The race season may be well and truly over for some but for others the wet, winter season is the perfect opportunity to get out and race in the slop! The victor from the PMBA’s MTB Winter Enduro in Grizedale was Callum Russell who gives us the lowdown of the event below:

Last weekend saw me and many others brush the cob webs off our Enduro machines to go and burn some mince pies off at the PMBA day & night Enduro. Where better to do this than Grizedale forest. Home to a collection of many classic mountain bike trails, single tracks & gnarly downhills, all nestled in the Lakeland fells. I got lost on the way in, and ended up down endless country lanes making it feel like I was entering Mordor. I made it on time for some morning practice and was eager as always, to jump aboard the hoss! Signed on, waited for the rain not to stop and set off with non other than Jim Topliss. A quick morning lap around the forest for practice, back for a cuppa, change of clothes and off again for the day race then the night race. Our plan sounded simple, even time for some hot food in between the 2 race laps.

Time for the day race lap up we went to stage one for racing and it stopped raining, at least for 10 minutes. Stage one involved rocks shaken up with some added rocks, aka Carron Cragg. A true test of line choice with some high speed action. The kind of stage where a smile appears and you forget what you’re doing for the next section as you hope for the best, which is probably why if I remember correctly, the Marshall at the bottom counted 38 punctures! From what I saw each one was accompanied with laughter and banter from fellow opponents telling you about how your tyres pressures are very wrong.

Stage two was just along the fire road so you were still buzzing from stage one. A quick pedal through a big puddle and then you were straight into the fast, flowy single track which shot you straight through a tight gate over the usual Grizedale red route. Which I can only describe as doing a cheeky Scandinavian flick, narrowly missing your bars, a quick close of the eyes and you were through the gate back onto a flat out shoot down to the finish.

PMBA Winter Enduro Action Shot

A pedal over the hills and before you knew it you were at Sculpture Trail-stage 3. This took you back down to the final trail centre red with a lung busting sprint. This was the tough one in terms of pedalling, but was certainly made worth it after you had just done some steep techy switch-backs through the trees. Just before you came onto the trail centre and out of the tech, there was one particular puddle in which seemed to be mentioned quite a few times between riders, especially as you had big Duncan egging you on to pedal into it. A bit like the scene off The Vicar of Dibley or so Jim said!

It came to the end of the day race and I had finished 2nd behind Elliot Heap. I was happy to come back with a solid time and I knew that in the dark this is where time would be lost or gained. I was keen to get back out there.

Night lap time and I put on another 3 pairs of socks, good job I was lucky at Christmas! I was keen to use my new lights from and S1 would surely be a test, racing this in the dark would be an interesting one. Carron Cragg was the one I was the stage I was most wary about in the dark but was the one I actually felt most confident when on the track. Strangely this is what us folk would call ‘fun’ . The lights definitely did the trick, lighting the way for a stage win as well as blinding a few spectators!

Another blast down stage 2 but this time with a very near crash. This is when I realised things could get very quickly out of hand, riding fast in the dark. I felt lucky to come away with another stage win on that one.

PMBA Winter Enduro Action Shot2

The pedal to stage 3 seemed to get even shorter this time. I felt most confident on 3 and knew there was time to be made especially in the dark. Once I was on the stage corners seemed to be popping up out of nowhere, that I couldn’t remember from earlier on in the day!
Every stage in the dark had be followed by “did you know what was going on down there Jim?” “Nope” was his answer, but I knew he will have been laughing all the way down.

A quick breather while transponders were handed in before getting in line for the bike wash, by this point everyone seemed to forget it was pouring it down with rain. It was a hose down of the bikes and bodies, you hose me, I’ll hose you sort of thing.

And there we have it, what a mega day out with your mates and if you get lucky win some prizes on the way! The Wet Lettuce boys couldn’t of asked for better results with Jim 4th in first event as a senior and with me taking 1st in my first elite race – bumped up after winning the PMBA seniors last year. Most importantly it had been another excuse to go ride your bikes down some proper tracks. A Massive thanks to everyone that got involved for another flawless event, it takes a certain kind of organising team to run an event like that in that weather. Looking forward to the next already!

Find more information on the series on their Facebook-Page.

Words: Callum Russell Photos: JWDT Photography

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