and 5 were classic trail-centre; fast-flowing but pedally . So, credit to the event organisers because as usual there was a real mix of all sorts of trail type. I was struggling to get up to speed on the Friday afternoon, but I got back to my van and after a well needed bike wash I got an early night, hoping for some better weather and to get up to speed the next day!
Saturday morning brought blue skies and sunshine and made for a great day of practice with the stages drying out. I chose to run the Schwalbe Nobby Nics over the Hans Dampfs I’d been using on Friday, as I felt the faster rolling speed of the Nobby Nics would be more beneficial in the drying conditions. Unfortunately throughout Saturday I was still struggling to find my flow and get into my riding. I tried different combinations of suspension settings and firmed the forks and shock up to handle the flat pedally stages better. The remote fork and shock lock-out on my SCOTT Genius 650b really came into its own on the flat and uphill sprint sections as I could quickly either firm-up or lock the bike out at the push of a button and equally unlock it again when the trail got rougher, such a great system and feature of the Genius. Unfortunately I crashed in qualifying on Saturday afternoon, near the top of the stage. I pushed too hard in a corner that had got really loose after drying out and I went down. The crash cost me dearly by the time I had got back into my run, with qualifying times being fairly tight and counting towards the overall time for the weekend, so unfortunately it meant my race started on the back foot. I tried to put my disappointment behind me and got some good rest in preparation for Sunday.
Cal Looking fast
Unfortunately Sunday’s racing was a similar story for me! I struggled to get a rhythm going all day. I had felt strong and fast on the top section of stage 3, but halfway down the course tape was broken, presumably by a rider from the category before Elite, and as a result I went straight on in a corner and down the wrong track. This was mega frustrating and I had to run back up the hill with my bike to re-join the stage, which cost me a lot of time. After talking to some of the other Elite riders at the bottom of the stage it seemed that a few had made the same mistake as I had, which is a shame because it’s difficult to race competitively when the course marking isn’t clear. But the mistake was my own and something I just had to take on the chin! I ended up placing 17th in Elite, so overall a frustrating weekends racing due to some costly errors and less than ideal preparation. But it’s unlikely that any rider will have a perfect 5 rounds so I’ll be taking this round as my bad one! It was great to see Helen Gaskell taking 2nd in Elite women for SCOTT on-board her Genius 650b, nice one Hels!
There’s a big break in the UK Enduro calendar from now until August, so I’ll be taking the opportunity to head out to Europe to ride and race over summer and I can’t wait! Huge thanks to SCOTT for producing a bike and kit that is second to none for Enduro riding and racing, and as always a massive thanks to the North West Mountainbike Centre for having the bike running sweet and mechanical-free all weekend.
Thanks to Ben Pinnick for this Photo of Calum.
Here’s Helen with her race report for the weekend. This being close to home for Helen she wanted to do well and put in a good performance ready for round 4. Here’s Helens report from Saturday and Sunday.
What a weekend at round 3 of the UK enduro series, the sun was shining, the trails were dusty and I got to race my bike. I was really excited for this race; I guess it's my local track so the pressure was on. It had been a month since the last round at Inners which I crashed out on stage 1 injuring my shoulder. That month had gone very quick, my shoulder has improved so I was able to race with a bit of strapping to help it.
Friday was practice day , the weather wasn't great at all , so I rode stages 1, 2 and 5 only, the conditions were so muddy I didn't think it would ever dry up for race day. How wrong could I have been? Saturday morning the sun was shining and the birds were tweeting. The whole loop was only 12miles so I did a full lap Saturday morning before seeding to check out all the sneaky lines that always appear. By the time seeding came around for me at 1530hrs the trails were drying out so much.For me stages 1 and 2 were going to be the hardest, quite tricky, rooty and pedally, lines had appeared on stage 1 which made it a lot faster especially in the dry. I was having so much fun riding, but had to stop and a get some rest and energy drinks inside me before seeding on stage 5.
The seeding stage is lots of fun, fast berms, jumps, loose corners and a few sprints to get the legs burning; I knew I would have to work hard on this stage to be anywhere near to Tracy Moseley who had just returned from winning the First Enduro world round in Italy. I ended up putting a good run in seeding 3rd place, on the same second as Sarah Newman in 2nd and Tracy was in first place 7 seconds ahead of me. I was all fired up and ready for race day after that.
Helen Flying over obstacles
So Sunday morning came around and I woke up very excited and a little nervous as you always do on race day. The weather was perfect again; we left the pits at 0930hrs to get to the start for 10.00hrs, my first run of the day. For the first stage it went ok , I got most off my lines so it was a lot better start to the day than Inners. They have changed the order now so fastest goes first so I had no idea how Tracy was doing. I carried on having fun all day and put some good stages together. Stage 2 was the hard one for me, very pedally at the start and tight and tricky at the bottom, Sarah had a crash so I could see her near the end of the stage so I had gained some time there.
By 1230hrs we had finished, just 3 hours out there, it was time to wait for the results to pop up. Tracy had taken the win, I got 2nd spot and Sarah Newman placed 3rd, my friend and local girl Angela Coates had a great result taking 4th spot just 0.8 seconds ahead of Mojo rider Aimee Dix. I had lost my time on stages 1 and 2, over 10seconds Tracy managed to make on those stages, no excuses I need to get my pedalling legs on for the next races. Overall it was a good result for me. I'm just going to build on this race and get riding and training on my Scott Genius 650b even more. I’m hoping to get ready for a Enduro world cup later on in the season so it's exciting times ahead.
I can't wait for more sun, riding dusty trails and racing more Enduro’s, big thank you to Scott for supporting me and Steve Parr and all his crew for a great race weekend.
See you out there
A last minute entry for the under 18’s Stu Wilcox a SCOTT cross country rider turned up to take part in the enduro. After a great race he took the win, and is now geared up to take part in more Enduro’s in the future and continue taking part in cross country.
Round 3 of the UK Gravity Enduro Series brought sunny skies and dusty trails, and with a mixture of tight, technical tracks and flat out trail centre sections it looked set to be a great weekend. Being my first UK Gravity Enduro I was unsure of what to expect, but on arrival it became clear that the friendly atmosphere that I've experienced at other enduros was certainly present here.
Saturday morning brought a quick lap of the course, which gave me my first taste of the sort of terrain we'd be racing on over the weekend. Stage 1 brought with it the first incident of the day, a badly misjudged attempt to land in a man sized hole leading to the inevitable over the bars. Aside from that, the rest of the stage brought a series of long, off camber straights and tight, twisty and flat sections with a small climb thrown in for good measure. Stage 2 was much of the same once the pedally top section had been negotiated, and even a snapped chain didn't dampen my spirits when starting the transition to stage 3. This was a slightly different affair, with a much more downhill orientated feel and some steeper, rougher sections to contend with. This stage was definitely my favourite of the weekend, a feeling that seemed to be shared by quite a few of the riders. Stages 4 and 5 were man made trail centre type stages, and combined a mixture of fast berms and rocky sections with a fair amount of pedalling. Being predominantly a cross country racer I knew these stages would probably suit me the most.
That afternoon brought seeding runs which were held on stage 5, a fast and swoopy trail that spat you out into the finish arena through a series of very loose corners. Having a grand total of zero series points I was the final U18 down, but after overtaking one rider and with a decent run I seeded first, with a healthy gap of around 12 seconds.
Sunday was race day, and after an early start I set off at 9:30 with the juniors and elite women to head up to stage 1. A small crash on stage 1 wasn't the ideal start to the race, but two solid runs on stages 2 and 3 left me feeling confident that I could compete for the win with two stages remaining. However, a dropped chain on stage 4 panicked me a little bit, which meant a good run on the final stage was even more important. Fortunately stage 5 went to plan, and I crossed the line hoping I'd done enough to get a good result.
A long wait for the podiums ensued, and I was happy and a little bit surprised to see I'd won the U18 category by almost a minute and placed around 20th overall. As cross country is my main focus this year I didn't really have any expectations for the race, but I came away having really enjoyed myself and definitely keen to try my hand at more enduros in the future.
A big thanks as always to Scott UK for their continued support, as well as to Steve Parr and the other organisers for putting on a great weekend!
Stu on the top step
The Mountain Trax – Vauxhall Motors Cycling Team took part in the Southern Cross Country Championships last weekend on the 19th of May. Here’s Team Rider Ben Thomas with how the race went and upcoming races and events for them in the next few weeks.
Southern Cross Country Championships - 19th May - Crow Hill
Today the Mountain Trax – Vauxhall Motors Cycling Team continued to illustrate how versatile their abilities are adapting from a 9 day stage race two weeks ago, a 12 hour solo race last weekend, and a 1 hour 30 cross country race this weekend. Its all part of the busy schedule the Team has set itself and the riders were keen to put on a good showing at today’s Southern Championships. The Crow Hill course was slippery after recent wet weather which left tricky conditions for the race, riders would have to be careful at race pace. Ben and Tim opted to run their Schwalbe Rocket Ron tyres which offered a little extra bite than their standard dry weather setup. From the gun Ben was in the thick of the action putting himself into the lead trio which gapped the rest of the field early on. Ade Lansley, Mike Cotty and Ben took it in turns to set the pace through the muddy trails. Even the leaders had several moments during the race where they lost control with Ben hitting the deck early on and cutting his knee, it wasn’t enough though to stop him fromquickly rejoining the other riders.
Ben Fighting for the lead
A little further behind Tim was setting a solid pace but was unable keep the pace of the top guys as he continues to recover from the fatigue caused by his victory at the 12 Hour Solo Championship just a week ago. Both riders opted to run their full suspension bikes with the Fox Suspension units soaking up the roots and making it easier through the rougher trails. On lap 3 Ade Lansley punctured which put him out of the race. Ben and Mike continued to set a good pace but a fast charging former Junior National Champion Alex Paton was closing the gap. Neither of the leaders could gap each other and it looked like it would come down to a last lap battle behind these 2. However on the last lap Alex latched onto the back of Mike and Ben at the front of the race, he then dived passed into the last bit of singletrack opening a few seconds gap. Ben flew up the final climb into the arena with Alex in sight but the finish line came a little too soon and Ben finished second just a bike’s length behind. Ben had this to say after the race, “I was disappointed to miss out on the win today by just a second, it was a tough battle out there and harder work than I expected. I’m still missing a bit of cross country form, I’ve turned into a bit of a diesel after Joberg2c! The course didn’t make it easy to get a gap either, I tried a few times on laps 3 and 4 but each time you pushed yourself it forced you into a mistake on the slippery course. Second place isn’t too bad though! After today’s result I’ve been on the podium at the Southern Championships every year for the last 5 years; in 2011 I took the title, not a bad record to have.” The Mountain Trax – Vauxhall Motors Cycling Team now have a weekend off from racing but both riders will be busy training hard for their next events. In two weekends time Ben will race the third round of the British XC Series and Tim will be in Austria racing the 3 day Alpen Tour.
Thanks to Vermont Images for Providing the Photos
Some Great Results for the Scott Teams over the past few weeks. With Plenty of races coming up including Mountain Mayhem next month the season's kicking into full flow. Have a great weekend.
Thanks to Doc Ward for the images of Cal and Helen.
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