This is not a race report

The DMR Ex Enduro, Exmoor.

Words by John Oldale / Photos by Roo Fowler

Having never really ventured further west than the Quantocks, I was a little dubious about what may be in store on Exmoor for the DMR Ex Enduro. For some reason I imagined there to be little more than a few bumps with some picturesque fire roads. So with that in mind I headed off for “The Ex”, a new three day race based in the hills around Minehead – organised partly by the locals, partly by the guys at DMR bikes and partly by the guys behind Bristol Bike Fest.

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Arriving into camp where we would be based for the next three days I was somewhat surprised and but excited to see a fair few “bumps” with a lot of elevation to them. I immediately picked up on the relaxed yet excited vibe that was evident throughout the camp. Grabbing a coffee I sat down for the first rider briefing. Sounded like we were getting stuck straight in; 34km of riding with 1250m vertical sounded like a great way to spend the first afternoon.

We loaded the transport vehicles and headed off to gain some vertical and distance from Camp. Less than 45 minutes later I was dropping into Stage 1, a pretty high speed singletrack eye opener of a gem. I immediately realised that my preconceptions of the area were very much misconceptions.

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As the afternoon went on we banged out amazing liaisons and race stages that featured nothing but singletrack. 20km in the organisers Mike and Paul has put on their first show of what was going to be the culinary side of the event: a food stop with homemade cake and sandwiches. It is little things like this that are throughout the event and all add up to keep smiles on everybody’s faces. With full bellies we headed down into Minehead and up onto Selworthy Beacon with its views of the Bristol channel and apparently steep yet flowy trails back down into the camp.

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Rolling into camp we were greeted by organiser Paul and Rory from Upgrade Bikes, who ushered us into the event marquee and thrust pints of locally brewed ale into our hands. The evening went from great to amazing, with beer flowing, lasagne in our bellies the DJ fired up his decks and everyone settled in for the night.

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Day 2 was set to be yet another cracker, with a bit more time on our hands we had 48km and roughly 2000m of vertical to deal with. Stage 1 started out on Dunkery Beacon (the highest point in the South West). By the time we were back down at sea level we had banged out two race stages and approximately 3km of singletrack liaison – not too shabby for the first hill of the day.

Heading back up to Selworthy Beacon we then had a mixed trail down to organiser Mike’s home in Minehead. We were greeted by the first food stop of the day featuring yet more homemade tasty treats. The afternoon featured hero dirt, loam and switchbacks all lovingly built and maintained by the local MTB community, oh and another “compulsory” cake stop.

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Waking up on Day 3 I was beyond excited to get stuck into another locally sourced cooked breakfast followed by 38km of amazing trails. We uplifted back up to Dunkery Beacon, but this time we were dropping the other side of the hill into loamy pine forests. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be for me, on Stage 1 I managed to get my rear derailleur a little too close to a flying rock and in the process destroyed most of the back end of my bike.

Gutted that I couldn’t ride anymore, but still with a smile on my face from the previous two days, I hiked out to hitch a ride back to camp.

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Racing is a funny old thing, you either love it or hate it, personally I hate racing, but there is so much more than 20+ timed stages to The Ex. Never at any point did I feel like I was racing, there was no pressure, just fun trails, great people and amazing food.

Personally I think Mike and Paul have set the standard for this sort of event going forward: Grassroots multiday racing focused around putting a smile on people’s faces, with fantastic attention to detail. Can’t wait to get back to Exmoor in September 2017 for the next DMR Ex enduro.

You can visit the DMR Ex Enduro homepage here.

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