Velo Club Moulin

Friday, 15 May 2009

Avalanche Enduro- Ae

Ok so I am going to do a shameless cut and past job here, since I spent an evening this week jotting down the words to go on a Descent-World report I am just going to do it here.............

Only 2 weeks after the first event at Kielder, the second of the seasons Avalanche Enduro events went off this past weekend at Ae forest. Unlike the first round which formed part of the European wide Saab Salomon series, the Ae event was run as a one off, between that and doubtless the short gap between Kielder and here, the numbers were down somewhat to little over 100, giving the event something of a friendly, grassroots feel to it.

Running to the same format as previous events, timed sections of “downhill” with untimed (but time limited) linking sections in between, the Ae course was shorter though somewhat heavier going than its Kielder cousin, with plenty of pedalling and even a couple of cheeky wee power climbs thrown into the mix. At the end of the day good descending skills were still required to do well but the Ae stage layout certainly brought the balance of favour back from the more specialist downhillers towards the all rounder’s in the pack.

Jonathan Webb on SS6 (Kev Wyllie)

Down towards the end of SS6

Is it vain to put a photo of yourself in your own race repo? Not really if you are in the process of crashing.....(Kev Wyllie)

The course was based around the “Ae Line” Red XC trail with initial plans to run the final stage down the National DH track though poor weather in the lead up to the event and undoubtedly the state of the track following a NPS event only a fortnight before, led to its cancellation, much to the disappointment of the downhillers in the field. Saturday’s prologue and Sundays Stage 1 actually started with a run down the first climb in reverse, with a little freshly cut muddy chute to deal with halfway down, for many the goal of the first stage seemed to revolve primarily around making it down the chute in one piece, which yours truly managed on Saturday but not on Sunday! On from there, timed sections were to be had on Granny Green Luv, a short and pedally section down Bran Burn Bash followed by the days killer stage along The Edge section of trail which started with a fairly flat section in the trees up top, it dropped through the open towards the water of Ae river before a short but killer climb back up to the ridge before dropping back down to the finish, even for the fast boys it was a 7 minute plus affair. From there another short blast through Omega man led to the 6th and final stage which took in the Shredder trail from the top of the hill, a more downhill orientated finish to the day.

As is the case in the Enduro events they are a somewhat social affair with riders having time between stages to ride together and get to know those racing around them, though transition stages were somewhat tighter than at Kielder it was not enough to stop the mid race banter. In fact I would suggest that for the average privateer the transition times were getting close to ideal, Kielder felt a little relaxed at times, personally it felt that when guys on full on downhill bikes at Kielder were making the transition times with ease it did go against the ethos of the event somewhat. Similarly the ethos of the event also seemed to be kept up at Ae with the stages being more all round rather than all downhill. It didn’t seem to suit everyone with some hoping to turn up to find half a dozen downhill stages with easy links in between but to others, including myself and UK organiser Clive Forth, Ae was true to the ethos of Enduro racing.

Scratch winner Dan Darwood (Oliver Coats)

Womens winner Rachel Evans (Oliver Coats)

Alex Langley on his way to a stage 6 win (Oliver Coats)

Johnny Mcmanmon (Oliver Coats)

In the scratch event Dan Darwood of Justridingalong took the win, along with first place in the Masters category and 3 of the 6 stage wins along the way. In second place was Frenchman Vincent Julliot who doubtless benefited from putting a whopping 11 seconds into his nearest rival on the long and pedally Edge stage. Rounding up the Scratch podium was Rob Francis who put in a consistent set of times through the 6 stages without ever quite squeezing a win. In Junior men’s it was Mike Thickens of who took the win and in the women’s Rachel Evans took a tightly fought first by little more than 6 seconds, close after almost half an hour of racing.

Ae was yet another fantastic event by the Avalanche crew, the format of the events is fantastic and the organisation is top notch, I can honestly say that in my 13 or so years of racing bikes the last 2 events I have done at Kielder and now Ae are hands down the best races I have taken part in. No attitudes, no need for specialist kit, just mountain bike riders racing whatever bikes they happen to own. The grapevine still suggests that a 3rd event might be a possibility later in the year; I really hope it goes ahead.

For full results and details on forthcoming Avalanche series events head to If you were there and want to see some nice snaps of yourself then try the sites of Oliver Coats orKevin Wyllie.

Watch out next week on the DW Blog for headcam footage from the event.

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