Round 3 of the PMBA Enduro Series was hosted by Lee Quarry and Havoc Bikepark. Having previously crashed out of contention at Round 1 at Gisburn, I was hoping to redeem myself and finish all 6 stages of the 23 mile loop without a costly mistake.
We travelled up on the Friday evening to try and make the weekend as relaxing as possible. Limited camping was available adjacent to the event start area which provided a convenient base for event preparation.
The Saturday was spent practising the loop. With the loop being big and a bit of hassle some people chose to drive up to havoc rather than ride to save energy for race day. I opted to just ride round to get a feel for it and certainly wished I hadn’t at some points in the lap. The night had had some rain and I hoped that the more marble-like stages would wet-up a bit giving more grip. However my wish wasn’t granted and the stages dried up to be the same as the day before.
Stage one was situated at the top of a quarry with tonnes of other tracks surrounding it. The start of the stage was quite loose and gravelly with undulating berms and a small step up for gaining added style points. After dropping down across a fire road you sprinted adjacent to it and up into a 2 berm switchback. This then dropped down to a hairpin, which I stalled on and missed a cut line, costing me valuable seconds, before dropping onto a loose gravelly single track before the last sprint to the finish. It turns out a few mistakes and missing the cutline cost me a lot of time finishing 19th on the stage.
The transition from stage one to two was a long marshy moor drag. This was when I decided I was going to go full enduro and remove the cheek-pads from my full-face to help me not sweat to death in the 24C!
Stage two was quite a demanding stage as the variety of lines through the technical section and lots beforehand. The stage started off with a long downhill bumpy sprint along the moor which made putting good pedals in hard work. After switching direction rather quickly you dropped onto the technical section that was littered with loose rocks, bricks, grass tumps and little ruts. The drop subsequently led to a mass of boulders and lines, all dropping into an awkward left turn with a rock in the way making certain line choices hard work. You then either ran or sprinted up out of this turn into an undulating section with a few loose rocks here and there before dropping one more time onto the last sprint. I improved my result and finished 11th on the stage with a little mistake that didn’t cost me too much time.
The transition to stage 3 involved passing through town and up a steep hill that most decided to push up to save energy in the heat. The stage started immediately throwing you into a steep bermed section that had a cut line to skip the first berm. It was a very fast descent that undulated with severe ups and downs before finally gapping into a rock garden. Then a nasty climb filled with more rocks that most riders decided to run up to minimise potential mistakes by riding it. The stage after the climb dropped into and fun flowy set of turns and roots before the stage finished on a path leading to a bridleway. I felt I could have gone faster on the top section and wasn’t too impressed with it until I found out it was my best placed stage finishing 7th.
Stage four had the longest and most mile consuming transition of the day. Covering moor land, fire roads and fields. This transition didn’t come without incident as the tough grass ripped my chain off my cassette and into the spokes, thanks to the people who stopped and helped me get it back over. One of the riders I was riding with all day, Ben Moore, crashed bunny hopping on a fire road, I nearly ran him over! This was where the heat was felt with some riders taking off jerseys to stay cool.
Stage four was at Havoc Bike Park, called the Red at Havoc, and was amazingly flowy and arguably the best stage of the day with jumps, north-shore, berms, slippy rocks, gaps, loam and drops. The stage started off with north-shore taking you around the first few corners and drifting into some corners on the slippy rocks, jump sections led to berms and a little drop into a large berm before more north-shore, a small rock garden jump, and crossing a fire road for a small gap and a really fun loamy section that was the time maker of the stage, you rounded a corner, across the fire road and dropped to the finish line. Overall I finished 14th and walked up to the feed station to get water before stage 5.
Feeling fed and watered we walked up the push-up path to the top of stage 5. This was the one stage that let me down in the end as I rode some of it on my top tube struggling after a near OTB moment after a rock garden. The Stage started off in similar fashion to stage four minus the north-shore with an abundance of slippy rocks and slabs in berms and stripped roots which caught me out in practice. I found the grip levels very unpredictable losing my front wheel occasionally. After crossing a fire road, much of the same continued until 2 long berms before a rock garden where I nearly crashed afterwards, OTB moment. After getting back into the pedals, a long loamy stretch before a drop off to some off camber roots and slippy ground which had me foot out most of the way down before the stage finished half way down a very steep bermed section onto the fire-road. I knew I hadn’t done too well on the stage and finished 17th overall.
The final transition before the end to stage six was mainly back up to where we came in for the start of stage 4 and a road through town and dodging drivers bibbing horns. This was easily the most relaxing transition for our tired bodies as we all knew that this was the last one. We entered Lee Quarry for the second time that day to ride up to stage 6. On our way up, me and Ben stopped to examine lines on a gorge-like section that led to the KS Rhythm section. We then made our way to start of the last stage that day. The stage started off in a much similar way to stage one with a climb out of a berm which was a bit of a pain. The stage cut across 3 tracks dropping off the backs of berms till it reached a fire road and dropped into the gorge. The steep turns before the entry point cost a few people when they stalled like me or fell down the bank after missing it completely. Once you hit the fire road, there was a bit of recovery pedalling, through a fence and onto the KS Rhythm section, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The stage then had the same finish sprint as stage one which didn’t matter a jot as I was high off adrenaline to have finished the stage and survived the day.
Over all I finished 12th in the U19 with only 0.25 of a second in-between me and 10th! The times where tight and it wasn’t the best result I’ve had, but I was left reminded of why I race and buzzing for the next round at the Lakes on the 5th June.
This was the first race on the new Fox Float X2 Shock thanks to Slam69 Mojo Suspension! The shock added more stability and subtleness to the bike all weekend and I loved it!
Slam69, Oneal, Mudhugger, Dartmoor
Words by Carl Crowley