Saturday, 1 June 2013

UK Gravity Enduro Rnd 3, Hamsterley Forest, 25th & 26th May 2013

Hey everyone, it's Angie here, let's get y'all up to speed......

After a wet and cold start across the first two rounds it was great to see that Steve Parr had ordered in the sunshine for Round 3 of the UK Gravity Enduro Series at Hamsterley Forest, County Durham, well done that man!

Hamsterley is our local stomping ground being only 30 minutes away.  It is the first place where I learned how to ride and indeed how to crash a bike..... back in 2005 on the back of an Intense M1, hardcore!  Even now I still love the place, there’s something there for everyone; cross-country trails, downhill track, dirt jumps a-plenty and one of the country's best 4-cross courses.

Steve and I were aiming to get some practice in on Friday afternoon but due to a few mechanical issues with Steve’s bike we never got out, it was actually chucking it down as well…it’s grim up North!  I was actually pretty happy that it was raining though, some of the tracks at Hamsterley get seriously loose in the dry, it’s like riding on marbles.  Fun to ride in general but scary as hell to race on.

(Photo copyright of Doc Ward)

Saturday morning dawned and after a good sleep we got to Hamsterley early to practice the five stages and allow enough rest time before seeding in the afternoon.  We started off by smashing Stage 4, called 'Special K/Brain Freeze', it's pretty trail centre-esque, with it's, dare I say, forged trails but it's also really fun to ride with a steep and sharp up hill sprint in the middle.  I remember last year when T-Mo overtook me up there, like a goddamn express train, she's so powerful! 

Stage 1, the 'Beehives', was next, this one has long been my favourite secret track in the forest.  A secret no longer after a National Enduro event has flung its way down the hill.  It starts off with some mint off camber rooties, awesome in the wet, and then into a pedally tight n'twisty section.  It flows really well and is a total hoot to ride. 

You need to head across the river for Stage 2's aptly named 'Route 666', by this time it was getting on for late morning and the sun definitely had his hat on, ooopht, sweaty!!  Stage 2 starts off being really flippin' pedally alongside a wall before dropping down into the rut-strewn tree cover.  There had been a new wooded loamy section cut in which I was loving however Steve couldn’t get his wide bars through easily and he was getting a bit sweary, hahaha!  Next up was Stage 5, the 'Transmission' route.  (Please don’t ask why we practiced in such a random order!).  The 'Transmission' is the longest, fastest and most Strava’d stage out of them all, it's an all out modern trail centre track.  You should be able to find it easily on YouTube if you fancy a look.

Seeding runs started about 3pm, the girls were up first, it’s always interesting to see where people are going to place. Steve was nervous too and didn’t feel like he was on it, possible down to clipping his bars in practise.  He placed 3rd in Masters though and I was 4th in the Elite so both of us went home feeling pretty happy. 

We got some practice in on Stage 3 before we left, this was the downhill stage taking in the old NPS track, a great track starting off at the top of the 4-cross with a tricky rocky and rooty left hander in the middle.  (Lee here: that ain't the old NPS track, the original old-school NPS track no longer exists due to forestry cutting *sad face*).

(Photo copyright of Doc Ward)

Sunday was another hottie, I'm not complaining at all though, not after all the winter snows we had during the so-called spring!  The girls were off at 9.30am and Steve at 10am so we were up with the larks again.

I would say that my stages went well, a few messed up lines and a couple of stalls but nothing serious until Stage 5, same track as seeding.  I felt like I was going way faster but went into a corner on 'Nitrous' too hot and rode off the back of the berm. Absolutely gutted!!  I still finished 1 second faster than seeding so it was a shame that I crashed with a "what might have been..." looming over in my head.  Steve had good runs but felt like he could have gone a bit quicker on some sections, he changed his tyres between seeding and race run which was probably a bad choice in hindsight!  They may have been grippier but it looked like they slowed him down a tad.  This reflects what I was saying earlier, Hamsterley Forest is an awesome place to ride, yet its looks can be deceptive, you gotta know the type of trails you're gonna be riding to get the best of it all with good tyre choice.

We had to wait a few hours, impatiently I add, for overall times and positions.  Steve did mint with a 5th place, he could have done better as I said but he can't grumble with a category that big.  I came away with 4th in the Elite category and I must say I was flippin' buzzing!  I’m normally down the pack at this level but felt really happy to put in some respectable times this weekend.  Big thanks to Helen Gaskell’s tyre choice advice I reckon!

All in all a mint weekend, can’t wait to ride my bike again.  Summer is here at last .......touch wood!!

Angie xx

No comments:

Post a Comment