Race Report : The Dudes of Hazzard’s ‘This is Enduro Now!’

November 20 2012

No Fuss Events are reknowned for having a remarkable ability to run races that defy convention. 'This is Enduro Now!' was no different. As James Shirley rightly points out below, an enduro race in Kinlochleven well into the winter months was certainly a gamble. The race, thankfully, would turn out to be one of the best of the year more than simply because the racing was great. 'This is Enduro Now!' had a great venue in The Ice Factor (home to the World's largest indoor ice climbing wall), a petting zoo plus a Saturday night party and movie premier!

The race saw a very good showing of Oranges young and old, big and small. Many of these Oranges would be at the sharp end of the results when all the dibbers had been handed in.

Pro Men and Overall winner of 'This is Enduro Now!', Fergus Lamb, used local knowledge and an utter disregard for the laws of physics to pilot his Five to glory, 10 seconds ahead of local hero Ruari Watt, 10 seconds back, also on a Five.

The top 30 was full with fast folk riding Halifax-built cycles. Our wordsmith James Shirley slotted into 5th overall on his Five, fellow Dude Liam Moynihan breathing down his neck in 6th aboard his Alpine 160. MTBcut's teen sensation Fraser McGlone just behind on his bright pink Five into 7th. Ben Whitehead also on his Neon Orange Five posted an identical overall time to MTBcut chief Stu Thomson aboard his 140 29er prototype. They would share 12th place. MTBcut's Joe Barnes would likely have given Fergus Lamb a run for his money with stage wins on stages 2 and 3. A broken chain on stage one saw him slip down the rankings and would take 15th. Junior winner Ben Miller would start the 20s aboard his bright pink Five with Hope's Sam Flanagan not far behind in 23rd in a day that was marred by punctures. Orange's own paint supremo, Vaughan Evans, stood out in the slop on his Neon Yellow Five, a consistent day saw him 23rd in Master and 78th overall. Pete's performance was a little disjointed. Steady on stages 1 and 3, the more gravity orientated saw him either side of the 100th mark, but a 37th on the pedally stage 2 certainly helped his overall. 

James Shirley took 5th overall in the race after the mud had settled. Here's his race report:

What is enduro? The beauty of this question is that no one really knows. The discipline has no specific definition and is therefore open to interpretation. We, The Dudes of Hazzard, took it upon ourselves to express our opinion of how an enduro race should be held. In conjunction with No Fuss Events, we stamped our name into the enduro dictionary by organised the inaugural ‘This is Enduro Now’ enduro. This is not cross country, this is not downhill. This is enduro now...

We believe that enduro should consist of long downhill orientated stages which require skill and technique to ride quickly. Riders will need high fitness levels due to the length of the trails and for laying down the power between inevitable flat and uphill sections that link the good bits together. With its steep slopes and numerous natural footpaths, Kinlochleven makes for the perfect play area. For hosting such an event, the Ice Factor building (a large converted aluminium smelter) was the ideal venue. The date: 17th/18th November. Despite expectations of cold wet weather, the spirit of enduro is to get involved and that’s what 313 people decided to do! 

View from the top of stage 3 - stunning. Photo courtesy of Sam Flanagan.

Heavy rain for the last few weeks limited track choice but we arrived early on Wednesday morning to start building the course. All the trails at Kinloch are full to the brim with gnar so the plan was to make them easy enough for the average punter to consider riding. We rolled away the biggest of the loose boulders, cut back the heather on the deepest ruts, created down slopes on the back of the drops and dug in some berms on the flat corners. Blobs of tape guided people in the right direction along the open hillside and the tricky bits were double taped to keep people safe and on track.

Pete back in from all 3 stages and more than a little wet. MTBRider's Boris Beyer had to sit the race out but still had a lot of fun! Photo courtesy of Hannah Barnes.

The weather was mixed for practice on Saturday. It took me about two and a half hours to do a quick lap of the course. On the last stage I got properly hailed on and arrived back to the Ice Factor completely numb. The showers were luxury and I soon warmed up as I waited for my food in the restaurant upstairs. After dinner, the MTBcut party kicked off with plenty of great tunes and some films playing in the background. The highlight of the night was the showing of the brand new Dudes of Hazzard Episode 7 with a guest appearance from none other than Jesus himself.

The race started at 9am on Sunday morning. The Pros were allowed to set off first to give them a clear run. Everyone had to go through scrutineering for a quick bike check before picking up their dibbers. With no set start time for the stages, riders were allowed to cruise round as they wished as long as they completed all three stages in numerical order and left for the final stage before 1pm.

I dragged my dual ply downhill tyres to the top of stage one and prepared myself for action. The stage started with a fast blast down a loose rocky walker’s path (Grey Mares trail) mixed with the occasional soft boggy bit. The middle part consisted of an undulating pedally section across three river crossings which were tricky to carry speed through. The final third took riders into the trees and down some steep technical corners. One of which was a two foot drop to ninety degree right hand corner with a nasty banking to fall down if you got it wrong. For comedy value, the end dibber was placed on the top of a small hummock with a big old tree trunk lying in the way for riders to hop/jump/crash their way over.  

Stage 1 - This corner was possibly the hardest section of the whole race. Photo courtesy of Nicola Johnson.

Stage two (Gary Walks the Dog) was the shortest stage but still very important. It was generally quite flat so any small mistakes would be exaggerated. A tough climb followed a crucial stream crossing halfway through. At the top of the hill, the course traversed for a short while to meet the very end of the Ciaran path to give a fast flowing finish to the stage.

Stage three took riders along the same climb as used for stage 1: to the Mamore Lodge and beyond.  Only this time we kept grinding our way even further up to the top of the Loch Eilde path (aka the Kennels). This stage was almost purely downhill except for the odd little rise and compulsory bog. The trail flowed nicely if you hit it with enough speed. Even at rest, you could quite literally appreciate the flow of the trail as the water gushed down it like a stream. Visibility had been a problem all day but it was on stage three when most people started to experience brake issues as their pads began to run out of material. 

Essential equipment - the Hope/Bawbags prototype mudflap.

On arrival back at the Ice Factor, riders handed in their dibbers and they were presented with their times. Joe won the 2nd and 3rd stages but lost a huge chunk of time with a chain related disaster on the 1st stage. Liam came home in a strong 6th position despite various dramas along the way. I was content in 5th position only one second behind local hero Gary MacDonald. Greg Williamson rode well to finish 3rd even with a big crash at the end of the day. Ballachulish boy (which is apparently not close enough to be considered local) Ruari Watt was sitting happy in 1st place until Fergy Baby Lamb Chops stepped up and took the win by a whole 10 seconds! Katy Winton smashed the girls’ category and beat a lot of the boys at the same time.

Fergus Lamb: 'THIS IS ENDURO!"

For full results, check out the Sportident website here.

Overall, the event was a big success: quality trails, excellent format, fantastic venue and a fun relaxed atmosphere. Expect to see something similar this time next year...

The Dudes of Hazzard's chief, Joe Barnes, put this race edit together after smashing all 3 stages early doors on Sunday.

Thanks to all who helped make the race possible and to all the riders than turned up to make it what it was. Here's to next year's event!

 

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