The PMBA Hope / Orange sponsored Enduro series is probably the hottest grass roots racing series around at the moment. It’s been attracting the attention of some big name enduro riders for quite a while and with pretty much each race being a sell out you have got to get booked on well in advance especially if you want to take part in all the races.
The series brings a taste of racing to the masses without the need for racing licenses and paperwork nightmares. You enter online, turn up on the day, and race (or ride) the course at your own pace, with or without your mates. Simples!
It’s the ideal opportunity to let rip on trails you wouldn’t normally get to ride, and it’s becoming more and more popular as groups of riders from up and down the country are signing up for a chance to compete with each other just for fun.
After missing out on the first 4 races I managed to get myself signed up for round 5 at Kirroughtree. Kirroughtree is one of the 7 Stanes which are Scottish mtb trail centres. I’ve long been a fan of the 7 Stanes and Kirroughtree has always been one of my favourites. It’s a beautiful forest and the trails are fast and flowy and great fun to ride in all weathers.
Sam and the crew at the Break Pad cycle centre at Kirroughtree regularly organise all kinds of bike related events so it’s no surprise that the PMBA series picked Kirroughtree as the venue for their only race venue over the border.
The team had cut in some natural stages specially for the event and everyone was looking forward to getting loose in the trees.
After hearing of some quite serious weather and getting a run down of the stages I decided it would be best to go for a more aggressive tyre set-up to try and eek out a bit more grip on the roots and steep sections. Whilst I was contemplating the ideal rubber choice, the FC bosses were pulling the plug on one of the fresh cut stages for health and safety reasons meaning 2 stages would be cut. It was sad news but thankfully the race organisers pulled 2 stages that had been used for previous events out of the bag and everything was back on track for a great weekends racing.
With tyres switched and the bike prepped and ready for action it was time to head out to the forest.
These events usually have camping available so everyone can hang out with their friends, get themselves set-up, and be properly rested for race day. I quickly found the Gisburn Forest Collective including race organiser Kev Duckworth and series photographer Nick Moor holed up in one corner of the camping field so I headed over and added my tent to Gisburn Village.
I’ve never really been much of a racer but having been to a couple of these before I’m starting to find the lure of riding old school natural trails as fast as you dare very appealing.
There was a good mix of natural (fresh cut) and trail centre trail for this one and the transitions in the PMBA series aren’t timed so you don’t have to race the bits inbetween stages which makes for a relaxed fun atmoshphere.
I rode a couple of stages in practise and then raced 3 out of 5 stages blind as I’d been told it was mostly red and black trail. Everything was looking good, until I charged into a rock garden on stage 4 which caught me off guard and nearly spat me off the track after I committed to a crap line and ended up heading for the trees on a skinny rocky outcrop.
After a quick adjustment that involved picking up the bike I was back on track but soon had another rider catching me. The hidden racer in everyone starts to show when this happens. It’s tricky letting someone past without losing time. It can be hard to tell when they’re shouting to get past if they’re actually in a position to do it quickly or not. In this case it was “not”, meaning I lost a couple of seconds letting the guy through which got the red mist up and had me chasing him like a mad dog to the end of the stage. Having made it safely through I was kicking myself for the silly mistake and for not looking at all the stages beforehand.
As the afternoon progressed and the stages went by I started to feel I had missed out by not racing any of the other events this season. I was loving it! The steep and loamy natural cut stage 6 surprised me the most. I’d briefly looked at it during practise and decided against riding it before the race incase I crashed! (lol) It was surprisingly grippy as it was fairly dry and was definitely the steepest thing I’d ridden to date that I was aware of anyway.
All in all it was a great reminder of why I got into mtb in the first place and I’ll definitely be signing up for more events in the coming months.
Thanks to Santa Cruz UK, Absolute Black, Squirt Lube, Invisiframe and Bounce suspension for all their help. Please check out our supporters websites and products.
To find out more and enter the race series on the Borderline events site
or via the race series facebook page