Chris Hutchens reports…
July 27 2011
The hardest event of the year right on his doorstep, Chris wasn't too upset to be missing the Nationals. The Hope No Fuss Events Endurance DH is a firm favourite amongst the hardy few, and with teammate and two-time winner James Shirley out of action, Chris was keen to keep the flag flying for TCJ/Orange. Turning up midday in his boat shoes, did Chris have the preparations in place to stave off MTBcut mastermind and ex-World Cup racer Stu Thomson? Chris writes:
It had been a few years since I last entered the six hour downhill event. A last minute change of plan saw me head to Fort William to compete instead of down to the British Championships in Wales which I was disappointed not to attend.
Chris Hutchens looking 'dissapointed' at the bottom of the motorway section...
I was looking forward to the pain I was going to be putting myself through and seeing a lot of good riders fight it out over the hours descending one of the longest race tracks in the world. It’s rated as the best on the downhill world cup race circuit due to its speed and bike breaking reputation.
The running start kicked off the race before the climb to the halfway point of the track. I made an early break on my Orange 225 leading halfway up the climb before some weapons came past me. Luckily I pressed on and made it onto the first Gondola car with two other riders. This gave me an early lead where I grabbed an open track at about 4pm.
Chris getting his berm on the motorway...
I hadn’t ridden at Fort William for a few weeks and didn’t practise earlier in the day so took a few steady runs to get into the rhythm of things and to pace myself for the full six hours. The first eight runs went well while I pushed further ahead of second place, MTBcut's Stu Thomson, and gave myself a four minute lead.
I then seemed to hit a bit more pace; warmed up and the blisters appearing on my hands plastered I put in some faster runs. Teammate and last year's winner James Shirley kept me up to date on the times. James is still injured after a crash in Europe, he’ll be back soon! Ali MacLennan was putting in faster run times than me but with my good start and steady runs I was probably ten minutes ahead in total so I was banking on getting in an extra run at the end or for my continuing improvement in run speed to improve my overall time.
It's all about speed; boosting past the wallride...
I headed up for run twelve of the day feeling like a good seventeen or so was on the cards with a remaining 1 hour and 40 minutes left. Five more following this was definitely doable. A red flag appeared at the top of the track while I was on the gondola. Not surprised I thought it would be clear by my arrival at the start. Unfortunately it wasn’t and after 40 minutes of waiting around it was decided that we would all do a final run from the top and call it a day as it was 9.15 PM and about 100 riders were cued on the track. That’s when my advantage went but I put in a fast run, the fastest of the day. The important thing was to get the casualty off the hill; I hope he makes a speedy recovery from his injuries.
Everyone grabbed their stuff following the last run while being devoured by the clearly starved midges. Results were printed and the rumours James warned me of were true; bumped into second overall but still winning my category. It was all friendly competition under the circumstances and a fantastic evening of racing. In total we clocked up over an hour of descending... I’ll be getting new wheels now!
Boat shoes are crucial for podium traction...
Shall I be doing it again next year? I hope so and would recommend it to anyone wanting a challenge and to get a lot of riding done. Thanks to No Fuss Events for another fantastic event with a super atmosphere. The next No Fuss event for me will be the Tour De Ben Nevis.
It’s been a good month of racing for me with three races and three podiums - One first place and two second positions in three very different disciplines.
Next for me is the SDA at Glencoe, but for now a rest is needed! James heads to the next Gravity Enduro in Wales in two weekends time, hopefully he’s all fixed up.