Things are really kicking off this year in a massive way with UK Racing. The sport of Enduro is reaching out far and wide to bring a collective of disciplined riders into its fine embrace. The racing seems to be going off big time, with fantastic sponsorship from manufacturers and bike brands alike, all busting a gut to get involved in this fast growing part of the MTB world. So what’s new, what’s hot, what’s not, who’s got the lot and who ain’t got a lot for 2014?
UKGE AND EMPIRE/PMBA ENTRIES SELL LIKE HOT CAKES
With the season fast approaching, the well-established UKGE series has stamped its mark on the world of race organization. Steve put his entries for the first three rounds out live, and within one day had sold out, selling a cool thousand of them!
Also the new series of Empire/PMBA have sold over 60% of round one and over 50% of round two, with round one soon expected to be sold out. This, for a new event organizer is exceptional, just showing the country-wide popularity of our mega sport.
MINI-ENDURO GOING BACK TO WHERE THINGS BEGAN
Mini-Enduro top man, Chris Roberts, has approached local, historic venue Hawkestone Folly about holding one of his races there this season. They are more than happy to oblige, they have been back and sussed out some of the old DH and XC runs from the early 90’s and prior to a good weekend’s work party things will be going ahead. This is where I did my first ever DH race, an amazing place with huge caves at the top, these will be where a couple of the stages will start from, right inside! Hawkestone is on private land, so please, no locals trying to go up there riding, it will ruin it for all of us.
A NEW RACING CONCEPT IS BORN- TRAIL STYLE DH WITH UPLIFTS
Well if Enduro is bridging the gap between DH and XC, this new type of racing can only be classed as bridging the gap between DH and Enduro, is it a bit niche, will true Enduro participants take part? Either way it sounds like great fun and perfect practice for real Enduro. To be run by Si Paton from the BDS, this is his press release-
May 17th and 18th 2014. Moelfre Hall, Moelfre near Oswestry.
Moelfre King of the Mountain!
“Taking the best elements from the World of Enduro and Downhill, mixing them together to bring you this unique event at one of the most scenic venues the UK has to offer.
The course will track around the hillside capturing all the best natural and man made features on offer. Starting at the top of the hill you will traverse the hillside with some wide open corners before descending down a fast and long rocky chute, maintaining your speed to enable you to conquer a short uphill section. A quick flat section before you descend into a real downhill section and head across the hill above the 4x track where you will hit some more wide open grassy corners, before hitting the end of the 4x track and some of the best berms in the land. Across the stream and into the long finish straight for a stand up sprint across the finish line!
We expect the course to be in excess of five minutes long for the fastest riders and you will be best suited to race on an Enduro style Mountain bike. Please note, you must wear a full face helmet whilst on track.
The course will be signed off by a British Cycling Commissaire prior to practice starting, the course will be taped and marshals will be in place along with medics on both days. Live and accurate timing by Sports Timing Services and their Tag Heuer equipment.
You can enter either the Saturday, Sunday or both days depending on your budget and availability. Saturday uplift/practice day for £30.00. If you don’t fancy racing and just want to get some quality ride time in then this maybe right up your street. Bike friendly uplifts will run from 09:00 to 18:00 so expect to get close to one hours worth of descending in that day, start doing some press ups now!
Sunday is race day! Practice with bike friendly uplifts all day will be from 08:30 to 11:45 with racing starting at 12:00 sharp. Racers will get two timed runs on the same course with both times being added together for your overall time. Results will be instant!
All delivered by the tried and trusted team of the established and successful British Downhill Series – The BDS. Entries go live on the British Cycling Website at 09:00 on the 14th of February.”
SHUCKSMITH BROTHERS HOOK UP WITH RAFFERTY BROTHERS FOR PRO RIDE GUIDES TEAM
The Rafferty brothers, Alex and Joe run Pro Ride Guides, which is a mountain bike coaching company (and now) race team too, supported by Specialized UK, Mavic, Mojo, SRAM, Renthal and Julbo eye wear. Pro Ride Guides also organize the ‘Ard Rock Enduro. The brothers have raced Enduro for the last couple of years, gaining podiums and consistent top 10 finishes in the Elite category at UKGE. Alex and Joe come from a mountain bike coaching background (Joe hides the fact he raced Triathlon for GB), whereas Phil and Sam competed at a high level in DH – Phil used to race World Cups!
Joe has been looking after the teams’ fitness during the off-season, and he reports that the boys are riding as strong as ever. They’ll be riding Specialized Enduro 26 and 29 bikes this season and they’re all loving the specialist suspension set up support from Mojo. The team aims to race the UKGE series, selected World/European events and the Mountain of Hell. Joe and Alex will be running Enduro specific training days this year, so keep and eye out for them at round one.
UKGE main man, Steve Parr will still be heading the MDE team for this season, new riders being Alex Langley (Elite Male), the very quick James Keen (Under 18s) and Old Skool DHer Simon (Kenny) Everitt (Masters) Last years riders competing again will be Liz Simmonds and Rich King (Vets)
All riders ‘steads will be the new MDE Carve 7, 150mm 650b, with support from Shaman Racing, One Industries, Mavic, ODI, Avid and Sram
INTENSE UK/BAD ASS BIKES REVEAL 2014 ENDURO TEAM
Intense UK importers Extra UK, together with Somerset based shop Bad Ass Bikes, have teamed up to bring together a six rider team of racers, to compete in the 2014 UK Gravity Enduro Series.
Simon Ford of Extra UK says, “At Extra we have a great pool of quality brands to pull product from, so it makes perfect sense to use a UK team to test and prove these products at races in the UK. The team will use Intense frames, mostly equipped with Ergon saddles and grips, Novatec wheelsets, Cane Creek DB Shocks, Crank Brothers bars, stems and pedals and Rapid Racer Mudguards. Workshop support comes from Topeak, race fuel will be supplied by Clif and back packs will be supplied by Ergon.”
“The rider list consists of Andrew Titley, Rob ‘Box’ Cooksley, Andy Saddler, Joe Finney, Matt Hending and Richard Wood.”
“Emphasis for the team for 2014 is good attitude, good fun and elbows out racing. Goals for the team are winning, representation and semi-professionalism”
Rob ‘Box’ Cooksley, Team Manager and serious elbows out racer says, “It’s a pleasure for us to have the support of Extra UK in conjunction with Intense bikes. It’s great to be playing a part in the developing race format of Enduro and we hope to make a good account of ourselves in 2014.”
ENDURO MAG, UK’S LONG TERM TEST BIKES
I personally will be racing upon my long-term test bike, the Intense Carbine 29, supported by shop team- Blazing Bikes, with team mates Richi Lewis (2012 Veteran UKGE champ) Intense Tracer 29 and Andrew Cooper (Seniors) Specialized Enduro 29
Our other top UK Editor, racer and all round nice guy, Trev Worsey will also be putting a long term test bike through it’s paces, in the form of the rather fetching 650B Focus SAM 1. Look out for either of us at various races near and far.
TITLEY GETS THE A-TEAM DEAL
Long term racer, Andrew Titley, favorite for the top spot this season in the Masters category had this to say about his time so far in racing, and the move over from Ghost to Intense.
“I was stoked to be approached by Box from Bad Ass Bikes to join the BAB/Intense Team. 2013 saw me broaden my riding discipline from just Downhill to include some Enduro racing, with several good podium finishes. This has spurred me on for the 2014 season and I have been training hard in preparation for the start of the season. There will be a team presence at the Gravity Enduro’s with Intense Tech support. I’ll be in Masters and Box in Elite. In addition to riding for Bad Ass Bikes/Intense/One Industries/SixSixOne I’ll also be backed by RockGuardz, Renthal and Hope Technology.
It will be a busy year of racing with the Gravity Enduro’s, One Industries Mini-Enduro’s and the BDS. I’ll be racing a super tricked out Intense Carbine 29er in Enduros, and for the downhill, an equally as trick Intense 951 Evo – my dream bikes!
I’ve been riding bikes competitively since the late 80’s and started getting into Mountain biking in the early days. I moved over from racing cross-country to downhill as soon as it started to come on to the MTB scene in the UK. I was lucky to be picked up by some of the early teams, including MBUK/GT/Nike, Saracen/Coors and Sports Division; plus I raced alongside some of the downhill legends, including Peaty and Warner. This led to me riding professionally for four years, travelling the world competing and representing Great Britain on several occasions. I have since kept up riding semi-pro most recently with Ghost/Sombrio for the 2012 season and Ghost/One Industries/SixSixOne in 2013. As I live in Bristol I’ve got some great trails and riding on my door-step and I can’t wait to get on some road trips later this year.”
PIONEER SCOTT SYNCROS TEAM
Last year’s most winningest rider, Lee Kermode, who smashed the Masters competition now makes the move up to Elite with full backing of the Factory Scott team. Lee, Helen Gaskell and Callum Drew will all be racing upon the much-anticipated Scott LT Tuned 650b 170mm travel weapons
With the Cotic team things are shuffling around a bit, last years’ regular podium taker, Chay Granby (Masters) is set for Elite this year, after the move up with Lee Kermode. Chay will be on a new bike, but things are still a bit hush hush there. Joining him on the team after the departure of Noz Lewis, is the very fast (also Master) rider Rich Norgate, Rich will be competing at the UKGE, jetting over from his dream job as trail guide in the Trans Provence! Cotic’s machine shop is now based in Sheffield, so I’m sure we will be seeing something quite special from them soon.
JOSH LEWIS SIGNS TO SANTA CRUZ
Downhill demon Josh (aka Noz) Lewis rode under the banner of the Steve Peat Syndicate upon a Santa Cruz and a Cotic at the Enduros last year. This year he has gone full Santa Cruz (upon the ever popular Bronson) riding for Santa Cruz UK, Stif Cycles and Fox Europe.
WHYTE BIKES GETS INVOLVED
Whyte Bikes are really going into the Enduro thing this year with a decent race presence upon their great looking new G150 650b bikes, headed by Shropshire’s Neil Halcrow. Team details are-
Riders- Neil Halcrow – racing in Master, Peter Lloyd – racing in Junior, Ben Price – racing in Elite male, Martyn Brookes – racing in Elite male
Sponsors include- Whyte Bikes, Sram, Sweet Protection, Osprey Packs, Torq Fitness
Races include- UKGE series – all riders. Enduro World Series – Scotland all riders Enduro World Series Finale – Neil, Martyn (tbc). Possibly other Enduro World Series rounds, mostly Europe (riders entries tbc). Megavalanche – Pete and Martyn . Dyfi Enduro – Neil and Pete. Ard Roc Enduro – Neil, Pete, Ben, Martyn
The guys will also be racing some XC/Enduro races of their own choosing to add to the race list but above list is pretty certain if not already confirmed. For more info on the team check http://www.whytebikes.com/2014/article.php/8/
CHRIS KEEBLE-SMITH SIGNS FOR MARIN
One of The Don’s biggest threats last year, rapid racer Chris Keeble-Smith has just signed with Marin Cycles, to ride (one of my favorite looking bikes on show at Eurobike) the beautiful carbon Marin Attack Trail 650b. Chris is one hell of a rider and with support from Stan’s No Tubes wheel-sets and CNP Nutrition he shall be stamping his authority on the UK Enduro scene in 2014.
AL STOCK DROPPED BY KONA
Kona have unfortunately ditched Alex Stock, apparently due to lack of budget for a race team. This is a real shame, as Al is one hell of a rider, having taken the overall win in the Elites last season, and a fantastic character too. We at Enduro Mag hope Alex gets something sorted for himself for this season, as talent like that should never go un-guided. Hopefully by the time you read this he will be sorted!
OLD SKOOL TOP DOWNHILLERS TO MAKE THEIR ENDURO DEBUT
There are four riders I know of at present from the old days of DH, making a comeback into racing in the form of Enduro competitors. My old mucka Stu Hughes is the first, Stu used to be known as a the short-course hero, having stood amongst none other than Peaty and Rob Warner upon DH British championships podiums of old, in those days he never trained once, he is now in training and hasn’t lost any of the old talent, he will be riding, supported by Commencal, Urge, Royal and Vanity Fitness in the Masters.
Next up is a rider who used to put the fear of God into other riders, also a top UK Elite DH rider of old, Lewis King. Now Lewis is definitely a larger than life character and one chap you don’t want to argue with, his reputation used to go before him! Lewis, now a Vetaran, has managed to bag some UK XC Vets overall National Points wins, he is fitter than a butcher’s dog and with his ex-British GP Motocross background too, he has what it takes to win, he is already my favorite for the Vets win.
Next in the mix is another top pro DH rider, Mr Smooth, Tim Ponting. Tim used to race for Animal Orange back in the day, as one of the UK’s fastest riders, no-one could hit a jump like Tim, also from MX background, he recently did a photo-shoot with The Don at Bike Park Wales, where, Donny couldn’t believe the skills he still posseses, he too is mega fit and will be gunning for the Veteran win, great for them, gutting for me!
Last but definitely not least is South Wales’s Gareth Hopkins, now this fella rides with pure aggression, he has power and the determination of an SAS fighter. He often used to win the Junior UK DH races, packing in just after making the jump up into Elite, making his mark in the UK,s world of Moto-Enduro, winning several Expert races. Gareth too, will want nothing but a win in the Masters Category.
ENDURO MAG RACE PRESENCE
Myself, Doc Ward and Trev shall be gracing you all with our presence at lots of the races, reporting on all we participate in. For anyone with any race or rider info for the next installment of ‘British Racing Posts’, please feel free to approach us at the meetings or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any related info worthy of a feature. Plus this season we want to cover the more ‘grass roots’ kind of stuff, so any local timed events, fun small DH tracks or mates races, crazy Enduro riders or track builders, up and coming Juniors, etc, please tell us, as we would love to come along and report on some real characters! Plus we really need to do more features on the ladies of the sport, any of you who would like to share your stories, give us a shout.
“Don’t forget to stay tuned to Roots&Rain www.rootsandrain.com this season, who in addition to their huge DH result database will be bringing you Enduro results, rider comparisons and statistical analysis from across the globe this year”
Words:Jim Buchanan Photos: Doc Ward, Sarah Barrett, Jim Buchanan, Ali Kerr, Pro Ride Guides media