Nigel Page at the 661 Gravity Enduro, Ae Forest

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 team manager Nigel Page competed at the first round of the SixSixOneGravity Enduro at Ae Forest over the weekend on his Nukeproof Mega all-mountain bike. team manager Nigel Page competed at the first round of the SixSixOneGravity Enduro at Ae Forest over the weekend on his Nukeproof Mega all-mountain bike.

Here’s Nigel’s report from the weekend:

Well, I just competed in the first round of the SixSixOneGravity Enduro at Ae Forest this past weekend. I didn’t really have much of an idea of what to expect as I have never done a race like this before so it was pretty exciting. I have had a go at the Mega Avalanche and enjoyed that but this is a totally different as you’re racing on your own and not going downhill all the time unfortunately – for me anyway!

There were many different riders competing from ex-World Cup downhill riders to the more specialist enduro guys that race cross-country as well, and then the guys there for a good time that ride trail centres etc. Some guys were serious but lots were just there to do their best and have a good time.


Race format

The format was that everyone did a run on the National downhill track on Saturday afternoon for a seeding time (I think this should be counted as a stage race time also, as some guys told me it was last year) which gave you your start times for Sunday’s stage races in your class. Then you got a sticker for Sunday with times on that you had to start each of the five stage races.

The stages were set out around a 30-mile loop and you had a certain time to pedal to each stage to make your allocated start time. They gave you enough time to make each stage without going at race pace but for me it was still a solid workout to say the least. I have never pedalled as far in three days ever in my life!

With there being so much to do most people did one loop on the Saturday before seeding to get a feel for the stages but you still don’t get too much practice on each stage. The five stage times you recorded would give you your overall time and position.

A storming seeding run on the Nukeproof Mega

I managed a storming run in seeding on my Nukeproof Mega, which rode like a lightweight downhill bike. I opted for a front spike tyre in the mud which helped a lot and I posted the fastest overall time of 2.41 – eleven seconds faster than anyone else. I was pretty stoked with that to say the least, as I knew I wouldn’t be winning on the flatter stages.

Bike setup and tyre choice was a constant conversation you could hear coming from everyone, and it seemed that most people had chosen a 140 – 160mm travel bike with a mixture of lightweight downhill tyres to more cross-country tyres.

My Nukeproof Mega was perfect I thought with a great balance of being lightweight but handled like a downhill bike on the steep tracks with its slack head angle and long wheelbase. I ran a Crank Brothers Gravity Dropper seatpost which was great, and some Schwalbe Fat Alberts (2.4 on the front and 2.25 on the rear). With the weather turning out wet and muddy I probably should have opted for some slightly faster rolling tyres but it was pretty good on the whole track the way it was and I had great fun.

Stage One – My favourite stage

We all arrived up at stage one with about half an hour to spare but huddled in the trees trying to keep out of the rain and cold. Stage one was one of my favourite stages being mostly downhill with big fast berms and jumps. This was the stage I was confident I could win on and make some good time up on the fitter guys that would take time out of me on stages two, three and four.

Myself and John Lawler were talking away and like big stupid idiots missed our start slot. We set off like a duel after the guy that was due to depart 20 seconds after me. I was raging at myself and destroyed the top part of the track only to catch the guy on a technical section, losing a few more seconds. I got past him and finished about eight seconds ahead of John but we messed our first stage up.

The difficult second stage

We then pedalled to stage two which took about 30 minutes of climbing to reach the start point with about ten minutes to spare. This section was hard for me and I wasn’t sure how to pace myself. I went off too hard at the start and forgot how long and flat it was. I lost out a good 10 -15 seconds on the fit, clipped-in guys on this stage.

Long pedal to stage three

Then it was another long pedal of about 40 minutes to stage three, which was a mixture of trail centre flat with a few slight uphills and tight turns into a trail centre downhill section, which was fun but not too difficult.

I wasn’t too sure again how to pace myself on this stage and ended up going too easy this time on the first flat half! So again I lost about a good ten seconds to the fast boys.

Soaked to the bone on stage four

It was then a long pedal of about 45 minutess to stage four, still in the p1ssing rain. I was getting a bit tired and over it as we were cold and wet to the bone. Stage four wasn’t quite as bad as I remembered it from the previous day, but again I took it too easy as I thought it was longer and I wasn’t that tired at the end, so knew I hadn’t gone anywhere near hard enough.

After stage four it was a long pedal of about one hour to get to the final stage and the downhill track which we used in qualifying, just with a different middle section which I hadn’t practised, so I was a bit careful going into it. It was a lot flatter and slower than the section in the quali track and I made some big mistakes in there going off the track a few times in the deep mud and one small crash, this time without my front spike tyre.

I still managed an okay time, seven seconds faster than anyone else in the Masters class and the second fastest time overall for stage five, so I was very happy with my downhill stages. I think I finished second or third overall in the Masters class and top five overall so I was pretty pleased with that.

Steve Parr and his team put on a great event for this first race and I would really recommend it to anyone wanting a lot of riding on their bikes for the weekend with a bit of racing. There wasn’t the tension there is at the start of a downhill race and I wasn’t nervous – I think this is mainly due to being so knackered from all the pedalling!

The things I learned and need to think about for next time are:

• I need to be a lot fitter to win an overall enduro

• Choose tyres that will roll faster for the pedal sections and just deal with them on the downhill sections

• Go harder on all the timed flat sections and just try to recover by the next stage

• Take a watch and keep an eye on time so you don’t miss your start time, and be able to pace yourself to get to each section in time for your start but not too early

• Use clipless pedals; but I am never going to do that out of principle of hating them!

• It was a great experience and I have never been this tired or had massive cramps in my legs before, but I am really looking forward to the next one I can do. I am going to try and race the round at Innerleithen as I hear it has the most descending!

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