The 2020 Clans at the Croft enduro will bring a Trophy of Nations-style team enduro to the UK for the first time at Comrie Croft.
If you like the idea of the Trophy of Nations and racing in a team but couldn’t get the week off work to head to Liguria to race, then the Muckmedden Clans at the Croft enduro might just be the race for you.
Pete had a chat with Muckmedden’s main man Aaron Gray to find out more.
Photos by Raymond Leinster.
How did Clans at the Croft come about?
It was last September, and we were still figuring out what events to run in 2020. I’d spent a bit of time on a couple of new events but had to put them on the back burner for various reasons, so I’d just recently started chatting with Comrie Croft about hosting an event there in 2020.
Tom Simpson from Comrie Croft Bikes asked me if I’d seen the footage from the EWS Trophy of Nations. He was raving about the event’s new team format and wondered if I’d be interested in doing something similar at The Croft.
After watching the Trophy of Nations highlights, I was totally sold on doing a Muckmedden version. The new team format required a level of race strategy from the teams and the riders seemed to love working as a unit. Yup, I’m in.
How did you settle on Comrie Croft as a location?
Comrie Croft is very accessible being just over an hour from Scotland’s major cities, so it’s easy for lots of people to get to. We held Cream o’ the Croft festival there, which was always a brilliant weekend, and I believe a lot of the success of the event was down to the venue.
The Croft trails have been voted the best in Scotland several times and on top of that there’s an eco-friendly campsite, award-winning facilities and loads of other accommodation options too. When you add all these factors together, I don’t think there’s a better venue in Scotland for such an event.
What can riders expect from this event compared the usual Muckmedden enduro offering?
Like all our events, Clans at the Croft is all about having fun on bikes, first and foremost. The stages will be challenging, but not soul-destroying like many other enduros these days. There will be a good mix of Blue, Red, Black and all-natural singletrack with an emphasis on good flow and minimal pedalling. Riders will finish the day with two runs on the Dual Slalom stage, which should be an unbelievable buzz, especially when the Clans race Head2Head.
Apart from racing, everyone can expect the usual family friendly atmosphere, food trucks serving up top-quality food and a pop-up, licensed bar. In the evenings we’ll stick on some tunes and have a bit of a party in the big tent, so hopefully riders will round up their friends and family and come and make a weekend of it.
What are the logistics and challenges of setting three riders off at once as a race organiser?
Clans is the first UK enduro to run a team category, so I spoke to Chris Ball (from EWS) to see if there were any issues at The Trophy of Nations he hadn’t anticipated. He passed on a few nuggets of useful information but, on the whole, it was all very positive and the format worked really well.
Safety is always my main concern to be honest, and with teammates potentially riding closer together than in a regular enduro, we just have to make sure riders keep a sensible distance from their teammates to reduce the potential for collision. There’s always the chance the red mist comes down in the heat of the moment, so we just have to make sure they’re properly briefed prior to the race.
Timing was the other thing I wanted to check, to make sure that Durty Events who are doing the chip-timing could accommodate the team format, but thankfully that was all fine too so it’s all systems go.
As a rider, how will stages need to be tackled differently to a normal enduro?
Riders can either enter as a Solo, or as a Clan of three. The format for Solos will be the same as our other Enduros and there will be a 20 second gap left between each rider starting a stage.
Each Clan has a minute for all team members to leave the start line of each stage. This means Clan riders can have up to twenty seconds gap between team mates if they want, but around a six seconds gap was deemed to be ideal at the Trophy of Nations as riders were close enough to follow their faster team mates, but they had enough time to react if it all went pair-shaped.
All Clan members must complete each stage for the Clan result to count. If any Clan member is forced to retire due to a mechanical or injury, the Clan and the injured/retired rider gets a DNF. The remaining members of the Clan can continue to race and get results in the Solo category.
Full race rules and info are available on the Clans at the Croft webpage here.
Are there plans to expand the event in 2021?
If people enjoy the team format as much as I hope they will, we might develop it into the UK Team Enduro Championships… or something like that. Probably best to see how this year goes first.
We’ve never actually held the same event line-up twice, so there’s every chance we’ll change it up again next year. But who’s to say we won’t run the team format at other enduros? In other words, I’ve no idea what’s going on.
Favourite moments so far?
It has to be filming the promo video a couple of weeks back. The weather was completely unsuitable for promoting a springtime event, with heavy snow and high winds, but lots of riders came from all over Scotland to hang out in a blizzard with us. It was totally mad, in a good way. Top bunch of people.
Not yet, touch wood.
Anyone to thank?
Too many people to thank. Thanks to Chris Ball from Enduro World series for letting me tap into his previous experience and steal his idea. Thanks to everyone who turned up to the video filming day and risked hypothermia.
Thanks to all the brands who are supporting our events again this year, particularly Sixth Element our title sponsor. Thanks to the awesome Muckmarshals for giving up their spare time to make our events happen each time. I could go on but I should probably stop now.