Pedalhounds Multistage MTB Enduro Round 1 – Jane Brockman

Pedalhounds Multistage MTB Enduro Round 1 - Jane Brockman

After an early start Sunday saw me arrive at the Land of Nod, a private estate in Hampshire for the first round of the Pedalhounds Multistage MTB Enduro.  My first ever Enduro I had been planning to do it with a friend who unfortunately broke his hand the week before (heal fast Bradley).  To say I was nervous would be an understatement, I had no idea what to expect and whether it would be beyond my abilities.  The Enduro consisted of 4 timed stages per lap with 3 laps to be completed, you could complete the stages in any order per lap.

I signed on and got my race number and timing chip and headed off for a course walk, I tagged on behind a couple of people who looked like they knew what they were doing, heading for Stage 2.  I walked down stage 2 thinking this isn’t too bad a flat start then some twisting through the trees as it gradually got steeper but nothing too hairy.  The finish of stage 2 was close to the finish of stage 1 so I followed on and walked up stage 1 from the finish to the start, this was where I started to worry, not far from the bottom of the stage was a steep descent into a small dip it was loose loamy soil and it was as much as I could do to walk up it.  Further up some short steep rollers up and round trees, I’m thinking right just keep some speed up and your momentum will get you up and round – hopefully! A bit of winding through trees and the start straight was upon me.  The start of Stage 1 was the furthest from the Race HQ and was a long way back; it was going to make for a fun transition doing it 3 times over.

Stages 3 and 4 started next to each other, I looked at stage 3 first it twisted through newly planted trees with the odd tree stump to avoid before a grassy weedy off camber descent into a steeper down with a left hander into a flat finish. I walked up stage 4 back to HQ, the top section being similar to stage 3 if a bit more rooty and stumpy, the bottom section more loamy and steeper. 

I was feeling better about things after the course walk with only stage 1 giving me concern. I headed back to the car to chill before the race briefing and start, deciding whether to ride with my hydration pack was my next dilemma as many weren't using them. I decided to go with it for its back protector and I was glad to have a drink after the transition climbs! 

Riders briefed we were off, I decided to head for stage 1 to get it out the way thinking if I couldn't get down it there was no point bothering with the others! I eventually made it there after the long transition including a push up the majority were walking, if my nerves weren't already bad enough there was quite a queue. I finally made it to the gate waiting for the off, the guy in front came off on the first corner, the marshals warned quite a few were. I was cautious in the corner and held on OK with a little twitch.  I cleared the 3 up and round the trees and headed for the steep bit, relieved to find it wasn’t as bad as walking it.  Stage 1 done it was actually my favourite stage.

Photo credit: BigMac Photography

On to stage 2 and all went OK as did the first runs on stages 3 and 4.  First lap done I headed back to the timing tent to upload my times and check that all stages had been counted before heading back out for lap 2.  I decided to go for the same order; conditions had changed slightly with the number of riders, near to 250, and the loose loamy soil.  Stage 2 had changed the most with a lot more exposed roots (I have a bit of a root phobia!) in the top section and the steeper bottom half was a lot looser and more rutted.  On to stage 4 as no queue like there was for stage 3, I started well but got put off by the shout of “Rider” behind me and fudged my line closely followed by another “Rider” they must have started together, I’m not that slow! The only stage of the day I got passed on.  Onto the last stage of the lap, stage 3, a bit more root exposure but a good run with a bit of foot out flat on the grassy off camber section.

Photo Credit: Hannah Crossley

Second lap done I was starting to feel it from the transition climbs and was starving, after uploading my lap I stopped for a quick protein bar and drink, before heading off for the last lap with about an 1 1/2hr to go I knew I was going to cut it fine with the stage 1 queue.  Battling on up the climb to stage 1 for the final time I was greeted by the longest queue of the day, a good 1/2hr+ wait, at least I had time for a Ghost Ship Torq gel while I waited.  Finally off with a good start I messed up the first up to get round the tree must have been getting tired, lucky the photographers had gone!  The rest of the stages went well and I got back exhausted to the timing tent with 5 minutes to spare, although I found out they had extended the cut off due to the queues on stage 1.

I was pleased with my times for my first Enduro I was just happy to be able to complete it all, not everyone did.  What did I learn from the day, a lot including, remember you are being timed straight out of the gate and don’t let up until you across the finish post, pedal like mad on the flat bits you don’t need to pace yourself like an XC race the stage will be over before you know it, try and ride in different locations to get experience of different trail types, like loamy, exposed roots, tight turns, and off cambers.  I’m looking forward to my next Enduro.