This weekend gone saw enduro riders from around the country head to the Lakes for the honour of being called National Enduro Champion.
Both of our team enduro riders were there and we’re happy to report both got themselves onto the podium despite some issues along the way. Young Master Hutchens has penned us a report.
Photos by Trev Worsey.
While Enduro continues to grown in popularity and professionalism the events and titles on offer are slowly expanding. In fact there’s so many events on these days, most selling out to capacity, that you could race almost every weekend in the summer.
It was only a matter of time before a National Championships would be on offer to riders. In steps Downhill National Champs organiser Mike Marsden and PMBA’s Kev Duckworth to put on the show for the 550 riders turning up to the Graithwaite venue in the South Lake District.
The venue is set in a private estate and as you drive in on windy single track roads the pristinely kept estate welcomes you with some immaculate estate buildings and gardens. There’s even a hedge trimmed as a peacock on entering the large event field. This always helps to create a buzz and the rows of campers, tents and VW Transporters (the enduroists must have accessory) make for an impressive site.
The event was to host two races effectively, a Champs and a Non Champs. Whether the format totally worked I’m not sure but it was great to see so many riders on the hill tackling the 10 challenging stages, or as many as the non champs wished to. Maybe a few non-Champs lingering at the back of the top ranked seniors were a little bored of the waiting.
My personal view on the stages was that they could have been better and I believe this was a view of many, particularly riders who have raced here before. While there were moments of tremendous sections the slight taping and gnadgery sections took a lot away from the flow of the trails. This left open some imaginative short cuts. Taping needs to allow line choice and imagination but it has to direct you and keep a narrower channel, especially in such a treasured part of the country. More taping next time guys!
The highlight stages were stages 3, 4 and 9 while most found 7, a freshly cut stage a little wild and the climb (cyclocross-style run) on stage 10 a location for the personal self destruct button to be engaged.
It was a pleasure to race in such a treasured part of the country surrounded by Coniston, Grizedale Forest and the distinctive stone buildings and walls. I definitely had to keep pinching myself while riding around the 40km+ loop taking in the scenery.
With 2000m of climbing it was definitely a challenging day, riders were fading towards the end of the day but digging deep to make the finish. I passed one rider, who entered out of obligation as his mother in law lived locally, as he was hitting the wall. His groan of, ‘I’m not built for this’ said a lot but he persevered!
With racing in full swing on Sunday after the two days of practice it was going to play havoc with the results. Riders across all categories had major issues, with photographer Trev Worsey witnessing a plethora of vocal expletives throughout the day. Punctures and broken bikes were the order of the day. This was a short cry from Saturdays booter of pain. An apparent 50 casualties went down on the final wooden jumps into the fields. Broken bikes, bars and bodies! If you went down then heal up fast.
In the women’s category there was a number of racers chasing the title but it was Tracy Moseley who took the win ahead of Katy Winton and Bex Baraona. The racing amongst the women is well fought but the ‘retired’ Moseley keeps coming back to claim wins. She’s unstoppable.
In the Masters men a flying Martin Brookes took the title, finishing 2nd fastest on the day and piloting his new Whyte 29’er to its first victory.
Senior men was a wild one! There was no end of issue for some riders with Sam Flockhart and Ajay Jones both having major issues, British Enduro Series champion Leigh Johnston puncturing and then having bike issues.
It was a Scottish-heavy 5 man podium and only the Welsh not representing in the top 5. I pulled through a fairly mundane day of riding and a puncture to claim 5th on board my Nukeproof Mega behind of 4th place finisher Pete Williams. Wideopenmag team mate Kelan Grant put in a stormer and finished 3rd, also suffering from punctures. Full time enduroist Joe Connell found some form to take his first National podium in 2nd.
The eventual winner was Hope’s Matt Studdart. After two superb EWS finishes and knowing these hills he was always going to be a hard man to beat. He rode well all day and goes away, for the first time as the National Enduro Champion. He rode well all day and goes away, for the first time as the National Enduro Champion.
We’re excited to see where the event goes next year. Thanks to PMBA for holding the event and providing challenging trails, a relaxed atmosphere and a superb location for the champs.
Props to our boys Chris and Kelan for consistently keeping at the sharp end and for bringing home the results despite tough conditions. You can keep up with all our team news over on our team page on Wideopenmag.co.uk.
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