No Fuss DH Enduro part 2 (my race day)

Yes part 2 my race day.  Think you all know the score on the Enduro on the Fort William world cup track,  6 hours to cram in a sprint start for your bike,  ride uphill a few miles,  chop in at the big wall-ride then bag as many runs as you can in whats left of 6 hours.

This year i couldn’t get up there early,  so would be doing the track blind and hoping not too much had changed.  I left the high plains of Grimsby about 4am,  scotch corner, then Penrith, blast through Glasgow and a speed trap… up to Stirling chop over to Crianlarich then hit up for breakfast,  well worth dropping in just for this,  and a reminder that mid August will see the SDA race up there.  Not as long as the WC track but savage !



Fueled up we get to the fort about 12ish,  no time for track inspection,  or a test run,  instead i take the time to chat with others, catch up with some faces and have a laugh at some of the sprinter set ups (wedged shocks).  I have done about 50 runs over the last few years so know the track,  there are however a few changes that i haven’t seen but i will have to deal with them in run 1,  not the best prep for this track,  but the only way it was going to happen this year.  Also the weather,  been sat roasting in a car for several hours,  and it’s really hot now,  so much for being overcast/cloudy today,  it’s blue sky and roaring sun over the wet and wild last two years up there.   So find Frazer, Chloe and Spook and sign in,  then build up the bike.

Pete Scullion (wee man) Hotlinesman on the groundenjoying the weather (rare for Scotland) and making most of morning practice,  yep get there early and open practice in the morning,  but dont do too much as some damaged the bikes early,  go for some slow roll downs checking out lines and where the blind drops are.  40mins pre-race someone was running around trying to borrow a spare back wheel as they had ripped the spokes out in practice.  Bare minimum for this race in spares is a spare set of wheels all booted and ready to roll.  Last year i gave my spare rear Q/R to someone,  but trying to blag a whole wheel…he was directed to the bike hire to see if they could respokehim,  never found out what happened,  out before the start,  some only make 1 run,  it really is hard on bikes up at the Fort.

Rider 22 Joe Krejbich (9runs 79th)  nice green Dialled Alpine,  we also had Sam Holdsworth on his Black  Evil sov (10runs 62nd),  Jesse Wigman on his Black Spesh P3 (12runs 7th) andme on the Black Atomic Pimp2 with a lowly 7 runs and 94th this year.   When you lookthrough the times against the bike being used,  well my best of 8.54 then mostly 9.20+  that’s not too shabby.   I thought the track was harder slower in places but faster on the motorway,  in the past Jesse has been aroundthe 5.50 mark this year he was floating 6.22+  with 3 runs at 6.27 !  factor in we have a slower start/finish gate (no light-beams) the track is more beat up for us being after the big races and the direct line route, the one open to the public may well be slightly longer and slower than the WC version,  i dontknow,  either way i know a lot that would be happy with a low 6min time on a big hit bike,  let alone a beat up hardtail.  Alastair Maclennan was knocking out 5.26 run times and he is a veteran.  So factor in no WC support or superfit athletes on factory bikes that only have to survive 1 race run.   Everyone runs the race in there own style and the bike has to last.

A view from the way up during the race,  2 riders heading for the deer fence crossing.  So to the race then.

The start.   It’s hot, i am in full armour, with wrist supports and this year i got me a neck roll to stop my head getting thrown about on the boulders.  The foam neck roll retains heat,  i am sweating lots without doing anything.   I have better gear ratios this year, i have a 27t over the 21t of last year,  the climb will be piss easy,  i made over 50 places last year at the start.   The heat kills me,  and i die on the ride up,  not just me, others are finding it hard going,  i quickly drop down the pack and end up pushing.  My effective race is over at the start, in runs you need everything to get from the top to the motorway,  there you can tuck in and cruise down.  I make it to the wall ride,  several having a rest already,  drop the saddle and launch down the track,  i am hanging and it shows.

Run 1.  First run there is a queue,  i can see SamsEvil on it’s way up,  i am back marker for HT.   As we  uplift  i get to see others having trouble with a change in the track,  i know whats coming.  From the start it’s fast andfun over the first hip through the berms with a washboard effect going on,  the boardwalks, then the boulders and rocks then spoon up the drop off and stall,  quick look, back on keep right roll it and away.  The new exit from the woods is faster than before andis quite fun, a table witha massive down-slope gives way to much speed without trying,   scary fast fun.  at the bottom i always keep hard right,  there’s a smoothroll-able line round the first jump at the finish, you can still spoon it up and that will put you straight into the fence.   After some close encounters the first year here i keep off the main line so no one lands on me.  Down in 9.28.

Run 2.  Started well,  until i got to the deer fence crossing,  bit too much back brake,  the crossing grid is well polished and i come through sideways,  front wheel through the rocks,  back wheel slams the rocks,  i manage to hold the bike on track but wash out and stall and get a punch in the nuts as well,  about 4 people are hanging about already here having a rest.   I carry on… i have rimmed the wheels a few times but catch something fast and pinch flat the front,  i am flat on the approach to the wall drop,  the marshall orders me off track here andi run down the footpath trying to carry the bike,  get my clock stopped then fix the bike. Down in 10.31.

Run 3.  Started by hanging on to the bike out of the window as it got jolted loose,  after clearing 2 more towers i decide it wont fall off.  Riders nightmare losing the bike on the way up !  For me run 3 is a blinder, i swapped front wheels to a wider 35mm dmr backline rim with a Conti Kasier fitted, from the narrower 27mm DT ES rim with the single ply WTB Prowler…ok lesson learnt forget single plys here.  The front end is more stable now as the DMR wheel is a custom build and much stiffer,  maybe  some tyre roll before as well,  but things are much better.  Down in 8.54.  (best ever is 8.13 on the prowlers as well)

People have dropped out already,  i had spare brake fluid but the blokes rear caliper was damaged enough to be unfixable there = race over no back brake.  If the bike can be made to roll andstop most will try to keep going,  you don’t need gears or a chain.  On the way up with my bike hanging badly i noticed the other bike had lost 2 chain-ring bolts,  he also pointed out a bent pedal as well.  You see bits start to litter the track from a few runs in as well.   Quick links on chains will rattle off,  been there done that,  you can tell,  bits of chain means it was smashed on a rock and cut,  a whole chain means the quick link has rattled off !

Run 4.  Not bad,  things starting to hurt now.  I get well out of shape and put the bike through a hole which nearly throws me off,  my left ankle took the brunt of the impact and now hurts…post race inspection i appear to have a crack in the left crank arm as well.   As my neck hurts and ankle hurt i deep freeze them,  get some go again.  Down in 9.46.

Big up to outlaw-riders for the photo,  the deer fence crossing is right behind me,  i am using the ramp as i am hanging at this point, and you are landing in rocks so lots can go wrong here,  and still a fair bit of brutal track to go to the smoother motorway.  

He’s having a look, you can tell from the angle of his helmet…  i think the girls where trying to show were they got midge bites or something.

Run 5.  Slacking off now as way too hot and knackered,  i deep freeze my neck again and also do my fingers (mistake)  forgot the deep heat this year.  The bike is holding together really well and is nice andstable at speed,  with more pre-race prep i could have dragged the back wheel further,  i needed to mod the chain tug to achieve this but didn’t have the time or tools.  Still the little Pimp2 coped really well, considering all the botched landings andholes i found.  Run 5 apart from pain went quite well,  Vaughan overtook me,  followed some else who took the old now dead endline to the motorway, i pass V trying to push back onto the track, he then undertakes on the big hip jump under the tower,  i try to stay withhim,  as i hit the table i see him take off over the double….standing upright with the bars to his chest,  i brake as it don’t look like he will land it and i don’t want to ride over him,   somehow he lands it and keeps going  (think he was gear-less as well, again ! )  I also spot a pump near the finish,  it’s mine it fell off,  Frazer hops over the fence to get it for me, so lost it found it,  then i promptly loose it again next run.   Down in 9.26.

Run 6.  Strangely i think i am passing quite a few people,  the track is quieter now as people settle into things and some drop out,  you notice more bits of bike in the track,  then i spot a blue crankbros multi tool,  i have one of those…and in blue… quick pat on the pocket…it is mine,  stop the bike grab the tool,  marshall thinks i have crashed and shouts down to me,  i wave andzip off again thinking i have all my tools,  the pump is long gone somewhere up beyond the deer fence.  Down in 9.26.Run 7.  Things go tits up big time.  Ok the scene in the photo,  the lad in the start gate has started his clock, at the same time Red Flags came up,  my bike is lying on the floor.  The Red Flag is not a quickie,  and very soon it goes from only us 2 to a queue.  Tim Sadler there screaming to GO GO GO… we can hear the radio chatter and the rider down is not getting up and is in the middle of the track.  I think it was after the last boardwalk you hit the first proper rock garden,  he went down in that.  Again we hear a bit of chatter about extra help and bring the oxygen kit.  We can see the movement of Marshall’s and medics down the mountain, the red flag takes about an hour to clear.  Stewy from MTBcut took a break from filming and raced this year.  The top was quite chatty and good natured,  we aren’t going anywhere,  this is the nature of downhill racing,  riders get things wrong,  we all know the score,  after about 30 mins Frazer appears up top as well.  By now people are getting cold,  riders are being held at the bottom as well and it looks like a gondola rescue will happen.  I am also worried about the amount of traffic about to follow me down if the race restarts as a lot of contenders are up here.

Frazer tells us whats going on.  The crash is just out of shot.  Those on track under red flag will get an average time for the run, and will be allowed another.  The lad stuck in the start gate gets an average,  and restarts his clock for what will be his last run.  The rest of us up top are now on our last run,  time is running out and the track has been shut for about an hour.  The rescue gondola is being attached to come and get the downed rider,  this will take time.   There is a slight shuffle in the queue for the main contenders,  and a 20 second gap for everyone else.  So last run,  loads behind me…oh crap..never look back..never.

We start to set off, i let one of the Hope boys in front of me,  then get ready,  countdown this time…15..10..5  dib in start the clock pedal and hang on… i get a fairway before James Heal catches me and flys past screaming “south west massive” and he’s gone,  i think i make it to the woods before the next one passes me,  i hear them coming and move out the way, let them through…the track is quiet, everyones at the bottom now,  just me the sound of wheels being rimmed and tyre rumble,  the motorway,  tuck in and enjoy the ride,  the off beat wall,  weight back, straight line braking, scrub some speed dont skim the crest DONT get air, on the crest i see the transition, line up let the brakes go and hold on….really hold on,  i hate this bit…hit the tranny and rocks and the bike bucks andskips,  my head gets bounced around, the neck roll takes the edge of it, fuck is this fast,  and worldcuppers hit this twice as fast as i am maybe faster.

Into the bowl hard right run the fence line, lock up the back wheel and slide the bike and myself to a stop on the floor and jump up and stop my clock…race over.  Down in 9.08.

Damage toll then,  2 not so true wheels,  1xpinch flatted tube,  1x lost mini pump,  and what might be a cracked crank arm.  Done my left ankle,  neck hurts,  and i reckon on run 2 i also gashed my inner thigh,  but didnt notice that at all.   I very quickly notice the swarm of midges that are now feeding and glad i put the midge net in my box, straight on.  And start to pack up while everyone else filters off the mountain.

Post race bike,  only had to swap the front wheel,  quite a few lost chains,  rather a lot lost the rear mech as well.  it was a lash up my back end,  if the mech took a big enough hit it might loosen the axle nut,  then my wheel would have been ripped out.  The little wheels manufacturing emergency hanger has been properly tested now, should be fine for xc use after this.   Also been trying to work out how i gashed myself,  even though the top clamp parts of the Thomson seatpostare rounded,  that’s the only thing i can findto do me damage,  a freak crash with a freak injury  (it’s yellow andthe scab is pick-able now) still not as bad as last year when the old bits got chaffed red raw with wet sand,  that hurt for ages.

The end.  The awards were held in the new lower bar this year which was nice,  food and a pint,  the insane trophys from Hope put a smile on the podium faces.  We had an update on the downed rider as well.

Not sure why Jesse has a 2nd place trophy,  post race in the bar,  ah who cares…  the “specials” as hardtail are known as up in Scotland,  Jesse Wigman 1st,  Sam Holdsworth 2nd,  Joe Krejbich 3rd,  i was forth and drinking,  always next year for another stab at the podium.  Just so you know there is no hardtail class at this event,  they take note of us and we get the special on the spot awards,  No fuss reckon if we can last 6 hours when more up to the job bikes can’t,  and over the last 4 years the specials have become a part of the race makeup,  the race is mad enough on a big hit bike,  it’s really insane on hardtail and they love us for being nuts.

After each race i decide never to do it again on HT,  but keep coming back.  No Fuss put on a cracking event, and it’s a small family of enduro nutters every year,  nothing like a normal DH race,  some new faces this year,  i expect more next year,  but still a limited entry cult classic event that you should have a pop at,   thats if you think you can handle it.



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