Race Report | One Industries Mini Night-Enduro – The Timing’s Right!
Over here in the UK we’re still in the cold depths of winter, it now seems to be dragging on, with no real glimpses yet of warmer times ahead. Over this cold but dry weekend organizer Chris Roberts hosted a Mini-Enduro over at the woodlands site of the Forest of Dean Cycle Centre. This time though it was with a bit of a sting in its tail, being hosted as a night race, practice all day of the three stages, then racing after dark. Coop and I travelled down together in the morning. Coop was feeling fit and excited with his first race entered into the Pro-am category, even though he was not on his own bike. He was borrowing a Marin short-travel test bike I have for a while, whilst I took up another mate’s offer to try out his Specialized Enduro 29 S-works, well why not!
There wasn’t the usual massive turn-out for this event, too many fair weather riders about nowadays! There was however still a good gathering for a small winter event, even bringing some exhibitors with Ez-ups on display. This was Chris’s second Night-Enduro, the first being at a similar time last year hosted by Llandegla, with great success. There were two things being tested for the first time also at this event, one was the use of Chris’s very expensive fork mounted timing chips and the other being an E-bike category, ooh controversial!!
None of the three stages were very far away, due to the geography of the site. The first with a bit of fresh-cut type stuff consisted of lots of loam corners, some real tight and so difficult to get round quickly. This first stage was pretty flat and a good test of that winter training fitness. The second was similar, just mostly easy bike-park type stuff, but definitely the most fun, as it was broken up with some steep stuff and roots galore. The third was all hard-pack terrain and just seemed to go on and on and on and on!! This was great fun to ride in places and a real blast, but so difficult to actually race for five minutes, quickly sapping what little energy I seemed to have taken with me to this event.
We were done practicing by about 2pm, then there was a big wait about till it started dropping dark at around 5.30pm. People didn’t spend much time milling about the pits, as it was just too cold, most choosing to congregate in the warm café for brews and bullshit, where racers talked about winter training and plans for the up-coming season. Also in the café were the non-racers, the weekend riders, as they came and went from trail riding and DH uplifting. It was great to see Bike Park Wales directors Rowan Sorrel and Martin Astley present, even though Rowan never chose to race, he must be one of the fair weather wusses!
Time seemed to be on a go-slow, as we waited for the off, I wasn’t feeling myself, with my lack of energy and struggling to get to grips with my mate’s beautifully trick 29er, I hadn’t been on the big wheels in three months and the bike felt so alien. We eventually headed up, fully wrapped up and got the three stages done back to back as quick as we cold, as did all competitors, pretty much wanting to get the ride in the cold winter night over and done with ASAP. Coop and I rode together (as can be done with the new timing chips) Coop’s so fit now I had to keep asking him to steady up!
My first stage was probably some of the worst riding I think I’ve ever done. I was real tense, panic braking around all the tight turns, due to not knowing what followed them or how long they were, even with great lights – night racing is a real head-fuck, as you get mixed up with where you are and never know what’s coming up. I was exhausted from not being relaxed and breathing inconsistently, I caught the rider in front, only to have Coop catch me, I pulled over, then Coop and the other rider came hauling past me, my head was gone, my brain had transferred its thoughts from positive to negative, it was going pear shaped for me, oh bugger! I put in a better performance, but not great on stages two and three, but the damage was done. Three was a killer, real body and lung draining, and when Coop came in saying how he found it too easy and he hadn’t pushed hard enough I knew he’d done well.
The race was over real fast, literally within two hours, the timing chips were a real success, so that was a great tester for future UKGE races, where Chris does the timing too. Results were out real fast, I was gutted with fifth but Coop had pulled off a third in Pro-am, his first race in that category and he made the podium, there were some real conflicting feelings in the van for the travel home that night! Winners were Karl Woodman (Super Vets) Martha Gill (Women) Sam Jones (Vets) Toby Luce (Senior) Martin Astley (Masters) Mason Pritchard (Juniors) Stephan Jones (Hardtail) Rick Butters (E-bike) Will Soffe (Pro-am)
Big thanks to the Forest of Dean trail centre, Chris and all his crew and the riders who braved the cold.
Pics Doc Ward & Jim Buchanan
Words Jim Buchanan