Bloody hell it's windy down in t'yorkshire!. Des and I headed down to Reeth in the Arkengarthdale valley on Saturday morning, planning to practice on the Saturday, and ride the inaugural 'Ard rock enduro on the Sunday.
We never really got riding til after 2 o'clock on the Saturday, as we had tents and stuff to set up, and we were in no rush to be honest. So we set off up a steep road climb and had a look at stage 4 on the way up, which would be the final stage on the day. It didn't look too hard, so we decided against riding it, to save having to ride back up the climb again, and wanting to save energy for the enduro itself.
So we carried on along fremington edge to the start of stage 1. What an absolute joy!, fast, grassy, rocky and steep, brilliant, the kind of riding both Des and I enjoy. After that, we pushed up the steep path back up onto the escarpment and rode onto the start of stage 2. This was similar to stage 1, but I liked it even more. There were two sections which were in steep, fast, but really rocky gullies, with high bankings on either side, giving a Star Wars type sensation of speed, and then more steep, loose, shaley chutes to keep us on our toes.
There was a really nice rocky bridleway descent straight from the bottom of stage 2, which I would personally have added into the the stage, but the organisers thought better, I'm sure there was a good reason, probably something to do with the archaic English access laws.
To access stage 3, there was a bit of a monster climb, first on road, then on dusty track, all the way to the top of the old mine workings on top of high Reeth moor. The wind up there was hellish, and was exacerbated by the start position, on top of an old slag heap. A points we were standing holding onto our bikes, trying to stop them blowing away, and only the helmet straps stopped them blowing clean off our heads!.
This was a longer stage, a bit more pedally, but still a hoot!, I didn't think I'd done too well on this stage, but my time wasn't bad.then we had this climb to the final stage! You can see the road section, then the track slicing its way up to the top right of the picture below.
Again, it wasn't too bad, and by the time we were back up on fremington edge, I was starting to feel quite strong, maybe the cheese n ham salad roll and bananas were working on me. There was a final windy hill top ride along the edge, before hitting the last stage.
The course here went down through farmers fields, battering through downed sections of dry stane dykes which could nip the unwary tyre (more on that later!) and some really steep, off camber grassy sections, interspersed with massive rocks and loose shale. Brilliant.
I got to the bottom, and looked back up for my ulster buddy, only to see him walking sullenly down the trail. Bugger. Puncture. Shame, as we were both on decent times up until then, but that's the danger of enduro racing, any mechanical at all will mess up your section, and ultimately your total combined time.
I ended up finishing 134th out of about 300 riders, pretty happy with that, way better than the last enduro at Glentress. But with a bit more training, and a bit less 'enjoyment' on the Saturday night, I can't help feeling that a top 100 finish would have been achieved.
Still, a great weekend, topped off with a good curry in Penrith, and completely finished to perfection when I got home and my lovely mother in law had left a couple of bottles of Arran blonde for me. Woohoo!.
|Top of stage 2|
|Looking down stage 2|
|This enduro lark is ace!|
|Robin would have loved it...|
|Nice chilled vibe|
|Dales bike centre - HQ for the weekend|