Bit of a long one this…
Poppy day and 11 o clock used to see me standing quietly in the school playground for 2 minutes, this year and 11 o clock saw me along with 200 odd fellow enduro riders lining our bikes up on the start for a 3 hour enduro race. it was quite surreal really, this particular track was about 3 minutes up the road from our house and was criss crossed by our downhill track, crazy wobbler. Turning up at 10 am, frost thinly layering the ground, the normally deathly quiet forest awoken by hundreds of roaring choking moto bikes being prepped for war, it was madness of the worst kind and we couldnt wait.
Topping up on super unleaded, fuel and dry gloves nestled safely in the pit stop, suited and booted, i wheeled my bike to the start and climbed aboard. The WOR (wirral off road) have changed their format so all riders race together, novice/beginners/women etc only doing 2 hours and clubman and expert doing 3. So everyone starts together which in itself promises to be gnarly, 200 riders all setting off within minutes, any kind of death move goes to get ahead! So everyones lined up along the fireroad, i could feel the slight flickering of butterfly wings in my tummy, i hadnt done an enduro since the start of the season and wondered how my injuries would hold up…. it was so so quiet, people sat atop their trusty steeds, then a big air horn sounded and it was 11 o clock.
We sat for 2 minutes, i hope everyone was thinking about the boys who risked everything back in the day, but to be honest i doubt it, i know i was though. This seems like a good time to mention a book i read the other day, its only short but id say to anyone read it, really i would. Private Peacefull by Michael Morpurgo. It really brings home how horrendous the war must have been and i actually shed a real live tear at the end.
Anyway, 2 minutes silence been and gone and the warm up board went up, the noise is immense. I always get so excited at this point, as it goes from silent to raging in seconds, everyone revving up, the trees holding the sound in, the smell of it, then silence again, for a moto race silence features heavily. This silence is different tho, the next noise you hear will be race noise, 2 hours or however long it takes of noise, wide open, desperate noise.
Stand behind our bikes, flanked by tracy mosely and a young dude on a 250f on the other side, i was ready to race, way down the line we heard the expert class roar to life and away, then the clubman class, then it was us, i jumped onto my bike, kicked her over, slammed her into gear and away, there were dudes pulling out in front of me left right and center, i held my elbows high and just held on, out onto the fire road and i could see my first victim to pick off, the need to pass people on that first straight urges you on, with the roost getting slammed into my arms and head and the thought of being stuck behind people who cant ride a bike in the technical woods had me throwing down the moves, sliding into the bog at the side, head down to avoid the roost, head to head with this dude with the first 90 degree turn coming at us fast, knowing that if i held it open that bit longer and braked real late then id pass him and up into the first woods, spotting lines rather than waiting behind the strugglers.
the first lap is what i love, your’e fresh, the need to overtake to get clean shots at the downhills, the eagerness to spot secret lines and the ease with which you can throw the bike around is awesome. When you pass a load of dudes all stuck in the roots and ruts because they just follow each other like sheep is a gooood feeling.
After 3 laps, about 20 mins a lap,rain set in, i was starting to feel it, not knowing where the other girls were but knowing i was in front kept me excited but my arms were starting to pump and id used all 3 of my tear offs, could hardly see shit, it was wicked to be racing the guys instead of being on my own, i found myself wishing iwas on a bigger bike, the frustration at being passed on a straight by a sprayer then being stuck behind them for ages on the tech bits is well bad, after i lapped tracy i knew i could take it easy, and thank god!
The last few laps i started to fall apart, instead of riding like a race, throwing it around, every corner and climb as fast as i could i found myself just trying to ride it, there were a few hard as shit climbs out on the moors, proper rutted up, wet and slidy and littered with men, where all you can do is choose your line then pin it as fast as you can up, knowing that to stop or slow down is certain death. My chain kept coming off too, i knew it was too slack but couldnt be bothered taking a link out and the tensioners were full bore, thatll teach me! I was pretty scared putting it back on around a corner when i knew someone could come round and take me out, when your wide open up a hill climb, barely making it and your effing chain comes off, stall the bike, i jsut sat there at one point wondering how i was gunna manage.
I can honestly say it was horrendous, i was getting pretty aggro and i caught this looser up, obviously couldnt ride his bike for tuppence, he’d look around to see if i was still there then open his bike up, roost me to fuck and swap his way down the fire road fish tailing from side to side, one point he hit a rock and got the biggest swap on ever, it could have been very painfull but he held it, i found myself shouting and screaming at him, yelling “get down you son of a bi**h” i was chasing him massively now, trying all i could to pass him in the woods but he was to sketchy i was scared to get near him, there was one section which was like 2 foot deep wet shitty clay, pretty steep and long too, i knew i had to pass him by then so i did what i always did, held it open untill the last minute into a turn and ha ha ha ha passed him. I was stoked, flat out thru the shitty bit, wide open along this rut, my bars turned and i was too tired to hold it, over the bars i went, straight to my head in the deepest clay ever, i was covered, could barely stand up it was so heavy, hands caked, bars caked, chain off, bike upside down, that was tough. To pick it up, chain on, kicking her over with the heaviest boots then paddling up the next section, rocky rutted wet shit, i really had to dig deep then, snot and spit and swear words pouring out, not ladylike in the slightest!
Eventually got to the flat before the moors section, only half a lap untill i could change my gloves, i actually thought to myself, ‘i wonder why we do this’ everyone looked in a similar state, and i realised that the aptly named WOR races are just that, wor (or war) and all this on remembrance Sunday. The last lap was probably the hardest sporting thing ive ever done, the pain in the thumb from my crash was so intense i was growling the whole way round, both wrists felt like twigs about to snap and the track was ruined. each massive braking bump shot pain round my body, it was all i could do to hold on but when i reached the finish i was strangely dissappointed.actually, bull, i wasnt in the slightest.
It took me 35 mins to do that last lap, so a grand total of 2 hours 35 mins at wor. I got a puncture, the trophy for best lady, and i got the bug for a big bike. Gee got the clubman no. 2, donny got a front puncture, impossible to carry on with, and affy rolled his tyre off the rim. We all agreed it was the best track we’d ridden. We also came away with a blow out on the van, aching bodies, kidneys shaken almost out, and an already growing excitement for the next one. If youve never done one and you own a bike, shame on you, and if you dont own a bike go and help out. i used to love helping pull people out of bogs and claering new lines through the trees for deperate riders.
Enduro season is truly upon us.