Words: Aidan Bishop
Old meets new is how it felt this past weekend for another round of the Pedalhounds enduro series. Both Pedalhounds and Aston Hill are names from the racing past in the south of England, but here I was again in 2017 (well over a decade since I last raced here) racing a Pedalhounds event on the old familiar ground of Aston Hill bike park just outside Wendover in the Chiltern hills, this time though the racing style was a little different.
A sold out entry field meant 240 riders gathered to ride and race together for the Pedahounds enduro format of three short laps, this time consisting of three timed stages, to be completed in any order within the 4.5 hours allocated to complete them in. Stage 1 was completely on non-bike park trails, so basically narrow walking path, pedally along the top with corners that slowed you but didn’t kill your speed completely, and then just when you couldn’t sprint anymore it finished with some nice fresh turns on loamy ground to the finish.
Stage 2 started on similarly little used paths before dropping onto the Ricochet trail which was fast and chalky before finishing through another couple of fresh corners.
Stage 3 started next to Aston’s famous bombhole, but fresh loamy turns before dropping onto existing trail that is the top of the red and black runs, pedal along the top section and over many exposed roots (it’s got way more exposed since the last time I rode here!) and then down what I know as the XC loop downhill where you had to be cautious so as not to overshoot corners here.
All stages turned out to be of similar length timewise, from 1min 15 upwards depending on your speed level. So all said and done you had 9 runs to race down and then get yourself back to the top by pushing, pedalling or… sitting smugly on your e-bike and spinning and grinning back up the hill! The e-bike category is growing each round, might have to give it a go soon!
This time round I went with my wife and young children as she wanted to get back riding again. With this format you can just about manage it, however snoozing through my alarm and getting the kids fed and out the house meant no time to walk any stages (pre riding isn’t allowed which gives more of a level playing field) and I got there, signed on and kitted up just in time to set off with the second wave of riders. I tried to get all my laps done quickly (but not go crazy on the climbs back up) so my wife could go and ride her laps. I got all mine done without any big mishaps or crashes and then rushed back to switch over and send her off riding whilst I took my daughter around to cheer her on.
Chasing my daughter around the hill we managed to cheer on mummy, I didn’t leave her enough time to complete all 3 laps sadly but she got a good ride in and was content to be riding again. I dibbed my transponder in and checked my times, they were consistent so I was happy I had ridden ok. Now it was time to wait for other riders to finish their laps and hand in their transponders and get their times and watch the screen for the results to be constantly updated.
I had seen Tim Ponting was on the entry list so I thought it may be battle with him if I wanted to win, fortunately I got the better of him and took the Elite win from Tim and then Aidan Burrill. Tim’s wife Jo Ponting won the women’s 18-39 category ahead of Georgia Leslie and Katie Sweeting. Seniors was Daniel Locks ahead of Tom Whant and James Stapleton, Masters category saw some familiar (but older) faces again on the podium with Nick Platt taking the win (and fastest time of the day!) from Ross Searle and Richard Wood.
So another good event in the bag form the Pedalhounds team, next round is 9th July, worth a go!