Gisburn trails is set in the beautiful heart of Lancashire, I knew nothing about the place, as I had never been before; it is a full-on trail centre with great picturesque surroundings, which was apparent at least 15 minutes before our arrival.
We being myself and Vini, plus my best mate Myles Harris, a true Enduro virgin, I had finally (after a year of blabbing on to him about how good they were) persuaded my hairy faced friend to give the sport a try. It’s great to go to an Enduro race with someone who’s never done it before, giving them the heads-up on the day’s proceedings prior to racing. The event was put on by Michael Marsdon of Borderline Events, he has run several DH’s, but this was his first dabble at the superior sport of champions! The format was a one day affair, three stages, practice am, racing pm, along the lines of the Mini Enduros, but with no start times, just having to get to each stage, when you wanted during racing, swipe your transponder top and bottom, then move onto the next one, simple.
We chose to travel up saturday morning and grab some practice with Empire Cycles boss-man Chris and Employee John for a bit of local knowledge, then not bother with sunday’s practice. The place, it has to be said, is pretty cool, definitely worth a non race day visit again. We sussed out the stages on the saturday and gave them all 2 blasts each, as the whole loop was only round the short 12 mile region, according to the dreaded Strava!
Stage 1 – This was tight and twisty through the trees at the top, real trail-centre type stuff, it flowed, but still needed the pedal strokes to keep moving, up a short fire-road, then it was down more open trail-centre type stone single-track, trying to keep off the brakes for some of the blind corners till the end.
Stage 2 – The top of this was awesome, a rock smashers dream, as fast as you dare, straight down the long loose rocky trail, then through some fresh-cut natural soil, jumping small root sections and hammering through tyre popping rock gardens. Next up was flat out into the black abyss of a great whooped out woodland section, preying for your eyes to adjust faster that the speed of the up-coming roots and dirt. Out of the trees, over a rickety bridge, fire-road, more trail-centre open stone paths, with a great rooty set of tricky steep switchback,s then a real nasty uphill section that I really wasn’t ready for. In my race run this required 1st gear even with the XX1, several people just ran out of steam, over the steep bit then followed a slacker uphill (lungs gasping), a final fast stone trail through the trees to the finish, real tough!
Stage 3 – This was pure trail-centre open stone single-track, with lots of dips and hollows you had to hold speed to get through, pretty easy in practice, when not pushing hard, but this ended up being the stage that seemed to burn most riders out in racing, with the requirement of constant pedalling to go fast. The end of this section saw so many riders on the floor, waiting for normal breathing to resume.
The sunday blessed us with more perfect weather, blue skies and perfect temperatures for riding. On Arrival the place was buzzing more like a race site than a trail centre, We met up with my old race buddy from back in the day, BMX and 4X Brit legend Martin Ogden, as he was having his 1st blast at Enduro, I hadn’t seen him for 12 years! We all shot off up the track, following Oggy (martin) on his odd looking Bulgarian bike, which I had never seen before, talking of times of old. Its amazing how when you get back to riding with people after so many years it just seems like yesterday, Oggy still running on the power of Milk and fags, brilliant!! Myles was buzzing, after his 1st stage he was hooked, line and sinker, already asking when the next one was, fantastic, Enduro seems to be able to do that to people, much like DH in it’s early years. Also out on his 1st ride since a very nasty concussion crash, was Hope’s gaffer Simon Sharp, with lots of Hope proto goodies adorning his green graphicked up rig! Talking of Hope, their top rider, Sam Flanagan was present, with him and Lee Kermode being odds-on favourites for the win, Lee with his 1st ride in the Pros.
Sarah Newman (Helen Gaskell Coaching) took ladies top spot ahead of Helen Gaskell (Scott UK) just going to prove Helen doesn’t need to coach her any more! 3rd lady was Angela Coates (The Development Racing). U18s saw Joe Harrison (MDE Bikes/Shaman Racing) lead over Dan Farley (Kona Grassroots) then Peter Hook (Cyclescene). Just my luck, it seemed most of the UK’s fastest Vets turned up, Marcus Jones (Fast Fossil Racing) led over team-mate Richard Ellis then Gary Britton (Team Brits Racing) in 3rd. Hope’s Simon Sharp was chuffed with his 6th (usually Grand Vet) one place ahead of me, with his 1st ride back. In Masters Matthew Howson won with Jan Czugalinski (Ride-On Bikes) 2nd and Nigel Pilling 3rd. Matt Rushton (Hope Factory Racing) was fastest Senior, followed closely by Ben Clarke then Matt Ineson.
When it came down to the Pros, it was all to play for, but Lee Kermode took the honours ahead of Jack Reading (Jack Reading Racing) Sam Flanagan down in 3rd after suffering a puncture in stage 2, and finally Paul Oldham (Hope Factory Racing in 4th. Looking at the Pros times, all except Sam had got a fastest in stage result, now that’s close racing!
There were 280 riders, with another 100 turned away, this for a small regional race, just stamping the popularity status, assuring the fact that Enduro is getting so massive. This event was run smooth as silk, with its no pressure format, and there are more planned for the future. Big thanks to Borderline Events and Gisburn TrailCentre for hosting the event, see you next time!
Words: Jim Buchanan | Pics: npmphotos.co.uk & Jim Buchanan