At the risk of repeating myself after the first round- that was a battle. Read more…
All posts tagged Gravity Enduro
What a slog that was!
I have been cleaning kit and bikes all day after a really challenging first round of the 2013 UK Gravity Enduro. Read more…
Well i have been a bit slack on the blog recently but i managed to win the overall title at the 2012 UK Gravity Enduro series
I headed down to South Wales for the final round of the 2011 Gravity Enduro series at Afan Forest. I have been to Afan a few times now, for a couple of Dirt photoshoots and a ride earlier in the year.
I am no stranger to the wall at Afan, which i did a timed run down for a Dirt article a few years back. I have had people over the years refer back to that article and how they are still trying to beat my time. All i remember was how hard physically it was to put in a full run down the wall. It is good fun, but you don’t realise how many flat little sprints there are until you are against the clock.
So coming into the weekend i had a good idea that it was going to be a physical weekend, add to that the big loop to get to all 5 stages and it was definitely a challenge.
I will get the excuses out of the way now
I didn’t have the greatest of weekend’s racing. I put it down to the effect of being very busy with work (running awesome jumps and drops courses) and my lack of preparation in the form of a very messy stag do weekend and wedding of my old buddy Jonny Cheetham.
The stages favoured the fitter guys with only stage 2 having any serious technical parts.
Stage 2 was a new cut dh track that was like something out of the late 90s Dragon DH era. It was going to be where the race was won or lost. The other 4 stages were about riding fast and absolutely blowing your lungs out.
So stage 2 was a disaster for me and probably cost me the chance to win the overall Elite category for the season. I felt confident that i could put some time into everyone on it, except maybe Gary Forest who is really good DHer. So i set off on a mission. There was a quick sprint and tuck down a fast fire road and then you dropped in to the mother of all muddy, rooty bastard downhill tracks you have ever seen.
Within 20 seconds of hitting the hard stuff i had caught my man in front. A shouted rider and he kind of kept on going, not too keen to pull over and let me by. He dropped into a really steep, hard switch back and crashed right in the middle of the track. By then i was committed and had no where to go other than into him and his bike. I went flying. i could see a hose hanging from my bars, all i hoped was that it was from my dropper post and not a brake. So i jumped back on and it quickly became apparent that it was my front brake.
That was that, i struggled through the last 3 stages having to brake really early. In the pouring rain.
It was a disappointing end to an otherwise great year. I finished 5th Elite for the day and 2nd overall for the year. Well done to Gary Forest who took the overall.
Big thanks to everyone who has helped me out this year with some amazing kit.
Oneplanet Adventure- coffee and cake
Santa Cruz- Blur LTc, most fun bike ever and looks amazing
Fox Racing- nicest technical trail riding kit
Fox Racing Shox- 36s are the best forks known to mankind
Mojo- got the ‘know how’
Hope- lovely green brakes
Renthal- completes my wannabe mx fantasy
Continental- super secret tyre compound that i attribute both my wins to
Syncros rims- for putting up with my clumsy riding all year
Calypso Sports Anywhere- for making me a star in the app store
Photo- Barbara Sztyk
Round 4 of the UK Gravity Enduro took place at Eastridge last weekend.
Luckily for me it is my local woods, where i do a lot of my riding so all eyes were on me to take the win on home turf.
Fortunately i was able to do it and not let the pressure get to me! It was nice to be back racing at Eastridge, i love the trails. I have also got a lot of good memories, especially winning the Junior National Championships back in 1999, 12 years ago!
If you haven’t ridden Eastridge, get yourself up there, it is well worth a look. The trails are a mix of rocky and loamy singletrack. There are loads of old DH tracks dotted around the woods and some of my favourite singletrack in the world.
Stage 1 was a mix of fast technical/ rocky singletrack, wide open drifty turns and dust so deep it was like riding in sand.
I had a pretty solid first stage and felt like i was up to pace from the get go. It can be hard to judge if you are pushing hard enough though. But sometimes you had to be cautious in the really dusty parts because a lot of the turns had blown out since you had practised them.
There seemed to be a lot of people really enjoying themselves and i heard lots of compliments on the riding, the credit goes to Alex Langley and the trail partnership crew that have puts loads of hours into trail building this last year. I have lost count of the amount of days those guys put into maintenance and building when they could have been riding.
All in all it was a mega enjoyable weekend of riding and racing and it just reinforces my enthusiasm in the Gravity Enduro scene. There really isn’t a more laid back type of racing. Lots of banter on the ride between stages, but more importantly the riding is amazing and i love the challenge of putting in 5 good runs on different tracks.
Round 2 of the new Gravity Enduro UK series headed up to Kielder forest last weekend.
It was my first time in Kielder and the things i noticed about it are-
1 It is in the middle of nowhere.
2.The trails are pretty good.
3.There is no phone signal for 20 miles, so no texting, tweeting or internet for me. The humanity!
4.The pub is a shithole.
5.The Midges are relentless.
6.The static caravans are cold and damp.
Sounds good eh?
Ha, maybe it wasn’t all that bad. The stages had a good mix of technical and physical. Stage 1 was like an old school midlands DH race on a new cut track through the forest. After riding the stages in practise on the saturday, in torrential rain, i was a grumpy bugger. Not only was i cold and wet, i had absolutely no energy.
Sunday morning i felt a lot better and the sun was out! Maybe the two things were related?
The race was a mix of pushing hard on the technical stages and trying to survive on the physical ones. My preparation for this race had not been good, i hadn’t found time to do a training ride in almost 2 weeks, so that is probably why saturday almost killed me.
I managed to do pretty good on stages 1, 3 and 4 but got killed on 2 and 5.
I ended up with 3rd in Elite which i was pretty happy with to be honest. I am happy with how the series is going for me and i am still the leader of the series.
My Santa Cruz Blur LTc is the perfect bike for this racing/ riding. The Dirt bike check video seems to have gone down really well and people are really interested in the bikes we are running. It has had more than 360,000 views!
I must say i cant be happier with my bike it really flys up and down. Aren’t Mountain bikes amazing these days!
Roll on Eastridge where i know the trails.
Oh yeah, finally, you can get my MTB skills app free on itunes for your iphone or ipod here.
Coming soon to Andoid.
Photos courtesy of Peter Stevens Photography
Another weekend in Scotland and it was time for the first round of the Gravity Enduro series at Ae forest.
I have been looking forward to it for a long time and was nice to be loading up the camper and heading north. As you probably know, the weather has been amazing in the UK in the last few weeks but that was all to change as soon as i crossed the border and was welcomed by torrential rain and thunderstorms that pretty much stayed around for the whole weekend.
The Gravity Enduro series is new to the UK race scene and the format is much like a car rally, with 5 timed (mostly downhill) stages with linking stages that aren’t competitive.
The stages were all pretty good with 1 and 5 being awesome and the ones in between having there good and bad parts for me. Stages 2,3 and 4 were all pretty physical with some long flat sections but i guess that is the name of the game on these races. The final stage was the downhill track at Ae that was pretty rough and rutted from all the rain and 300 riders going over it twice.
Qualifying was on the Dh track saturday afternoon which was already hard going. I managed to qualify quickest in Elite which meant i would be last rider down the hill all day.
Sunday rolled around and it was time to race. I opted for the waterproof jacket but was still soaked through to the bone after about 20 mins, it was torrential! It was pretty wild weather and the next 4 hours were all cold ones.
I was riding my Santa Cruz Blur LTc which has 140mm travel on the rear and some Fox 36s upfront with 160 mm travel. I think my masterstroke of the weekend was running my new prototype Continental DH tyres. I chose to run dual ply tyres because one puncture on a stage and it would be curtains. I chose to run the fast compound Contis that i have been testing and i think they were a pretty important factor in my result. These races are all about pushing hard and trying to conserve energy where you can so you need a robust tyre to put up with the ‘not so light’ riding when you are sat down trying to save some energy. Within 30 seconds on the first stage i was already passing one of the fast guys, Chris Hutchens, he was out of the race already!
All the stages seemed to go pretty good for me, there were some good lines out there and i just tried to get from a to b as quick as possible and smoothly, carrying as much speed as i could so i wouldn’t have to try and pedal too much to get back up to speed.
We came around to the final stage which was back down the Dh course with a few alterations. By now it had stopped raining and the track was really hard work. Dropping through the finish it was a relief to be done, it was epic. Lots of miles and lots of sprints on the stages.
The times took a little while to get sorted out, but fair play to the guys organising, they seemed to do a good job all weekend and soon enough it was time for the prize giving.
I won the Elite by an overall 59 seconds, with wins on every stage but one where Gary Forest put 2 seconds into me. Stoked!
I have to say i didn’t know what to expect, but it felt amazing winning and putting in a strong performance. Big respect out to Box and Crawford who put a few seconds into me on the overall times. Those guys are hardcore and showed they know how to ride!
Big thanks to all my sponsors, Oneplanet Adventure, Santa Cruz, Hope, Renthal, Fox, Fox Racing Shox, Syncros and Continental.
Roll on round 2, i am getting the feeling back for this racing malarkey…
Here are a couple of shots, credit to Ian Linton