It's been a long time coming, but it's the big one! The Southern Enduro Champs in Minehead is the event that I've been working toward throughout our Team ORCC '23 series, and in this video, you'll join me as I take on seven stages at my special event.
Racing the Southern Enduro Champs at Minehead - Team ORCC Episode 5, by off-road.cc
Having spent a whole season racing almost monthly last year, and racing much less this year, I decided that my feature event for our Team ORCC '23 project should be a pretty significant one. So I chose one of, if not, the biggest enduro event in the southwest, the Southern Enduro Champs held in Minehead.
Not only does this race take riders through eight (this time seven due to poor weather) timed stages and cover over 25km of some of the finest trails in the South West, but it's also a BNES (British National Enduro Series) event, so the competition was strong. This event does things a little differently from the rest of the Southern Enduro series as it takes place over two days with a Saturday practice and seeding, with Sunday being the race day.
This event for me was big in more ways than one, mostly because I approached the event both mentally and physically fatigued after two rather full-on work weeks. Regardless, I was up for the challenge, especially with the knowledge of how excellent the riding is in this area. Though I was well aware that a storm was approaching towards the latter stages of practice, so in the interest of self-preservation, I practised only a couple of stages before heading home to recover... And watched Charlie Hatton bring home first place at the World Downhill Championships.
On the race day, as predicted, the weather threw another spanner in the works, as the 50mph winds led the organiser to cancel seeding and remove one stage of the race, reducing the number of stages to seven, which was music to my ears.
Come race day, I was feeling much fresher. Keen to get the stages done and dusted I pedalled up to the first stage (previously stage 2), and got sprinting out of the gate only to find that this stage was nothing short of gruelling. The combination of little elevation loss and mud with a treacle-like consistency made for a very hard time on the pedals, and a tough start to a huge day on the bike.
Things did get easier as the day went on, regardless of the monumental climbs between stages. The tracks dried out and became steeper, so I could concentrate on maintaining momentum by taking full advantage of gravity, rather than pedal input. But unfortunately, late into the day, fatigue seriously set in and I began to cramp as I made my way up to the penultimate stage. Because of that, I made the decision to skip stage six and make my way down stage seven to be sure I could make it down in one piece, rather than bin it due to my legs choosing to give up. As a result, I took a DNF firmly to the chin.
Although difficult, the Southern Enduro Champs was an awesome event with some of the best trails in this area of the country. Even though the conditions were a little dodgy to start with, the riding was prime and at the very least, it was a fantastic day out on the bike.
But before signing off and handing over to Suvi to close her season off at Raiders Gravel, I owe a huge thanks to the team's sponsors, Lapierre, MET, Stan's No Tubes, Continental and Northwave for making this project and experience possible. Fergus Ryan and Jake from Sprung also deserve big thanks for setting my suspension up beautifully and whipping my riding into shape ahead of the event.
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