9/10 from 550 + reviews

Bring On A New Season - LLB Enduro Team

   Words by Beth Noy

   on 11/03/2016 10:02:00

As fast as last season finished the new season is upon us. It always feels so far away and that you have months of time for training but without fail the race creeps upon you giving you a false sense of security. Have I done enough training? Should I have done more intervals? Amateur racing is getting more and more competitive each year, you’ve got to really push yourselves these days to get anywhere.

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Excitement has been brewing in the Leisure Lakes Gravity team for a few weeks now. With the edition of new rider James Green, making the team consist of two elite riders and two senior riders for 2016. New sponsors coming on board with Sealskinz and SIS, and existing ones being strengthened; Specialized, Muc-Off, InvisiFRAME, Renthal and Cycle Plan, by bond and support. Everyone within the team is feeling highly spirited about this year.

Leisure Lakes Bikes - Helvellyn Heaven from Leisure Lakes Bikes on Vimeo.

The week before Bike Park Wales the team went up to the Lake District for a team bonding/filming weekend, which should hopefully reveal the fruits of our labour very soon. Unfortunately James Green was struck down with food poisoning from that weekend, which in turn prevented him from racing the weekend gone. James Flinders is mainly concentrating on downhill this year so that just left Tim Breeze and myself to steady the ship and get the season underway.

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5:30am alarm clock certainly brought a shock to the system! A Saturday race meant an early start, practice and racing on one day due to the nature of where the race was being held at. Tim and I arrived at 8:30am sadly to yet another queue at sign on, in all fairness it was less of a queue than last year but it still took 30 minutes to get our transponders. This meant a very rushed practice loop which felt like an xc race just to ride all 4 stages before racing started. So much so that we did the loop in and hour and 10 minutes, had 30 minutes to grab something to eat before making our way back up the hill to start racing as we were 1stand 2nd senior off the line.

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I have to say that the stages this year were great fun to ride, less fun to race due to the high physicality of each stage. No matter how much training you do, nothing prepares you for a full on race run. Stage 1 – Vicious Valley had the most varied terrain of the day, wooded and rooty turns into high speed straights, gap jumps, a never ending climb and bike park style rollers and trails. It was full gas right from the off.

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Stage 2 or Wibbly Wobbly started with an open hillside headwind pedal into some flat out turns, hip jumps and rock features to get you going until you headed back into the woods around some tight turns and blind fade-aways before you exited the woods and back out into the open. A traverse round your typical bike park corners and rocky outcrops all the time cranking turns of the pedals where you could untill you crossed the line.

Stage 3 Sixtapod, was probably my favourite to ride. Forget the unrelenting pedal out the gate, the next part had high speed jumps and turns, the ones you can just let rip and rail around. They were right good fun. This stage was similar to stage 2 but had more flow to it, larger more frequent jumps and was also the longest stage of the day.

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With stages 1-3 all starting at the top of the hill everyone was happy to have stage 4 start right at the bottom of stage 3. It ended up being a long day in the saddle after two full loops, totalling 23.5 miles and 3,950ft of climbing it made for a tough start to the season. Stage 4, Willy Waver, was high speed from the get go. Super fast turns and jumps, it was a case of how fast you dare go. My Garmin registered 30mph, not bad for a mini enduro stage. When the speed reduced there was a few rock sections to navigate, some 180 degree turns that required as much exit speed and pedalling you could muster until you crossed the line in a heap.

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For me I felt stronger than this time last year and felt optimistic of a good result as the day went on. I did suffer like some with a bit of cramp riding to the top after stage 1. Maybe it was from the shock of going full gas, the cold, or just being back into race mode. Luckily it didn’t strike whilst racing the stages. I managed to stay pretty clean on all the stages finishing inside the top 10 in 3 stages to land 9thoverall in senior, my best result at a bike park style of track, which don’t suit my riding style, flat pedals and preferring more technical terrain (steep mud and roots). So all in all I was pretty happy with that, a great start to my 2016 season.

Tim’s day went well also; having fun he really enjoyed racing the stages throughout the day. It’s a great event to start off the season as it gauges how fit you are for the season ahead and you get to catch up with people you don’t see outside of racing. With very little mistakes throughout the day there’s not much he could have done to better landing him 13th overall. A credible top 15 and a safe way to start the season before the big races are here.

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On that note I just want to say a big thank you to Chris Roberts, Charlie Williams and the Mini-Enduro, Welsh Gravity Enduro Series and Bike Park Wales staff. A great event, big turn out in all classes and the weather played ball. I’m sure everyone who raced will agree it certainly tested our fitness and gave us a good indication on where we need to improve.

Massive thanks to all our sponsors this year, the kit looks awesome and we really appreciate all you have done to bring together a great team set up for 2016. Cheers Leisure Lakes Bikes, Specialized UK, Muc-Off, Cycle Plan, Renthal, Sealskinz, InvisiFRAME and SIS you guys rock!!!!

And a big thank you to Dave Richardson for organising the team and bringing it all together.

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