ROCK FACES
Mountain Bike Rider|October 2021
After three long years the Ard Rock enduro is back... so how did the riders rate it?
Jamie Darlow

By golly, we’ve missed this. Racing by day before partying by night; the mountain bike festival format is as old as the sport itself and taps into what most of us truly love about mtb – great riding and a sense of community.

For 18 months we’ve been denied the hedonism, but now the calendar is waking up, with events like the Enduro World Series in the Tweed Valley, the Malverns Classic, the Ex Enduro and loads more rounding out the summer season. We went along to the biggest of them all, the Ard Rock Enduro, to find out how riders felt, returning after three long years (2019 was a washout for the Dales event). Relief? Sheer bloody abandonment to hedonism? Or a more sober look at what events like this really mean to us?

EDGAR DIAZ

I’m originally from the Philippines and I’m working over in the UK now for South Eastern Railways and living in London. I first did Ard Rock back in 2018 and got an entry into the (easier) Marathon event, but this time I prayed to all the Gods (laughs) and finally got an entry into the main event. So, I got a lucky ticket and here we are.

mbr : How did you find the first two stages? On a scale of one to 10, this is definitely a 10 (laughs). Probably the hardest riding I ever did here in the UK so far. I’ve ridden Coed y Brenin and Forest of Dean, but this in the wet is something else – so slippery, so technical.

mbr : Have you enjoyed it then, or is it too much? Ha! Well, I’ve enjoyed it so far anyway (laughs), and I’ll need to see what the rest is like. I’ll definitely be back for more if I can get in next year.

JOE BARNES, TEAM ORANGE

“I’ve loved it. There are so few races nowadays where you do proper flat grass turns and natural terrain like this. It’s the purest kind of fun and reminds me of races in Scotland when we were young, like at Killin.

“Stage one and two were favourites for me as they are just so long and natural and you’ve got a mixture of gullies, scree stuff and then super- slippery woods down at the bottom with really hard pedalling in the middle. I think I managed a good time on stage one too.

“We’ve not been before and obviously we’re done racing now, so we can put our feet up and enjoy it – we’ll stay the night and enjoy all the stuff going on in the pits and the atmosphere down there – it’s just a great set-up with all the brands here and everything.”

LACHLAN BLAIR, TEAM ORANGE

“This is the first time I’ve ever done Ard Rock and I’m loving it. The tracks are just amazing. It’s been so fast and slippery today and it kind of reminds me of early SDA races where they just taped a flat corner course out in the open. We don’t get tracks like this anymore, and it’s just so much fun, like when you’re bombing down fields and the walls have been turned into jumps or rock gardens and suddenly, you’re like ‘whooah!’ – it can get pretty wild, it’s so exciting.

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