Race Report | UKGE Round 3, Hamsterley Forest + Video
For the third round of the UK Gravity Enduro Series it returned to the far Northern English trail centre of Hamsterley Forrest. This was set to be what you would class as a pedally race, with not much of a gradient and low meterage to the summit of the climbs. Fortunately for me I was doing a one-off test of an electric bike (read about this when issue 18 of our magazine is out). Riders knew it was going to be tough on the legs, so the hopes were on for good weather as the weekend approached, who could be ‘King of the hill’ rather than ‘King of the mountain’?
Friday was surprisingly busy in the afternoon, as the rain held back to give an overcast day. The pits were located right in the same area as the finish and all the usual trade stands were getting set up ready for the weekend’s events. Some keyboard warriors had made their objections clear on the UKGE page with regards to a very short 20k loop, so I’m guessing riders hoped for amazing stages to counter the mileage shortfall, as was at Triscombe for the first round. Riders who rode the stages on the Friday either flew around the loop quickly or made the most of the shorter transitions and double-practiced the stages.
The stages themselves really were a mixed bag for the racers, some used before for previous rounds, others with more fresh-cut stuff added. Stage 1 was probably the toughest in the pedal department, with flat sections of rooty loam through the trees and other sections of more gravity-fed tree-lined peaty terrain, this sure was short and fired riders out in quick time ready for the short but steep climb up to stage 2. The 2nd stage was straight, flat, rooty and pedally at the top, into two sections of wooded techy loam separated by some proper bike-park stuff with flowing berms and bomb-holes a plenty. Stage 3 was the riders favorite, fast flowing proper old school DH rooty, rocky single-track with kickers and holes to test all riders skill; great fun. Stage 4 was more techy woodland stuff, but steeper and more off-camber, this too was great fun. Stage 5 (seeding stage) was mostly bike-park stuff, pedally at the top, jumps, berms and bomb-holes, a short fire-road climb then it was faster more flowing bike-park till the final bit of fresh-cut loam to the finish.
Saturday and Sunday stayed mostly dry, with the heavens opening just at night, as the van roof made the wet stuff sound twice as bad as it was. One fantastic result from Saturday’s seeding runs was that of the top Junior CRC-Paypal DH rider Elliot Heap, who managed to get fastest time, maybe a bit of an embarrassment for the top elite boys!
Category winners were, Grand Vets – Paul Barrett, Vets – Tim Ponting, Women – Martha Gill, Masters – Chris Ross, Seniors – Nicki Whiles, Under 18 – Elliot Heap, Elite Women – Helen Gaskell, Elite Male – Sam Shucksmith.
FULL RESULTS – Here
Words| Jim Buchanan
Pics| Doc Ward