Our roving snapper Ian Lean was on hand at the first proper enduro event of the year, the PMBA Enduro on Graythwaite Estate.
Enduro finally kicked off in the Lakes as the PMBA Enduro Series linked up with the National Enduro for a double-header that also brought with it EWS Qualifying points. There were plenty of heavy hitters here making the most of the chance to get back between the tape.
Photos by Ian Lean.
It seems weird writing the first official race report of 2021 in June, but alas it was good to be back seeing some familiar faces between the tapes at Round 1 of the British National Enduro Series. We couldn’t have asked for a better start with Graythwaite Estate in the Lake District playing host providing a perfect location with views of Lake Windermere from the top.
Ample space for camping and allowing the organisers to deliver a COVID safe venue, not forgetting the 5000 acre private woodland which is where all fun happens. It was a complete sell out and fortunately for the 600 entrants our British summer finally decided to grace us with its presence after what’s been a rather moist May to say the least.
Some would’ve sighed a relief at seeing the sun, last years race apparently was quite the opposite! Since then race organiser Kev and his trail crew had noticeably put in a lot of time to repair existing tracks as well as creating new tracks and routes to keep the riders on their toes.
So some of the in’s n outs of the race, its roughly a 14 mile loop and 3000ft of climbing so as you can imagine there’s some steep long descents once you reach the summit. Riders endured 6 stages of loam, rocks, roots and steep tech sounds idylic doesn’t it? After all this was an EWS qualifier.
No favours were given to riders in the weeks or days leading up to the event, its private so any prior knowledge of the tracks would only be carried over from the previous year so as you can imagine everyone was frothing come Saturday morning hence the sign on queue going from top to bottom of the race site.
Riders from up and down the country including Ireland descended on Graythwaite even some last minute practice before heading out to Europe saw the likes of Greg Callaghan, Bex Barona, ex-Team Wideopenmag rider Kelan Grant with Chainreactioncycles Nukeproof team, Martha Gill and Joe Smith to name a few. The legend Tracy Moseley was also in attendance alongside some of her young XC recruits most notably Trek Factory Racing U23 Harriet Harnden.
Track conditions changed throughout the weekend, Saturday started off quite fresh loamy and after walking the track on Friday everything looked prime initially but after you’ve had 600 riders come down it things can change pretty quickly especially when its been the bloody wettest May on record.
By the end of play Saturday there were quite a few crash hotspots on most of the stages and one which sticks in my mind was on stage 5 where throughout the day moisture and wet dirt pulled onto a rock roll leading into a rock slab straight after became an ice rink catching even some of the best riders out.
Sunday felt a lot different, even early morning it felt warm and the sun was already shining so we knew we were in for a warm one. Some riders chose at sign on to leave camp in group 1 which left at 8:30, Greg and Kelan were in this group, a quick turnaround to catch the ferry back to Ireland meant the pair were after it from the get go setting some pretty rapid times. By midday it was boiling, areas of exposed track were like dust again, happy days.
Bex Barona took the woman’s field by quite some margin with a time of 13:41, the closest rider to her was Chloe Taylor with a time of 14:26 and Tracy Moseley followed with 14:31. Likewise in the Men’s Greg Callaghan blew the field away with a time of sub 12 minutes coming in at 11:56. A shout out has to go to his closest rival which was in the shape of U21 racer Jayden Randall with a time of 12:17, Recce Langhorn with 12:19 and Kelan Grant was 4th with 12:24.
Final note and it has to go to the organisers for creating such a sick weekend of racing in what we can only call challenging times and after a pretty shit year not being able to do any of this! They made everything feel safe and even had to do the unfortunate thing of refusing spectators on stages which is always going to be tough.
Lastly… And anyone that knows me will know my association with Trash Free Trails so to see the organisers offering riders at sign on hemp string as an alternative to the plastic zip ties to keep their number boards on was a bonus to see. I acknowledge riders had the choice which I hear 70% of them went with the hemp string so a massive yes to them.
Biodegradable tape was used on some stages (not a solution but a step forward) and even trialled a Hemp based paper tape down one side of a stage. All of the timing systems, one outlets fridges and coffee machines, marshalls mics, hot water and even washing the marshalls vests were done by Solar Panel. That’s pretty rad right.