The No Fuss Events Endurance DH 2011

August 02 2011

Hitting the wrong line over and over again.

Knowing going faster is theoretically easier.

Wanting to overtake but being too polite.

Forgetting to fit DH tubes.

Waiting to take a drink until you’re already dehydrated.

Concentrating on flashing ladies instead of the track.

Cutting that left hand corner and overshooting the turn.

Being generally not very convincing.

Dave Flynn Orange Bikes Fort William Endurance DH 2011 No Fuss Events

If only you could win practise, zipping across the woodwork...

For some, the Endurance DH brings a whole conglomerate of frustrations, a tedious list that is almost the exact carbon copy of the mistakes you made the previous year. Racing for me represents annoyance; realisation that I’m no more a seasoned professional than Danny Hart is a glamour model. 

I bring pure mediocrity to the table, but unlike the rising superstar aforementioned, I have a whole world of self-improvement ahead of me. I may not race convincingly now, but with the checklist above I’ve got some great areas to make a start. Will Gwin, Minaar or Peaty knock 30 seconds off their run time at Fort William? Will Fairclough get his whips twice as clicked? Will Graves beat more than three people in a 4X heat? Will Joe Barnes better his current mullet? The answer to most of these questions is no!

Chris Hutchens Orange 225 No Fuss Events

Chris Hutchens showing the style of a winner... 

So what’s my point? Beyond being a better rider than everyone mentioned, it’s the fact the Endurance DH opens your eyes to what you can do rather than what you can’t, to what your aspirations might become not what they are, to make you realise riding a bike is so much more than playing it safe, it’s about testing yourself and seizing the challenge. If you find something new, get a different feeling, have fun on your bike and come away smiling, that is a clear win regardless of result. 

Orange Bikes 322 Guy Martin No Fuss Events Endurance DH

Guy Martin at full tilt,  shortly before knocking himself out on the rock section...

This is the third time the Orange Bikes van has rolled into the streets of Fort William for the No Fuss Endurance DH. Missing the inaugural event, we heard tales of carnage, both bike and body. Knowing little about the No Fuss Events setup we dived in headfirst, Vaughan Evans and I raced ever since, and with Jono Sykes joining the Halifax bike constabulary, the factory rivalry has reached a new high. 

Orange Bikes Jono Sykes Fort William No Fuss Endurance DH

Jono Sykes flying high on his Orange Patriot...

My first attempt at the race saw my borrowed 224 dive straight into a thoroughly surprising seventh place. Never having raced DH and having questionable faith in my own talents it was something of a shock. Year two and it was time to up my game and down my travel. Opting for the Five I’d been testing all summer, it underwent a radical diet of coil, dual ply and heavyweight. Thinking this setup to be a definite advantage on the climb, I was mortified to be less than average in my Troy Lee slow cooker. Things steadily improved though, the Five more than able on course. In fourteenth place, I’d again done enough to show V-dawg Evans who was boss. Any smugness regarding my short travel escapades were put into serious shadow as Jesse Wigman rode his hartail to fourth place overall!! Watch MTBcut's official video from last year's festivities...

 

 

Year three and Orange Bikes release the perfect mid point, bouncy enough to build into the perfect DH setup, but light enough to throw around or pedal to an early advantage on the climb. Jono and I have both done a fair amount of racing this summer and having dabbled in DH, we both agreed we could handle a smaller bike better; less travel, less weight, more neutral riding position and massively increased maneuverability. The 2012 Patriot was to be our ticket to endurance DH success, Vaughan Evans and his proto 322 had much to do.

Vaughan Evans Endurance DH No Fuss Events

Vaughan Evans, iridescent on course...

So what happened? Well, two laps into the race my lack of preparatory checks resulted in a minor mechanical issue; my rear wheel fell out! A hastily race prepped bike caused a scary top tube ride with more than my wheel getting battered and bruised. Managing to stay upright I proceeded to inspect the damage and formulate a plan of action. As it transpired my axle had bent beyond repair, but knowing time was ticking (and getting increasingly aggravated by an onslaught of heckling from the gondola overhead) I managed to force the maxle through the frame and tighten it up.

Orange Bikes Dave Flynn No Fuss Endurance DH

Dave flying the last jump in a mechanical-free practise...

Everything back in place, and stopping once per run to check everything was still secure, I managed a couple of fast runs. There was also something surreal about racing with Guy Martin, although after knocking himself out and putting a hole in his fork leg, he too was set for an early finish…

Stu Thomson Orange Bikes MTBcut Fort William Endurance DH

Stu Thomson from MTBcut, you never lose it...

All that was to be done for me was to catch Jono and Vaughan. Stu Thomson from MTBcut and Chris Hutchens from CycleJersey/Orange were already two laps ahead, things weren’t looking good. 

Orange Bikes Vaughan Evans No Fuss

Even the Outlaw Riders couldn't do enough to put Vaughan off...

Annoyingly, Vaughan was riding really well and after an impressive climbing effort at the start of the race, he continued to push ahead with consistent runs. Jono was off Vaughan’s pace and finished one lap down on his fellow Halifaxian, but with a destroyed rear wheel he was pleased to ride a good race. As for me, my luck (and talent) was set to dwindle, my back wheel blew to pieces on my sixth run. This meant a long walk down the track, stopping occasionally to enjoy the racing and laugh at the heckling of the Outlaw Riders. Watch Vaughan in action below...

 

 

So, what beyond our factory battle? Well Chris Hutchens took his proto 225 to the Senior win for CycleJersey/Orange, with Stu Thomson of MTBcut taking his proto Blood DH to second place. Vaughan Evans took his proto 322 to 32nd place, with Jono and his Patriot finishing in a thoroughly respectable 43rd place. Me, not important...

Orange Bikes No Fuss Events Endurance DH

The real winners of the day; Chris Hutchens, Stu Thomson and Ben Arnott...

The Endurance DH isn’t about where you finish, it’s about pushing yourself to ride for harder and longer. Like DH racing it can be intensely frustrating; what could have been or what you should have done. It isn’t about putting one race run together, it’s about consistent speed and keeping your bike in one piece. No matter what your race fortunes one thing is clear, you will never be finished with the Hope Endurance DH! See you next time...

Vaughan Evans Orange Bikes 322

That's it for another year, too long to wait until the next one...

Visit our Facebook page for all the photographs from John Chennells and Michael Bonney, there's plenty of good ones.

For a less Orange-centric writeup, Iain "Ace" Woodley wrote a great story.

Check the full results on the No Fuss Events website.

 

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