Grizedale Day & Night Enduro 2016
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Last weekend saw the first Enduro race of the year for IMB. Based in the north of England the local races are organised by PMBA and Borderline Events and are put on throughout the year. Having raced throughout the UK over the years, I had failed to make a local event and thought it was high time to get involved. Back in Autumn when the sun was still shining I entered thinking that a race on the second weekend in January sounded like the perfect start to a year’s riding. Added to this it was a day and night enduro, meaning twice the riding and therefore surely twice the fun.
I won’t bore you with how wet/cold/windy it was, but the day dawned slightly less than tropical in temperatures and perhaps motivation wasn’t at an all time high. This however, was precisely the reason for entering, and there is nothing like the commitment of a race to get you out of bed and on a bike.
As usual once we had arrived at Grizedale and signed on everything fell into place nicely. Meeting up with mates after Christmas and getting out for a practice lap of the three stages for the day. The trails were great, with a nice mix of rocks, roots and mud, all combined with a healthy dose of pedalling and some suitably steep gradients. With a quick change of clothes (it was a three outfit day!) we headed out for our race lap and a thankful gap in the weather gave us some respite from the rain. The trails were by this time pretty wild and rewarded those willing to carry speed whilst not always pointing in the direction they wanted to go. Puddles increased in size to the point that it felt like speed and confidence were imperative to avoid a swimming session, whilst rocks still were sniping at tyres and causing tens of punctures. All in all, we had some challenging conditions but spirits were high and riders were having a great time.
After race lap it was feeding time and a bit of rest and light-sorting ready for the night lap. Nothing different for this lap other than the lack of sun, all three stages were to be repeated just as in the day. It was clear there had been a bit of a reduction in numbers as we set off, with some riders choosing to only take part in the day, but most of the field remained to do battle with the night. Fortunately (I think) it’s dark by 5pm so riders were underway swiftly and headed out amongst a dazzling array of lights. Accidentally looking into a pack of racers would do some serious damage to your retinas, light technology has seriously moved on in recent years.
The night lap continued much as the day had, with riders still in good spirits, but this time you couldn’t tell who you were talking to so it made for a very friendly affair. Lighting set-ups were compared and no matter how powerful you think your lights are, there is always someone who comes up behind looking like they have harnessed the power of several suns. Perhaps race times should be divided by the number of Lumens used by a rider for a real measure of night riding ability?
The mud and rain continued well into the night lap and conditions were really challenging. The added pressure of lights chasing you from the rider behind added to the feeling of excitement and pushed you to ride faster and faster. For my final stage I was gradually reeled in by the rider behind, his light becoming brighter and brighter as the distance between us reduced, encouraging me to dig deeper and find that little bit more pace to keep him at bay. These little personal battles and challenges throughout the day are what these races are all about, and the motivation to keep riding and racing regardless of the time of year or the conditions. The moral of this story of rain and mud is to find more excuses to ride, and support your local races!