Orange’s Beard Manager Pete Scullion talks to us about the 2012 Fort William Endurance Downhill
The guys at No Fuss Events certainly have made their mark with bicycle races that aren’t run of the mill and the Hope Endurance Downhill might be considered the least welcoming to the average mountain biker. That does rather throw the event into a rather bad light, which is certainly not the intention.
For me, this is THE race of the year, what all the training and riding is for. Over the last three years I have struggled to tame the beast and come out the wrong side of happy with my result. It all boils down to fitness and preparation. The secrets of an issue-free 6 hours are only gained by experience.
6 hours riding anywhere is going to be tough, riding once down the Nevis Range downhill track, used year-on-year for the World Cup and world famous for it’s roughness and physicality, is pretty hard on the body as well. It takes the zest of masochism to want to do this race.
So the event was preceeded this year by a flurry of activity that culminated in a the Orange Mountain Bikes Sprinter being loaded with a 322 each for me, Singletracks’ Chipps, Vaughan; a Patriot for Lowepro’s Tim Sadler and a 224 EVO for our man with the crayons, John Chennells. A 6 hour drive later and myself with co-pilot Vaughan arrived to demolish a curry and get some rest in.
Race day started early with the Orange Mountain Bikes Sprinter turning into our HQ, erected at the finish line. I quickly got kit on and went to get some practice in. Madness in many people’s eyes, an extra 2 laps on top of the 6 hours to come? Preparation again. Finding my rhythm on the bike and on track following some tweaks to the suspension meant I was confident going into the main event.
The sprint to the bikes didn’t go so badly for me, I started at the very back and made up half the pack before I got to my bike. Bonus. The sprint up the hill on the bikes was brutal and seems to get longer every time. I’d chosen moto pants over shorts as I was confident the weather would turn. It did eventually, but Mother Nature played a trump card and the sun was beating down on us and disappeared as soon as I got on the hill. I didn’t push as hard on the climb this year as I found myself wobbly on track giving 100% on the up. That approach may change for next year as time on track is key.
From the start of run 1, everything blurs. Consistency is key and I’m pleased to say my first 8 of 13 runs were all within 13 seconds of each other. Vaughan gathered pace mid-race and started laying down some hot laps to tally as many as myself, just with a slower overall. Chipps kept plugging away but wasn’t hassled by bruises from an off sustained in practice. A most respectable 12 for Chipps. Tim tried to punch a rock out the way and lost, game over early on for him. We’re surprised John even made it onto the hill and 2 runs doesn’t do justice to the gammy-ness of his back.
Thanks to Pete at Orangebikes for taking the time to put this together.
Thanks also to Orange’s John Chennells and Michael Bonney for the photos.
Last but not least – a huge shout to our friends at No Fuss Events for another amazing Endurance Downhill.