Mini Enduro Round 1: Haldon Forest Park
James Smurthwaite reports from Round 1 in Haldon Forest
The mini-downhill format, masterminded by Naked Racing’s Chris Roberts, aims to make downhill racing more accessible to everyone who enjoys the sport. Sunday saw the first ever mini-enduro, Chris’ attempt to do the same for the Enduro format of bike racing. The race was held in Devon’s Haldon Forest Park, and despite the adverse weather conditions was attended by nearly 150 keen riders, from former world champion Gee Atherton down to people racing for the first time ever!
The format was simple enough. There were three separate timed stages around the forest, each mainly downhill but with some pedalling sections. The transitions between each stage were relaxed and untimed. In the morning the riders were free to practice as they wished and in the afternoon each rider got one run on each stage, their cumulative times decided the finishing positions.
The first stage made good use of Haldon’s existing cross country black route which Gee Atherton said he could “ride all day”.
The second was a very downhill orientated run that gullied straight down the hillside and the third a twisty, narrow and dark mudfest. These three varied and testing stages made for some great racing and action for all riders and spectators.
The win was always going to be hotly contested by the Atherton brothers, Gee and Dan.
Unfortunately for Dan he punctured near the end of the first stage, and some timing mishaps meant he had to repeat stages, which tired him, he fell to second place, handing the victory to his brother, Gee. Their team mate, in his first event for GT, Taylor Vernon, came in a close third, and at the age of 16, marked himself out as a name to watch in the future.
In reality though, Sunday’s event was not about the winners and losers. Despite the weather and mud, the smiles on all competitors’ faces was tribute to the real winner today. Mini enduro looks here to stay!
A fantastic, well organised event allowed it to introduce itself to the UK. Challenging, but not enough to put anyone off, it was an event that really brought out the social side of the sport, creating a fantastic atmosphere of friendly competition between everyone.
Roll on a fantastic summer of riding and next year’s event!