QECP Day & Night Enduro: Harry Westbrook’s race report
Thanks Harry Westbrook for the race report we will be sending you out a Vectiox.com Narrow/wide chainring as a thank you.
QECP Day & Night Enduro 2014
Race report from the Riders view.
The first ever QECP day and night enduro kicked off last weekend to a flying start. The likes of GT, Cube, Specialized, Hargroves cycles and Fox all turned up with their shiny new bikes and helmets. The company’s were providing free demo bikes to try out which many did, including me. However on the Saturday only one thing was on the riders minds, the race. Throughout the day riders turned up, bikes ready, riders ready. Slowly filtering into the tent to collect their numbers and a free sample of energy tablets to go along with it. The atmosphere was great and the riders were talking about there experiences at other tracks until a marshal called fro the briefing and everyone gathered around.
Riders lined the race village waiting for the briefing, not so subtlety checking out the competition. 150 Riders from 16-40+ waited for the briefing to be over and then one by one began the first climb up to stage 1 for practice. After the gruelling 15 minute climb a opening showed where stages 1,2 and 3 would start from, a single flood light and a handful of marshals with timers and clipboards would be counting us in for the race. Riders waited at the top nervously seeing who would dare to brave stage 1 first. After some waiting it was finally my turn. Me and Lewis set off to a flying start only to realise the sharp left turn into the forest, after narrowly squeezing through the trees we saw a sign “warning steep”. I thought to myself i have seen them before and it was not too bad, probably just putting it there for the other riders.. Oh how i was wrong, after a short flattish ride I was greeted with a huge hill with a slippery track traversing down it. I applied the brakes but it was to little too late, I was sliding sideways down the hill if you want to call it that, i prefer cliff. I heard a guy shout ” your on camera next corner make it special” with that i let go of the brakes only to loose a pedal and almost come off. So much for making it special.. Once the cliff was conquered *cough* survived, a path lead through bushes to a smaller but slightly steeper cliff, once again i applied the brakes and slid down it only to go sideways and hit a stump and catapult myself off the bike and fall 10 feet down the hill, Off to a good start!
By this point i was thinking i only just survived in the light, how am i supposed to race in the dark on this death trap of a course! But I soldiered through and began a climb back up to the starting point for the first three stages. After 25 minutes of pedalling, bright red in the face i arrived back at the top. We made the choice to skip 2 and head to 3 and then back to the race village for something to eat before the race. Stage three was a more flowing trail with bushes and trees on either side and some sharp corners to keep you awake, probably the slowest of the stages however it was also the longest, after a uneventful run we headed back to the race village to grab some burgers and a drink and get ready for the race.
After finishing our burgers we realised we could have fitted in another stage however we decided to stay in the village and wait for the race. As more and more riders filtered back into the village nerves were getting the better of a lot of riders, and a line formed at the 2 porta-pottys. After what seemed like a lifetime we heard a marshal shout “Riders 1 to 6, get to the start line please!”. And so it began, riders mounted their steeds and began to slowly get in number order, all as focused and nervous as the man behind him. “Riders 45! 46! and 47 please!”. That was me, i rolled forward and confirmed my name, he counted me down from 3 and i was off! Light was still ok at this point and there was no need for my headlamp. After practice the marshals decided to add a extra 10 minutes to the first climb because some were struggling to make it on time. This was ok for me and i conserved energy and got to the start area with 15 minutes to spare. Riders pooled up at the top waiting for there turn to be called for stage 1, hoping they got down in one piece. After another wait i was called up and after wishing the guy in front of me good luck and him setting off it was my time to shine. Now knowing what to expect i flew through the first section and onto the steep section, managing to keep both pedals on this time too! After clearing that in reasonable time i went to the second cliff where disaster struck again… i tried to avoid doing the same thing as before but only made it worse throwing myself sideways and twisting my handlebars. After getting back on and fixing my bike i rushed off to the finish line still dazed from the crash.
Once again i climbed the now hated by every rider climb back up to the top, light was fading quick and the headlamp was cracked out. This time the wait at the top was only 10 minutes which gave me time to check myself and bike for damage from the crash and restock fuel levels. Stage 2 was a fast flowing and fun track with roots and a big drop which crossed the climb up to the starting line. Crowds were more vocal on this stage, although blinded by my light they still cheered and shouted “Pedal! Pedal! Pedal!”. I was riding stage 2 blind however keeping up what felt in the dark like some good speed. After the big drop i hit a rock garden where another crowd had gathered with what looked like Christmas lights lining the track. They once again shouted “Pedal! Pedal! Pedal!” and i crossed the finish line and shouted my number.
Happy with my performance i headed towards the starting area for what was the last time. Alot more pushing was done on this climb although i still managed to have 5 minutes at the top to compose myself ready for the next run. Good-luck was wished as normal and i set off down the track which i knew would be flowing and not to challenging, however half way down a rider on a fat bike caught up to me and I had to pull over loosing a bit of time. I carried on a little annoyed however he was faster than me so fair enough..
You was given 20 minutes for the descent and climb between 3 and 4. Many riders struggled making it on time, me only getting to the start line with 40 seconds to spare, luckily stage 4 was the red route i had ridden plenty of times at QECP and was comfortable making a good run down it. The crowds cheered once again and after leaving that last berm I sprinted to the finish line where i was greeted with a cold beer and a fist bump by a marshal.
I have never felt a feeling like crossing that finishing line, i was just happy to still be alive at first then when the adrenaline began to die down i reflected on what i had just done, my first ever mountain bike race! Riders rapidly began coming in and within 30 minutes most riders were finished after me. Me and Lewis met up to tell of tales about the race, turns out he had a pretty bad smash however he was ok and so was his bike.
After a wait and one or two beers the marshals called everyone to the center of the race village where three hay bails were set up as the podium.
Firstly the pros 1st Oliver Carter 2nd Rob Francis and 3rd Ben Marks.
Then the u18’s (there was three competing so a guaranteed podium, not bad eh?) 1st Ruairi Phelan 2nd Tom Davies and 3rd James Henderson.
Sport men 1st Mark Baker 2nd Neal Russell and 3rd Andrew Gardiner.
4th Fun, this was me lets hope for a podium! 1st Anthony Prior 2nd Gareth Marriott and 3rd Rick Lewendon.
no podium this time maybe next..
Finally the women 1st Joanne Lewendon 2nd Rebecca Booth and 3rd Tania Barrow.
This was followed by a huge raffle draw in which most riders got a prize (except for me :() and a night of beer and celebration. I retired to my tent on a life high and smiled all the way back.
A brilliant event for my first race, i couldn’t have asked for a better organised event the QECP team were spot on and they are owed alot of credit by every rider racing that night. Once again thanks QECP for a great weekend!
Pics: Big Mac Photography
Words: Harry Westbrook