With Christo away in America for the Enduro World Series, Hutch was flying the Team Wideopenmag flag at the 2019 Naughty Northumbrian.
The Naughty Northumbrian has grown year on year and added a gravel event to the enduro that the event was founded on. The weather held and six predominantly downhill stages greeted riders.
Team Wideopenmag’s Chris Hutchens was on hand to fly the flag and bring us this report.
Photos by Lewis Gregory.
The Naughty Northumbrian is now in its 3rd year almost growing year on year. The event moved sites this year to a large field in Clennell, a hamlet some twenty minutes drive from Rothbury. It’s a remote location, which really adds to the event. You get away from civilisation, leaving social media and the constant buzz of a phone behind. True bliss.
Around the racing that this year consisted of a gravel race on the Saturday and the enduro race was entertainment and plenty for the family too. I even saw a Yoga session going on at 9am on the Saturday, which I sadly missed out on.
On arrival I grabbed a beer and enjoyed the evening’s music under the huge marque that dominated the expansive field while catching up with a few familiar faces. The lack of signal (it really is remote) meant I couldn’t find Liam Moynihan who I’d intended to park up with but I ended parked next to Andrew Weeding and Scott Wooley who I got to know over the weekend.
The friendliness of the mountain biking community is something grateful for. It’s one of the great aspects of the sport. This would be my base for the weekend and I’d need a good base, as Saturday would be a big day out requiring significant recovery time.
More stages would challenge riders this year and many of the stages ensured riders’ limits were pushed. They were almost a perfect mix of trails in my opinion. Maybe a little more pedalling and endurance in the stages would pull the stages away from the full-on DH stage side of the scale but that’s only because I like a good mid stage sprint these days.
The six stages were clustered into two distinct areas separated by a relatively long transfer. With this tour of the idyllic national park the loop approached 40km and 1300m of elevation. Stages 2 and 3 were found in close proximity to one another while the other stages were around Kinlandlee, a past Northern Downhill venue.
I could go on about how amazing each stage was but I’ll let those who were there remain smug that they were and those who weren’t to find out for themselves. I have to however give a big shout out to the team who build stage 5. It was one of the most unique, if not hugely intimidating stages I’ve ridden in a long time. The top was flat out, some jumps and sensational turns. Next a steep section took you down onto a huge scree face.
Riding on these baby heads was intimidating but with a little momentum you could skip over the rocks and enjoy a truly fantastic stage. While it wasn’t to everyone’s liking it was different and added some serious spice to the race. I guess this is why they call it the Naughty Northumbrian.
With 7 hours in the saddle on Saturday scoping out the trails the evening was a relax affair watching films including a hilarious Hazzard Racing video as well as the new Vision film. Both are well worth seeing. For Ferg’s river entrance and for Vero’s, as she would say, ‘sick’, riding.
A field of heavy legs and sun burnt necks would rise to another blue bird, mid 20s day. I was thankful for the weather to be on side this race, too many have been cancelled due to adverse weather conditions this year. While there was 6 stages over the weekend sadly one stage, stage 3, was cancelled after a rider sustained a broken leg. Great call from the event organisers ensuring that everyone pressed on and got route the loop while maintaining medical cover. Not an easy task in such terrain.
The ladies’ race would be won by Louise Ferguson who held off Jessie-May Morgan in second by over a minute. This was despite a crash on an early stage. Gabriele Gelgotaite would settle for 3rd. There was a healthy female field with 20 riders taking to the start line on Sunday. It was a challenging route with hard stages. Did this put a few off in the end I wander? I would encourage anyone to get on the entry list for 2020 though. The stages, while some are intimidating, are all superbly-built and ride-able with the right approach.
In the Masters rider Fergus Lamb would clinch victory. His do or die approach makes him a constant threat and this weekend he kept it clean and very fast to land in front of Jack Reading. He’s been having a great World Cup season this year so it’s no surprise to see him up there. It would be Lachlan Blair in seniors who took home 3rd fastest of the day and a category win. Notable mention has to go to Corie Watson. He returned to race after a few years kayaking and doing his own thing taking 2nd in Senior with a storming result. Impressive.
I had a great day out finishing 5th in Masters and 7th overall. While I felt frustrated at times due to minor mistakes and losing speed I was happy to be amongst the fastest riders and have a class time on the bike.