Pearce Cycles – Charity Event / Gravity Enduro

Lets get two things clear from the start. 1.Gravity Enduro is without doubt one of the most physically demanding race formats on a bike in the UK and 2. Pearce Cycles put on the best organised events in the UK.

Veteran Women winner Fionna Thomson

As a enduro novice I decided that the charity gravity enduro would be a good place to get started. As I imagine most downhill racers do, I would consider myself to be fairly good on a short travel bike so I thought racing four stages of mostly downhill sections would be relatively easy. How wrong could I be?

The race took a four stage format with each rider racing two stages twice and the total time added up to give a time on which overall places were decided. Stage one was by far the hardest of the two stages. Starting towards the top of the hill near to the trig point (start of the old downhill tracks) the track started with a sprint into some loamy corners and then into the last sections of the Hopton XC loop then past the car park and immediately into the start of the cross country section. These two sections together gave 3-4 minutes of flat out descending but also signalled the end of the fun and start of the pain. From the stream crossing at the bottom of this section the track then started to climb up the fire road to the quarry section which gave a slight respite from the climbing and then back on the fire road to join with the bottom of the track that was used in the first round of the Pearce series earlier in the year and then another sharp uphill sprint before dropping into the finish field.

Ben Savage Trials rider, savage skills

Stage two had far more gravity than enduro and was perhaps the more enjoyable of the two and involved far less pain than the first. Starting from just below the trig point the track climbed to the top of the old downhill tracks to follow the old national championship track. Far more technically demanding this part of the track was rooty, slippy and dark which make carrying speed challenging on the fourth run of the day. The track then followed the cross country track through the high speed open section into the woods and the table tops before the only uphill on the section, a lung busting 30-40 seconds section before diving back into the woods to join the xc track, again more high speed flowing sections before re-joining the fire road for a downhill sprint into the final section of freshly built traverses and catch berms. Before joining the bottom of the downhill track raced the previous day into the finish.

Tom Braithwaite being hunted down by Slugger Beaumont

Stage 1 was around the 10 minute mark for most and stage 2 around 7 minutes. Whilst these don’t sound a lot, trust me racing these at the same pace that you would a downhill race definitely takes its toll over the course of the day. Each competitor was given an hour to complete each run and make their way back to the top of the course. On paper this sounds easy but it’s fair to say the vast majority of people were struggling to comfortably make it to the top of the course with enough time to spare for the last runs.

Expert Winner Adam Halling

Particular mention should go to Ben Nott and the Barret brothers Matt and Andrew who all managed to win their catagories after being crowned downhill Midlands Champs the day before. Obviously Mark Beaumont won by over a minute but for the vast majority of competitors it was just enough to finish the event.

Elite women winner Cheri Mills

Once again another faultless event put together by Pearce Cycles, hopefully we will be able to see another one soon on the tracks at Bringewood.

For full results visit:

Words by Chris Field
Images by Sarah Barrett (Roots & Rain)

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