We sat down with Si Paton, who not shy of a challenge, has taken on the task of rescuing and running the British Enduro Series
It’s fair to say Enduro had a rough winter and it seemed that the discipline was on the verge of collapsing in on itself. As far as UK Enduro goes however, Si Paton stepped in with his vast knowledge and experience gained in running the hugely successful British Downhill Series and took on the challenge of running an all new British Enduro Series.
So, enduro seems to have gone through a bit of a rough time over the winter months. It almost felt like the enduro world was having the carpet pulled from under its feet. What the hell happened?
It’s certainly been no easy ride for the Enduro train, there have certainly been a few derailments over the last 12 months. We can strat by mentioning that the SuperEnduro out in Italy took a year out, UKGE pulling the plug along with the European Enduro Series. Then add in the fatal incident over at the EWS in America and you can soon see it’s been no easy ride for all those on board.
At one point we went from no enduro series in the UK to two. It’s great to have so much choice if you’re a rider but is having two National Series is a bit of a headache for you as a series organiser?
Yes there was of course some confusion with both series initially having the same name. We had registered the BES Facebook page as far back as December 2014 and had all the primary websites and social media names registered so we were able to stick with the name for the series.
What are you going to do differently with the series to ensure enduro thrives from here on in?
It will be no short order to improve on the great foundations that the UKGE have built for Enduro racing in the U.K. We can only acknowledge their work in bringing great venues and stages to the dedicated Enduro racer. With news that the UKGE was to be no more in September, we were all caught napping and that has been a great stumbling block for the 2016 series. For example with the BDS we already have the 2017 venues and dates locked in, this allows us to start work on the tracks and make sure all the permissions are in place allowing us to develop the venues.
For Enduro to thrive we need to ensure all organisers are locked down to some basic standards through BEMBA. The boring part is talking about safety which leads to the sustainability of the discipline and the organisers. We will ensure there are several marshals on each stage along with at least two medics. Spectator management, all riders to practice each stage, full face helmets to be worn, course marker poles will be a minimum height and made of plastic, trees will be padded, debris at the side of the track will be cleared, tree spurs will be cut down etc.. We will treat this like a BDS and the standards we deliver there. The biggest fear now is that British Cycling are no longer supporting the discipline of Enduro. If cowboy organisers put on events and something goes very wrong, that could lead to leisure access rights being pulled, insurance increases, court appearances, law suits, injuries or worst case, fatalities.
What can everyone who enters the series expect from the Cannondale British Enduro Series – The BES?
The BDS Team is really excited to have the opportunity to deliver the Cannondale British Enduro Series in 2016. We believe we have a great package to offer the riders, spectators, sponsors, media and landowners/local area. The five round series will be based over two days at each venue offering some of the best trails in the U.K. The unique schedule allows training each morning on the three stages that will be raced on later that day.
We have some real key features that have been tried and trusted at the BDS – British Cycling’s National Downhill Series that we have delivered for ten years. We will be replicating those successful features as well as adding in a few enduro specific specifications to the event –
-Cannondale as title sponsor will have a large presence at the events and will be supporting all Cannondale riders.
-£8,000 in prize money for the series.
-£6,000 of that paid direct to the Elite Categories thanks to Continental Tyres.
-Equal prize money for both men and women.-£200 per round from GT Bicycles for the ‘Fastest Time of the Day’
-£100 per round from Pro Tharsis for the ‘Fastest through the speed trap’.
-£100 per round from Mudhugger for the ‘Biggest winning margin’.
-Over £20,000 in prizes for those that make it to the podium and the series overall in the non elite categories.
-Five man podiums.
-Invites to international riders have already gone out with some big names in Enduro expected to make at least one appearance.
-Helen Gaskell and James Green are confirmed riders reps for 2016 and await your feedback.
-Two medics on each live stage with a medic located at the base station.
-Security onsite on Friday and Saturday night.
-Multiple marshals located on course at key locations.
-Separate start and finish line personal.
-Large finish arena with crowd barriers, banners, flags and finish gantry.
-Jet wash with cleaners and lube at every round.
-Roots and Rain will be compiling the seeding lists.
-Trail crew are the same team from the UKGE.
-Backing of Steve Parr.
-Dedicated commentator with Andrew Cooper.
-Doc Ward photography as the official BES photographer.
-The Billy Can as the official caterer of the BES.
-Media already confirmed by Factory Jackson, Enduro-MTB, Pinkbike, Wideopen, Ride.io.
-Full on media campaign prior, during and after the events is already scheduled.
-Own satellite system (two satellites) ensuring saturation of social media.
-British Enduro website is loaded with information for all attendees.
-The organisers are contactable. Event Director firstname.lastname@example.org / 07968 220 359. Commercial Director (race entries/pit space) Krien Dawson email@example.com
The real jewel in the crown will be Action Sports Timing who will provide live timing and instant results via transponders.
The success of the BDS is undeniable and arguably the biggest and most popular national DH series in the world. Is the aim to take enduro in the UK to that level or are they completely different beasts?
The route to a successful BDS took several years. Lets not forget I worked in partnership for the first three years with Mr. UKGE Steve Parr. The low entry numbers, lack of sponsorship, three years of not making any money, we even lost money in the third year and the constant criticism all took it’s toll on both the organisers with Steve Parr finally throwing in the towel. It’s only been the last three years that it’s heading in the direction and there is still a lot of work to be done to put it where it really should be.
We have the same vision for the British Enduro Series as we do for the BES, the worlds leading national series. At a round of the BDS last year we had almost 100x Elite riders. We certainly want to replicate that with the BES, it will take time but it is achievable with the right vision, team, riders and industry support from our sponsors and media.
Where do you think the future lies for mtbing? DH is still referred to as the formula 1 of mountain biking and is a spectacular spectator sport. Can enduro, given the logistically difficult nature of the discipline, be as universally popular as DH?
Everyone loves downhill and with the likes of Aaron Gwin hitting mainstream media winning races with no chain, it will always be classed as the Formula 1 of mountain biking. The pure nature of the discipline of downhill means it will always be spectator friendly and draw in the media, spectators and industry support/sponsorship.
Enduro will grow, the regional one days races will become more and more popular as riders discover the beauty of one day racing in a low key format such as that of the Welsh Gravity Enduro Mash Up. BEMBA – The new body offering guidelines for Enduro organisers will steer those organisers down the correct path by ensuring minimum standards are followed and adhered to.
Round 1 is only a few weeks away. Are you and the team all ready to rock n’ roll at Ae Forest?
Ae Forest will certainly be a challenge, I personally have received a few comments regards my knowledge of enduro events and even had a few comments like, ‘Have I even been to one’? My C.V for enduro events is not the strongest, that said I helped organise the U.Ks first ever Enduro event (as we know it) at Glentress for the Avalanche Trophy in 2007 and then at Kielder in 2008, including commentating at both events. I’ve also been the commentator at Crankworx Whistler for the EWS for two years, attending track previews and rider/organisers meetings so gained some knowledge from the best in the business.
To make up for my lack of experience I have received a lot of guidance from Chris Roberts, Charlie Williams and Steve Parr. Trackside we will have the UKGE trail crew helping set up the stages and the event. Then add in the established BDS pit crew, we are confident we can deliver a premium level race series like we do for the BDS.
Your best four out of five rounds to count towards the series overall.
BES Round 1 26/27th March at Ae Forest in Dumfries in Scotland.
BES Round 2 7/8 th May Dyfi
BES Round 3 11/12th June at Afan.
BES Round 4 13/14th August at Eastridge near Shrewsbury in England.
BES Round 5 8/9th October at Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders, Scotland.