Mountain Biking UK - - ARD ROCK -

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!

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