PMBA Enduro series, Round 1 Gisburn Forest.
Race report by Kelly Gott
If you ever fancy entering an enduro I would recommend Guisburn Forest, it has something for everyone, from small to medium and large drops, fast flowing trail centre tracks or greasy, technical off camber rooty madness!!
I went into this event feeling quietly confident, I knew most of the tracks as this was my local so I could really push myself. This may have been the reason for my big crash! I’m struggling to find the happy medium between pushing to do my best and over doing it and taking too many risks. I mean you need to take risks to do well but I’ve learnt its more about knowing your game plan, committing to that plan and choosing great lines. I am fairly new to racing and I’m still in the beginner’s mind of just go as fast as you can and hope for the best (not the best tactics as I found out).
The day started on a high meeting up with friends at 8.30am with the sun shining and every one in good spirit for the day. Obviously there were a few mechanicals, my boyfriend and team mate Tony Kay managed to somehow loose the pads from his back brakes, and another fellow rider Drew got two punctures before we even finished practice.
Practice was over and with all our bike problems sorted it was time to head back for a much needed rest and refuel ready for the race. By this point we had already ridden 21k and the thought of doing it all over again but at race pace was a bit daunting.
1.55pm race time!! Now to make that all important decision, clips or flats?!?!?! I have a never ending battle deciding this. Most sections I found better being clipped in, but I kept having to dab in the woods and once I had done that I couldn’t get clipped back in again. As this wasted a lot of time I decided to play it safe and go back to flats.
Stage 1 and the rooty madness begins, dropping into the woods was fast and you could get some good speed if you took the right lines. The track was tight and very rooty, now I’m not the best when it comes to roots, this is where practice helps as I knew which parts to aim for and when to be light on my bike to avoid hitting the deck. With this in mind there were still some parts that I couldn’t ride as the mud was so thick and deep. My plan was to jump off before hand and run as fast as I could with my bike. Now I hadn’t practice this, but seemed perfect in my head. Reality kicked in and it became one of those nightmares where you’re running but not getting anywhere. To make matters worse when I jumped off my bike to run the mud was so deep and thick it pull my shoe off (AHHHHHHHH). I then had to stop drop my bike, run back for my shoe and try and get it back on my foot before the next rider caught me. Eventually I got going again and hit a fun part where you could get some good speed before turning left and dropping into a cheeky bomb hole just before the finish.
After catching our breath my group then headed up to stage two, this was quite a frustrating loop as you had to ride back up to stage 1 again and then some. There were long ques for both stage 1 and 2, although some people found these frustrating I quite appreciated the break.
Stage 2 I can only describe as a massive obstacle course! It was fast with tight corners, big rocks, trees, and tree stumps galore to try and weave yourself round. Part way through was a fun rocky decent that put a smile back on your face, this came out onto a fire road sprint before heading back into the woods. The second woods section was just as fast and flowy as the first, with a bit of an up at the end which caught quite a few people out. Regrouping with my fellow riders we had a short break before tackling the awful long climb up to Stage 3.
Quite a few energy cubes later and we were at Stage 3, the SLAB also known as big foot!! This was by far my favourite stage as it was short and fast. At the top you could either go straight down big foot or take the chicken run to the side, going off big foot gave you loads of speed onto the trail centre section so was by far the best choice to make. The corners were a test of nerves, who can go the fastest without touching the brakes. I have to say I struggled not to tap the brakes a little, the corners were so loose and there was not much if any berm to catch you. Most people did fly down this section though, and everyone had massive grins at the end.
Now onto stage 4, which was only a hop skip and a jump from the bottom of stage 3, quite a blessing after the last slog. This section was hot on the peddles but by far my strongest stage, I knew I could do really well on it.
Setting off I was full of confidence and had a clear game plan in my head, regrettably this game plan like in stage 1 was unpractised. There’s a drop at the start that turns into some nasty braking bumps, but soon opens out onto the legendary berms of hully gully. It was all going great until I hit the small section of switch backs in the middle of the stage. These had not been a problem in practice, but having listened to my fellow riders it seemed clear that straight lining through the middle of them was the fastest option.
I did attempt this in a much slower practice run to see if it was possible but for some reason at high speed I doubted myself. This doubt then caused me to make a last minute decision and revert back to hitting the corners as normal, which at race speed I found impossible. I soon found myself in a heap on the floor with my bike… OUCH!! I immediately untangled myself and just jump back on my bike to set off again. Sill quite baffled by my crash I hadn’t actually paid attention to where the track was going next, it was a steep drop which veered to the left… I think you can guess where this is going. Yep, I chucked myself off in the wrong direction and no sooner had I been back on the bike I found myself plummeting down the side of the gully and landing head first into the stream below.
This was now game over for me, bye bye podium, my goal from this point was getting back to the track and making it to the bottom. I waved to my friend Katie Clarke as she flew passed and just laughed at myself. Eventually I got back on my bike and trundled down to the end with my twisted handle bars.
As for the rest of the riders this part of the course was brilliant, it really opens out with a few drops and two streams to blast through before hitting the finish. My amazing friends then fix me up and with a massive pat on the back I was ready to take on stage 5.
This final stage was a downhill line, I had been a little worried about this stage in practice as the drops were gnarly. Putting a brave face on I tried to shake off my crash and focus on hitting the drops well and getting to the finish line.
Starting in the woods at the top of the DH line were some off camber rocky descents, a few sharp corners later and I’m flying down the drops getting some great air. You then went over a fun table jump, which sent you to a nasty rooty corner. I had crashed on this corner several times in practice, remembering what team rider Tony had told me I stayed light and tried to hit them with as much speed as possible, I managed to nail it (mini fist pump). I was now on the home straight, dropping back into the woods and over a few little drops that came out onto another very short road sprint. Once over the road its back into the woods and into another very rooty section with plenty of line choices to choose from. The last part came out onto a really off camber rooty banking, I tried to keep on the high line so not to end up in the mud bath at the bottom. I kept high as long as I could but just a twitch of the brakes and off I was again. No worries though as I was only racing myself now, I jumped up and peddled as hard as I could to that glorious finishing line!!!
Although I didn’t do well results wise coming 12th out of 18 I had a blast competing against some very fast ladies. Well done to team rider Tony Kay coming in 16th out of 120!!! A massive thanks to my Team TRG and sponsors GT and Flare clothing for the support, and to Mike Marsden and Kev Duckworth for hosting the event. Will be going into my next race with a better mind set and a change of strategy, fingers crossed I will be much closer to the podium at the next race.
Tony kay race report.
Entered this race last minute on the friday as weekend weather looked good and race organiser Mike Marsden was kind enough to get me a spot.
So turned up sunday morning 8am carpark already full with racers. Found myself a parking spot and started to set up, smiling as i pulled the kona process 153 dl out of my car. Had the bike 4 weeks and still brings a big smile to my sexy face every time i see her as she is so dialed and smooth to ride.
Once set up bumped into 2 friends from masters and decided to do the loop together in practice.
Stage one was quite easy smooth single track into berms that lasted 40 secs onto a fireroad, and yes it was up hill…… for-ever! Then it lead onto hully gully a fast fun track, massive berms and quite flowy no drama.
Stage 2 was the newly done up dh track starting with the leap of faith ( a double ) then over a fire road onto the dh track with lots of drop offs then into the woods. The woods was super nice and loads of grip thanks the kenda tyre up front digging in deep.
Stage 3 started super fast over loose rocks into a tight left hand with no berm into pure dirty wet peaty mud! Had to really remember to get the gear right for this corner. Then it carried on for around 2 mins of pure bog and roots in the woods super fun and techy. Once clear of this it opened up onto a fast single track had to get the cranks in!
With no practice on the sat i knew the other guys would have a advantage over me. Once racing started i didnt go crazy tried to keep it smooth and steady. Kinda paid off as got 14th out of 109. Quite happy but i know deep down could of broke top 10. How-ever didnt want to push to hard and risk a crash as 3 nationals to hit in may and need to be 100% fit for them.
Every enduro race im getting better and better results, the kona process has defo helped me reach these results.
Massive thanks to all our sponsors means alot.