Race Report: UK Enduro Round 1, Crychan Forest.

Wideopenmag’s roving enduro racer Ollie Hooper was off to Mid Wales to sample what the UK Enduro Series had to offer in it’s opening year. Crychan Forest might not be a name many know, but that may well change.

Ollie came away with a solid 4th place in the Senior category, his first year rolling with the big dogs. A two day racing format may have tested the legs, but the sun, dust and natural trails saw our man consistent throughout. Here’s how he got on.

Ollie Hooper UK Enduro Series Crychan Forest Dan Wyre Photography
Crychan Forest. A great change to the trail centre venues that have become the norm of late, all out gnar, all weekend, awesome fun!’ Ben Skinner-Watts on course. Photo by Dan Wyre.

With so many enduro series appearing around the UK, the scene couldn’t be better. At the end of last year we had the announcement of two new national enduro series. For some people this made it a little confusing deciding what series to do but in my eyes it couldn’t be any better.

Ollie Hooper UK Enduro Series Crychan Forest Dan Wyre Photography
Many riders were struggling with the steep section on stage 3, not sure if this guy held it or not but top job if you did! Photo by Dan Wyre.

Although we now have two different series they have both managed to find their place in the mountain bike community. The different formats of racing make enduro appeal to a greater number of riders…inviting riders who want a laugh with their mates with a chilled out atmosphere and a series with a little bit more of a competitive edge but still keeping the spirit of ‘enduro’.

So the first instalment in the hectic enduro calendar saw me travel to the other side of the Brecon Beacons to a small forest named Crychan. For once in a very long time the weekend was dry and the week leading up had been dry so I knew the trails were going to perfect… and boy did the UK Enduro team treat us!! The trails were super old school…steep, tech and sniper roots taking out myself and many other riders.

Ollie Hooper UK Enduro Series Crychan Forest Dan Wyre Photography
‘Really enjoyed racing at the Crychan this weekend. A good weekend with only a few small mistakes and took 1st in senior – looking forward to the next round!’ Ben Jones. Photo by Dan Wyre.

Neil has bought a new format to the enduro race scene, being able to pedal around without having to worry about being at a stage at a certain time or being in the right category makes it so relaxed you forget that you are racing! Riding up the climbs talking to guys who are doing their first ever mountain bike race and then seeing guys who I know from racing adds to the chilled vibe.

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So, Saturday kicked off with practice in the morning on four of the 5 stages the UK Enduro team freshly cut in for the race. Saturday afternoon quickly came along and having to race the four stages we had practiced was really strange as I am used to the format of practice on Saturday and racing Sunday. This definitely tested the fitness of most riders having to complete 8 stages in one day!

Ollie Hooper UK Enduro Series Crychan Forest Dan Wyre Photography
The woods were looking prime all weekend, the mossy ground was quickly turned to loam! Photo by Dan Wyre.

After day one I was super stoked to be 4th in Senior, considering its my first year moving up into the big boys class!

The format for Sunday consisted of racing a full 5 stages and repeating one. We had to complete the full 6 stages between 10 and 4:30 giving us plenty of time to chill between runs and have at least an hour for lunch! This gave people a chance to see how other riding buddies were doing and rest.

After racing the 6 stages my legs definitely felt it having to dodge trees and pedal hard all day. It was all worth it though, to stay in 4th place was a decent result for me. Talking to riders and having a print out of your results as soon as you finish was fun comparing times, seeing what stages you had done better than your mates.

Having a chat with a few riders it seemed like everyone had an awesome time riding with their mates in a chilled out atmosphere riding some rad trails! Everyone really enjoyed the format.This is how mountain bike racing should be.