Enduro 6 4-05-03

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Updated 28 May 2003


Karrimor/Specialized Enduro 6 MTB Race, 4th May 2003

The Enduro 6 is now a well-established event on the MTB calendar, held every year in early May at Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire. Competitors can race either as a team of two or solo, around a set course of 7 miles, the winner being the one that completes the most number of laps in 6 hours.

I was entered in the Mixed Pairs category with my partner Renell. Technically I was not racing for De Laune in this event but actually for Specialized, co-sponsors of the race. Renell was racing in the colours of her sponsor, Kona. We'd arrived on the Saturday and pre-ridden the course, which after a week of unending rain was very muddy and slippery. However, Sunday dawned bright and warm and the course began drying out remarkably quickly. The race started at 10am with a Le Mans style run to the bikes. The race organisers had told us it would be "about 600 metres" then once we were all on the start line they said "OK, you've got a 2km run to the bikes…"

Fortunately, I got a good start in the run and came through in the top 30 or so to pick up my bike from Renell and ride out onto the course. I started by doing a double lap, team tactics saying that the first changeover period would be very hectic. The course consisted of a lot of muddy singletrack, a bit of fireroad and two brutal climbs, the first of which was mostly unrideable due to the mud. I completed the two laps in 1hr10, which put us straight into the lead in the Mixed Pairs category. After that, Renell and I alternated laps, with me lapping in 40 minutes and Renell in about 43-44 minutes. After each lap, I had 40 minutes to eat, drink and wash the mud off the bike ready for my next stint. At about the half way mark we dropped into 2nd place, but then swapped back and forth between 1st and 2nd several times as the race progressed. With one hour left on the clock, I went out to do a second double lap, hoping to be able to hold our first place. The first lap went well; by now the course was mainly dry with only the occasional bit of sticky muddy singletrack to slow things down. At the start of my second lap, I was beginning to fade in spite of the energy gel I'd taken and half way round I was caught by the 2nd place rider. I held his wheel for as long as possible but knew then that it was a matter of me hanging on in there and trying to retain second place as the team in 3rd were also breathing down our necks. The final climb proved too tough this lap and I pushed the bike up it before taking on the singletrack descent. 6 hours of mountain bikers riding this had churned up the wet, loose soil leaving exposed and dangerously slick roots. The ground in the last section of woodland had hardened to the consistency of plasticene making it energy sapping and slow but then I was through, out by the pond and onto the final grass slope to the finish. The bell had already rung to sound the end of the six hours and I came through the finish to record our team's final time of 6.23.21 for a total of 9 laps. I'd ridden 6 of those laps, a distance of 40 miles, which included some 5000ft of climbing.

Above photo courtesy of Singletrackworld
I crossed the finish line and collapsed on the ground too tired to return the hug from a delighted Renell. A friend offered me a doughnut, which I accepted gratefully. "I thought you'd want one, it's always you elite boys that like doughnuts!" he said as he congratulated us on our result. I was given a clean jersey by Carole from Specialized "it'll look good on the podium" she said. Renell and I each won a Kahuna watch, a Kahuna courier bag and some biking kit from Karrimor. It was, as Renell said, a good start to the season!

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