Ae Forest - UK Gravity Enduro Series

May 10 2011

The Inaugural round of the UK Gravity Enduro headed to Ae Forest for a weekend of wet weather thrills and spills. A fast course turned into a mud bath as riders battled with exposed roots and off camber traverses right to the finish line. Ian Linton went along with his photographic equipment, massive respect for braving the conditions and getting some great shots.

Brodie Gardias

Brodie Gardias flying for the Continental team, before it got really wet...

The course divided opinion with the final section particularly tough to negotiate. Using some of the DH track from the first round of the SDA, the closing stages were steep with exposed roots liberally covered with mud, Jon at Singletrack was keen to help sanitise the course as he heckled Guy Kesteven...

Gary Forest Orange Five

Gary Forest taking fourth in Elites...

In the Orange Bikes contingent, Chris Hutchens and James Shirley went along to try their hand at this new breed of racing. Chris Hutchens wrote the report below:

This sort of event has been popular for a few years with the Maxi Avalanche races being very similar, but this is the first time that a series has been run in the UK. Five races each with five timed stages being combined to give an overall time for the day.

Carrie Poole Ae Enduro Orange Five

Carrie Poole controlling the slide...

This is aimed at a short travel xc bike, good on the descents but can also carry you up the climbs. Our weapon of choice was the Orange Five with Fox suspension. James chooses a Talas 36 with myself going for the Talas 32 fork. We went for single rings upfront with a 34t for James and a 36t for myself. I didn’t have a gravity dropper seat post but I think it’s a secret ingredient for some of the sections that James put into action.

Being run by 3 people with a distinctly downhill background it should be a series incorporating a varied amount of different trails but featuring plenty of technical descents. Whether Ae Forest had enough is debatable by some but I think it was a good balance between trail centre descents and tough, muddy natural encounters.

Adam Hughes Orange Five Ae Enduro

Adam Hughes making light work of the mud...

I got back from a warm, sunny trip to South Africa for the first round of the Downhill World Cup on Friday so arriving at Ae with the wipers on and going into the field on full lock was a slight change and welcome back to reality. It was a sort of comforting feeling getting back to the usual type of riding which we have grown to love in the UK – cold and wet!

James, Ali Mac  (who gave me a lift down using Tesco’s two litre bottles of Vegetable Oil to fuel his van...chip shop smell for 80 miles) and myself looked at some of the stages on the 30km loop on the Saturday afternoon before cycling back to the top of the hill for seeding.

James finished fourth in Elite for seeding and I managed second. This was pretty good considering neither of us had practiced the whole track and gave us some confidence going into Sundays final. 

James Shirley Orange Bikes Five Ae Enduro

James Shirley flying to a solid first stage...

The seeding ordered riders for Sunday's race, which kicked off in what could have been compared to an Indian monsoon. WILD!  Stage one was a long descent incorporating the ‘Shredder’ running down the main hill at Ae with Jumps, rocks and berms. James got a clean run down but I unfortunately suffered a puncture half way down the top section. This caused a bit of problems for me, losing almost two minutes on everyone else on the first stage. I went back to the van to fix my puncture and quickly refuelled. I then headed for stage two. I knew I didn’t have much time so powered to the start. On approaching the stage I could see James pedalling hard through the tree and Glynn Obrien about to leave the start, I was due next. This called for a desperate sprint to the start of the stage to catch the 5,4,3,2,1 and I was off, out of breath, goggle-less and restricted by a super high saddle. This proved difficult but I finished the stage, unfortunately not fast, with James putting in time on me. 

Chris Hutchens Ae Enduro

Hutchens struggling on without goggles...

We both cruised to the third stage, a long one that starts very flat and is quite rough with lots of sharp edged rocks. The bad luck this time fell on James where he punctured near the top and had to cruise down to the finish losing just over two minutes. I guess we both now hoped that everyone else would puncture at some point, as there was no chance we would make up this time on the remaining stages. The other stages went fairly well considering the difficult conditions.

We couldn’t worry too much as it was just a bit unlucky to get a puncture. We did work out that if we hadn’t punctured that our times would have probably put us on the podium. We did end up second and third last in Elite, epic fail! To say we were both annoyed would be true but it was fantastic to see some great riders turning up for this with Neil Donoghue taking the win in Elite.

Adam Nolan Ae Enduro Orange Five

Adam Nolan keeping low...

James will be doing the next round at Kielder, and I’ll be taking on the Innerleithen round in July. Hopefully we can both stay puncture free and get onto the podium.

Thanks to all the organisers for a fun weekends racing. 

Team CycleJersey Orange.

Check full results here.

Alex Quinn Ae Enduro 2011

The Enduro phenomenon has begun, Alex Quinn flying his Alpine 160

Tempted to sign up? Take a look at the UK Gravity Enduro Series website.

As ever, thanks to Ian Linton for the shots, check Roots and Rain later in the week to see if you've been caught in action.

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