More great news from Drover-sponsored enduro fiend Lewis Day!
Despite torrential rain turning the trails into rivers of grease, he bagged 5th place out of a field of 75 in the latest round of the One Industries Mini Enduro, this time held at the Forest of Dean. Another quality effort!
Over to Lewis, then, for this race report – sounds like there was as much drama after the race as during!
Turning up at the Forest of Dean on the Saturday morning was not exactly inspiring to say the least. It was damp, the car park was heaving and I’d only just dried out from the Slalom at Hay Bike Fest the previous night.
However, we got kitted up and headed out to suss out the 4 stages.
Stage 1 involved a fast sprint start down a sloppy fire road – when I say sloppy I mean every pedal stroke was met with a wheel spin and fishtailing rear end.
A 90-degree right signified the beginning of the fun. From this point on I found my groove and slipping and sliding was no longer a pain but just good ol’ fun!
This particular section was made up of tight flat corners before dropping onto a fire road and then off the other side into a fast flowy section, up and down the walls of a small “U” shaped valley.
This led into a long, off-camber pedally section which – in the given conditions – was extremely tricky. The trail then pointed down once more into some tight, off-camber corners with the odd sneaky root to catch you out.
Finally there was a sprint to the finish where you were met with a vicious dip. There were two methods of attack here – the first was to pedal hard up to it, slow up and ride through it. The second was to pedal hard at it, try not to slip on the roots and launch over it. The second was obviously quicker – if you could make it stick! This stage was to be later repeated as stage 4.
The second stage was fun and relatively straight forward: A pedally start into a steep bomb-hole corner and a quick blast to the finish, job done.
Stage 3 was a new one, and was certainly causing a rift among competitors.
Again, the start involved lots of pedalling, fighting the slop before dropping across the fire road into a steeper, off-camber, old school downhill track affair. This was a very tricky stage to ride without making any mistakes and I knew it was one worth practicing.
Going into Sunday’s race, I was feeling fairly comfortable and a quick walk of stage 3 before kitting up erased any further questions about line choice and I headed up the 20 minute climb for Stage 1.
Pedalling down the first stretch, it became obvious that the sheer number of riders hitting the course had affected grip levels. In some cases, the traffic had helped by clearing all the mud but in others it had just made it very greasy!
Anyhow, I managed to clear the sections cleanly only dabbing a foot on a tight left-hander that had caused me issues all through practice. Also, I swallowed some brave pills and opted to jump the dip – phew!
Peering over the timer’s shoulder whilst the other riders came down, I was pleased to see I was sitting in 5th position. If I could hold that, I thought, I’d be happy.
Stage 2 – bizarrely – didn’t go so well. After feeling completely happy with this stage on the Saturday, I slipped and went off line on the bomb hole section costing me a second or two. Very frustrating. Still, on to stage 3.
Suffice to say – this one was a disaster. During the transition between second and third stages, the heavens opened and turned the trails into pure grease. The top section went well, I felt fairly strong on the pedals and only swallowed one or two lumps of mud, but that all changed once I hit the steeper stuff.
First, my front wheel washed out on a right hand corner putting me on the floor. This corner led straight into a rooty, off-camber horror show meaning it was very difficult to get going again. I ended up scooting along this section and falling once more on the next corner.
By now, I wasn’t in the best mood and so rode the rest of the stage much like I’d never seen, let alone ridden, a bike before. One more stage to go and my mindset was very much “ah well, just stay on the bike and salvage what you can.”
Back at the start of the first stage for the second run down it. Not much to say about this one other than the carnage the rain had caused had bought out the crowds and the atmosphere was excellent. Funny how the rain can really make or break an event!
Once again, after concentrating very hard to stay rubber side up, I swallowed my brave pill and launched the final dip. One final sigh of relief and relax.
There was a long wait for the results, and when they finally landed here were plenty of bemused faces. I was one of the few happy ones, placing in 6th spot. Happy days I thought – top 5 would have been great but after my issues on Stage 3 I was hoping for a top 10 at best.
Then, suddenly, the results were whisked away from us and replaced with a new set without Stage 3 included. Turns out the timing for this stage was a bit off, so they disregarded it. Added bonus for me as it moved me up into 5th!
Overall, despite the damp start it was one of the best weekends racing I’ve had. A great atmosphere, great stages and strangely great conditions. 5th place as well was an added bonus, a podium would have been nice but against the likes of Joe Taylor of Mojo Suspension and Rob Newman of Banshee bikes, I was chuffed.
Want to see some thrills & spills from the FOD Mini Enduro? Check out the vid below!