Dirt designer Jon Gregory had a bash at an enduro event the other weekend, I know it sounds a bit xc and budgie smuggling-esque but it did have a downhill section designed by Steve Peat, so that’s why it’s here.
Riding 9 to 5.
The Muc-Off 8 Enduro Mountainbike Race.
11th April 2010.
The Muc-off 8 was an all new event. It was held at Pippingford Park estate just south of London in East Sussex. The aim of the event was to complete as many laps of the eight mile cross country course as you could in eight hours. You could ride solo, as a pair or in teams of three or four. About ten days before the event we threw a team of four together and got involved. With Steve Peat registering a time to beat on the DH section of the course during the winter we were intrigued and had to check it out. This was a clever little marketing spin that promised an event that was going to be something a little more than just an eight hour endurance cross country as the name suggested. The main race was being held on the Sunday and the course was open for inspection on the saturday afternoon. We didn’t get there in time to check out what we were letting ourselves in for on the saturday so had to wait till race day to see whether the course held up to the hype.
I was under the impression that a solid week of spring sunshine would at least provide us with some fast, dry and dusty trails. I was wrong. Whilst some of the course was dry a lot of the sections under the trees were waterlogged and boggy, as well as some of the more exposed grassy sections. The course was a mixture of fire roads, muddy landrover tracks, open fields, tight and technical single track, an amazing two to three minute downhill blast and another furious high speed descent towards the end. Most of the climbing was kept to fire roads which was a bit of a slog but the rest of the course was challenging, technical and just plain fun. This was a course that would appeal to a wide range of riders and not just hardcore xc or endurance machines. It was indeed something more than we expected. To complete a lap at speed was definitely hard work and energy intensive but if you were just out for fun then I can’t imagine many better 8 mile loops you could want to do on a mountainbike. Out in the hills with stunning views n’ all. One lap at high tempo was hard enough, but to ride the whole thing solo for 8 hours like some people were doing, effectively completing 8 or 9 laps back to back demands a lot of respect and quickly slams home your own fitness level.
The DH section of the course was well thought out. It was technical enough to entertain more seasoned DH specialists yet mild enough to encourage less experienced riders to push things a little too. On any other day and without the pressure of the competition I could of quite happily pushed back up to the top to session it a few times. There were some good roots, a couple of challenging blind steep drops and a healthy helping of sloppy mud on some of the corners. There were also a couple of high speed berms up top to set you up. Good stuff, just a shame there was a ten second climb out of the base of the descent to the finish line!. 550 people had entered the event and even though a lot of people were good at climbing not everyone was that adept at the downhill stuff. To get a good clean run on the timed downhill section you were going to have to be lucky with the rider traffic. Nobody on our team had a perfectly traffic free run throughout the day and with the organisers talking of trying to double entries next year I could see this as a real problem. Saying that, everybody was in the same boat though and most people got out of the way pretty quickly.
Open Gallery32 Images
There wasn’t a full face helmet or anything with over five inches of travel in sight. I would say that about seventy percent of riders were on hardtails and the rest on short travel full sussers. All I know is that I was thankful for the 140mm of travel out back on the bike I was riding…even though there was a lot of climbing most of the flat singletrack stuff was rooty and rocky. This course was definitely a little more than your standard xc circuit. Fifty percent of riders were wearing tight ‘budgie smuggling’ spandex and looking serious, whilst fifty percent looked a little more relaxed in cargo shorts and loose fitting tops. 99 percent xc lids and 1 percent piss pots. In the battle for hydration I would say it was about fifty percent camelbacks and fifty percent water bottles and cages…. ohh and I felt like the one of the only flat pedal riders there with the split being about 90/10 between clips and flats. There were a few ‘manly’ shaved legs around but not an obscene amount, a healthy mix of men and women and there were quite a few professional looking teams to counter balance quite a few amateur looking outfits. There was also some quality catering on hand to fuel the competitors along with a lot of promotional energy bars and electrolytes being handed out to tired and weary looking riders. All in all a great event and one I want to do again next year. A brilliant vibe to the whole day and with the spirt of competition in the air it made a cracking day out with team members and friends. With lap times and DH times to encourage you to push it faster and harder with each and every loop and with everything recorded in black and white, bragging rights down the pub were safely secured as well.
Colour shots by Marton Honfy – mHonfy.com
Black and White shots by Jon Gregory