Wow, what a beautiful place the Yorkshire Dales is, and the course definitely made the most of the local geology and topography! It was my first experience of racing enduro, and the event itself was brilliant. It had a festival-like atmosphere, with food stalls, live music and communal tepees where you could hang out with mates and chill in the evenings after riding. It was great to see over 5,000 people at a mountain bike race too!
Out on the course, the stages were made up of really fun trails that mostly flowed their way naturally down old quarries and stone-bordered fields. Sometimes they proved to be pretty challenging when ridden blind and at race pace! They weren’t all pure downhill stages, as I was expecting. Although I train pretty hard for downhill, I did struggle on some of the pedalling sections – I’d overtake riders on the DH parts, then they’d come back past me!
There were six stages in total, ranging from two to five minutes in length, which wasn’t a problem. It was the liaisons that proved to be my downfall, especially some of the climbs, which were very long and ferociously steep! All in, the 45km course took me about six hours to complete.
Racing wise, I gave it my all on the first stage and came out at the end tasting blood. When I saw the climb going up to stage two I was worried I wouldn’t make it to the top! On the second stage I snapped my chainring on one of Yorkshire’s finest rocks, which meant I had to scramble back to the pits to get it fixed. I had to do an extra hour of riding and faffing to get back in the race, and drag myself all the way up to the start of stage three on my own.
From there on, I had to pace myself to make it through the event. I even considered pulling out at times, until I met up with a guy I knew, which gave me the motivation to continue. When I finally got back to the race village, I was a wreck. I received my results on the way in, and can only describe them as poor, compared to my usual standards!
It was the liaisons that were my downfall, especially the ferociously long and steep climbs
I ended up 37th overall, which shows how rubbish my fitness is at the moment.
If I’ve learned one thing from the ’Ard Rock, it’s how much I enjoy uplifted downhill races, without the stress of having to ride to the top! It was an awesome weekend and an amazing event though, and I’d definitely recommend people get themselves over to it. Just make sure you do the training beforehand!