PMBA Enduro Round 4 6th June 2016 – “The secret location” around Grizedale otherwise known as Graythwaite by Dan Stafford
Words by Velo Bikes Grizedale
on 07/06/2016 13:03:03
This round was held at a previously unused and private estate called Graythwaite estate in the South Lakes. A good effort was made of social media introducing teaser videos in the run up to the event of what turned out to be five truly fantastic stages. The continuing extraordinarily good weather here in the South Lakes of the last few weeks added extra difficulty with the amount of dust and many riders not used to riding in that kind of heat. Drinking enough fluids became hugely important especially for those of us who did two laps on the day. Although short at only 7 miles, all the uphills mostly required pushing up and led to painful calf muscles at the end of the day. It was a surprisingly challenging course.
Stage 1, called SMK’s Scorpion was a fine introduction to what the five stages had to offer. Riders faced steep chutes with rocky and rooty parts and some cheeky little uphills just to keep you on your toes throughout. Many riders, me included, got to the bottom of this with sore arms holding on through the bumps and roots. In the dust and roots, there appeared to be huge amounts of grip on offer, until there wasn’t! I’m sure this caught many people out through the day on all the stages. Staying low and relaxed and not being afraid to get a foot out seemed to be the best approach. MY scariest moment of the day came on this stage when I managed to get my foot and pedal stuck under a rock just before a drop. Luckily, as my back wheel started to lift, my foot came free with the rock and I rode on, on my front wheel for a bit!
The amusingly named, UDH’s Gary the Polar Bear (still not sure why) was the most straight forward and least technical stage. It was flat out fast, off camber with some sneaky tight corners and rocky drops that came up all too fast at the pace most riders were going. There were many war stories of off line excursions and death gripping through small rock gardens. This was my fastest stage of the day and very enjoyable it was too.
Stage 3, built by the Sublime Ride crew was where the day started to get really serious for most. A five minute course hold allowed us all to dwell on what was coming up. One particular steep right hand corner was looming large in people’s mind. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one, but this stage really got into my head and I rode it very conservatively and carefully, getting down it clean but not especially fast. A short fast section through some nice bermed corners led to the first steep section and that dreaded right hander. Apparently, there was a catch berm at the bottom of it when first built, it was just a large pile of dust waiting to catch the front wheel and wash it down the hill. After this was safely negotiated, a great sequence of bermed “S”’s led to a small rock drop then into the trees for some tight, twisty and steep corners before the finish. I wouldn’t be surprised if this came out as the favourite stage of all the riders.
Stage 4, HDDN Gem, was steep, and relentless. The push up to the top almost killed me in the heat! A short, pumpy section dropped into steep corners that basically went straight down the steepest part of the hillside. I don’t remember much about this stage except squealing brakes, skidding tires and the adrenalin hit at the bottom that I had made it down unscathed especially after a small crash in practice. There was a steep, dusty chute at the bottom which was the scene of some carnage. I saw at least four crashes there in the short time we were resting at the bottom. The marshal at the bottom sounded constantly surprised when riders made it down safely! It was another great stage although again, I did not ride it aggressively enough and it I lost some time.
The appropriately named SMK’s Sadists Surprise was the last stage and was an absolute punisher on already tired legs. Just technical enough to punish any lapse in concentration with some fast gravelly trail, more short uphills and then the sadists surprise, an “enduro sprint” up a steep scree slope. This is where my run really came unstuck. A short, muddy section led to a small ditch/stream. In practice, a quick manual hopped me up and over it ready for an elegant cyclocross dismount and “sprint” up the slope. In the race run, tired mind and body led to a huge timing issue on the manual with the front wheel landing perfectly in the ditch and, like a wallowing hippo, I ended up on hands and knees in the water (it was refreshingly cool). My fatigued mind couldn’t work out why I couldn’t move, until a helpful photographer pointed out that my handlebar was wrapped up in my shorts! Wallowing complete, bike free, and brake front brake lever put back in a more friendly position I trundled up the scree and pointed my bike back down hill towards the finish arena, a nice drop into a steep landing built by Farmer John and then a skid into the finish area and the race was complete.
I’m a big fan of finishing in the main “arena”. It allowed for a great atmosphere with the many spectators watching the cheering the riders coming into the drops with one memorable bloke doing a Klinsman on his belly from top to bottom. Fortunately he was OK. The Surf ‘n turf van was also doing a roaring trade. This was a hugely challenging and superbly organised event as always and hopefully, we will get to do it all again next year. As long as it doesn’t rain, it would be an interesting day out in the wet and could lead to a fastest person sliding down the hill on their bum’s competition!
There were some great results for Velo Ulverston and Grizedale Mountain Bikes with Matty Jones winning the Master’s Category and Darren Howarth in 3rd in the Vets category. Clair Fowler again just missed out on a podium and came sixth, as did Tom Stacey who came 7th.