Friday, April 24th, 2015
A few winters ago I went riding mx enduro in mid wales with Joe Smith and Ex CRC team rider Matt Simmonds on my old 1995 Kawasaki KX 125 to do try Enduro MX in the off season for cross training.
To say the least, I loved it! It was like mountain biking without all the pedaling and the uphills are as fun as the downhills!
After that is was a while untill I did it again but then I entered a couple of the WOR race experience days with Joe and Matt. These were fairly easy Enduro loops where you get to practice in the morning for around a 15 – 20km loop and then have an hour long open race in the afternoon. This was great fun and really hard work, but I was hooked on it.
Last year I upgraded my bike and bought a 2014 KTM 150 XC bike. This has made it more enjoyable and over the last 2 winters I have been out riding with mates on some amazing adventures.
I got more and more interested in the sport and started watching the extreme enduro events on RedBull TV and seeing what it was all about. This winter I went to a practice day at Tong offroad park where I saw the “Eddy’s extreme” (the 2nd round of the Extreme Enduro series). All the top extreme enduro riders have come from a high level trials background and that really helps with the difficult obstacles. I have never done trials but thought I would give it a go anyway and so I turned up in January ready to go!
This race was different to what I had done before. It was a 2 hour race on a much harder track with no practice before the race, you could only walk the course. I entered the Vets class, although I should really have entered the Sportsman’s class or novice, but what the hell?! The race was one of the most physical demanding things I have ever done. After 1 hour I had to stop for some jelly sweets to continue on. I had a horrendous start in the race starting on the second row and was knocked off around the first corner entering a rock garden. I was so tired after the first lap fighting my way through I thought I was going to have to quit. But that’s not in my nature and I battled on and finished the race in 16th in class.
Whilst I was there I met a guy called Mikey Longsdale who makes videos called “Mikey’s World”. I got chatting to him as he used to do some downhill and recognized me. So he did a couple of interviews with me before and after the event. I told him I wasn’t too happy with how my race went and that I was going to enter another one. So he said if I was they would do a bit of a video with me leading up to that event and then at the event to see how I got on.
When I got home I looked at my calendar and looked what MX Enduro events where coming up before the Downhill season kicked off and noticed that the guys at WOR events had a local event called the “Tough One” coming up in March. So without really looking I entered it. After I watched the previous years races online I realized why it is called the “Tough One” and was a round of the World Extreme Enduro series. The funny thing was it is held at Natmawr quarry in North Wales where I raced my first ever Pro MTB national back in 1998 where I got 2nd place behind Steve Peat, so how hard could it be?
Mikey and his Boss Dave from Adventure-Spec came over to my house to chat about the lead up to the event and to find out what I was doing entering the Tough One with my limited experience of MX Enduro. They thought I was pretty stupid to be honest but agreed to film me and hook me up with some Golden tires for by bike to help with the extreme sections at the Tough One. They also organised a day where I went riding with Pro rider Andy Noakley over at Cowm Quarry. That was great but to be honest, it just drove home how crap I actually was in comparison to Andy! He showed me a cool few skills though which would help me out come the “Tough One”… hopefully.
So the weekend of the race came about and the family and I headed down. I did a walking lap of the course on the Saturday was actually worried that I wouldn’t even manage a full lap!
My Vets race started together with the Sportsman’s class at 9.00am on Sunday morning. I managed to get a better start than I had at the last race and actually managed to get around 1 lap with no major problems! (apart from the arm pump on one steep climb that made my bike shoot out of my hands near the top). My girlfriend Michelle was a big help shouting advice at me in the tricky Rock Garden and passing me a High5 sports bar 1 hour into the race. I was riding better than I thought I would and was inside the top 10 after the first hour of the 2 hour race. Then with about 2 laps to go, I wheelied onto the easiest log section of the man made super enduro style section and 2 of the logs had moved just enough for my front and back wheel to drop down between them which stopped me dead. Most riders have a helper that can pull help pull them out, but Michelle was not going to be able to help get me out, she can barely get the top off a jar of olives! Eventually a marshal and myself got my bike out after at good 3 or 4 minutes but I was that exhausted after that I had nothing left for riding. But I finished the race which I was stoked about and manged to end up in 10th place which looking back was a great achievement for myself.
I really enjoyed the challenge and the race and would like to say a big thanks to Dave and Mikey from Adventure-Spec, Matt Yeo at Decade for my JT gear and Helmet and Andy Noakley for showing me how to actually ride as well as Graham Jarvis’ mechanic for helping me with my bike.