The Dudes of Hazzard are everywhere at the moment. They have got themselves a pretty sweet little brand going with their crazy antics and sick riding. They also put on a little shindig going by the name of ”This is Enduro Now’. We went to the first one last year and had an awesome time, so when this year it was announced as ‘The Spirit of Enduro World Championship’ we were well in. Apart from the fact we didn’t have enough parts to build two Rangers, and Tam’s frame was away at a magazine shoot….
It’s a long old drive up to Scotland and to save on the fuel bill we were to do the trip in two legs. Tam, Jamie and I would meet Matt in Gaydon (lol) and then drive the rest of the way in his new Megane! This meant 4 people and 4 bikes all squashed into a normal family hatch back, things on the back seat where tight. Only 8-10 hours to go… This year we were staying the race village of Kinlochleven so we wouldn’t have to get up super early and drive 45min to the venue, this is win!
Stage 1 and 2 were used last year, with a brand new track being cut in for stage 3. We would hit 3 first so we could spend a bit of time looking for lines and stuff. The climbs to the top of the stages are pretty tough for someone of my fitness levels, luckily Matt was in the same boat as me, so we hung back while Tam and Jamie motored on ahead. On the way up to stage two you could see the rain being blown through the valley sideways and as we rounded a corner I was nearly blown from my bike, tough going let me tell you. We chose to skip a run of stage 1 and seek the warmth.
Our start time on Sunday morning was 8:45 and the temperature, 4 degrees. We lined up for bike check and I hoped they wouldn’t notice the state of my brake pads… reckon my sweet frame caught his eye and distracted him because she sailed straight through. We lined up and waited for the off, and as the whistle blew I popped a sweet wheelie and then blasted off down the road. Then I had to stop and catch my breath. Once you had made your start time there was no stress about when you actually did your runs, as long they were done in the right order and before the cut off time. So once again Tam and Jamie went nuts up the hills and Mat and I struggled on.
Stage 1 first and none of us had practised this one. I thought it would be OK as I rode it last year but it wasn’t. I didn’t even remember there was a pedally bit half way and I got properly caught out by a cheeky inside line that was actually axle deep bog. Got my foot wet getting out and everything! There is a pretty tough right hander towards the bottom, drops over some rocks as you turn. I didn’t get it right and nearly sent it over the catchment hedge and took the opportunity to catch my breath and take in some heckling! Stage 2 next and I was properly excited, not about the climb mind you! Once at the top Mat and I lined up in the queue, ate some food and got ready to haul ass on this awesome stage. Its pretty flat out over loose rock, through ruts and over drops. There is the occasional boulder mid track, and just after a drop there was one right there in front of me. There was no time to abort so I had to pull a massive huck to flat over the top of it, loved it. I stacked twice further down but other than that it was a sick run. The Ranger loved it, that thing is a beast of a hardtail. Loved every second of that gnarly Scottish mountain.
As Matt and I rode past the Ice Factor on our way to stage 3 we saw Tam and Jamie in queue for the bike wash. They had already finished and were looking totally knackered. I didn’t feel too bad but we did still have the bog stage to come. When we got to the start line it was confirmed, absolute carnage. The top of the track was taped pretty wide and there where ruts everywhere. I hugged the tape to try and carry speed which worked well until a tricky right hander before the woods. It was a quick fix before the track got gnarly in the rocks. I fancied a rest at the end of the rocks before the long pedal, so sent it over the bars on this little rock drop (Check the picture, 2nd from the bottom, on Redbull Bike) and took a hit to the backside from the saddle on the way over. After that the dropper post didn’t work for the long pedal to the final wood section so my legs were pretty much jelly by the bottom. I hung around under the Redbull arch and waited for Matt to get down before we both made our way back to the Ice Factor to hand the timing cards in.
Tam- Sage1- 08:19 (75th) Stage2- 06:36 (67th) Stage3- 05:52 Overall- 20:47 (61st)
Burf- Stage1- 06:52 (34th) Stage2- 05:31 (16th) Stage3-06:38 (66th) Overall- 19:01 (34th)
As always a totally sick weekend was had by all who too part in the race put on by The Dudes, and I will definitely be back for next years race! There was talk of taking a full suspension bike next year…
I won’t be chickening out though.
Keep ‘er Sideways