The first Enduro of the season for me was the first round of the Pedalhounds series held at Canada Heights MXGP track on the 24th of February. Canada Heights is situated in Essex, just off the M25 near Brands Hatch.
After an early start, I arrived at the track for 9am, leaving an hour to sign on and have a quick track walk. With 20 minutes to spare, I had a look at a couple of the closer runs, paying attention to any technical features. I’m not too worried about walking the whole sections as I find line choice is something best decided at speed on the bike, I like to feel how the bike reacts to the track and that’s quite difficult to feel on foot!
The circuit consisted of 4 timed downhill sections with the transitions between un-timed so you can transition at your own speed. We were racing a mash-up format of 4 laps, 16 sections in total giving you an overall time, plenty of runs to iron out any mistakes but hang about and it costs your overall time!
After riders briefing we were let loose on to the course, half the riders starting on sections 3 & 4 and half on 1 & 2 to try and ease congestion. Section 1 & 2 were quite tight and twisting single track through a wood adjacent to the car park. First time through section 1 I felt pretty fast, there was one off camber corner I ran quite wide on and had to avoid a tree! It took me till the last lap to get this corner dialed as everybody was running wide and it was only when I killed a bit of extra speed, I managed to keep my momentum through the corner; something to definitely work on with my technique! A quick sprint to the finish and on to section 2. Much the same with a lot of pedalling for optimum speed, section 2 turned out to be my fastest section!
On to 3 & 4, both were a pretty flat out mix of dirt and grass embankments used for spectating the MX circuit, 3 even had the start gate in the pedestrian tunnel that crosses the track, which was interesting as you try and put the power down out of the gate! The flat out grass sections of 3 were super slippery first thing in the morning but were drying nicely as the day went on. The Maxxis tyres keeping me upright until the 2nd lap when I pushed into one of the tight, off camber bowl sections and washed the front end, not so much a lack of grip bit more me pushing a little too hard! With the clock still running I jumped back on the bike and completed the section with my bars at 45 degrees. Back to the van for a quick bit of Allen key work and I was on my way again, my Bell Super 3r helmet taking most of the impact from the crash just shows how important full face helmets are when racing!
As the laps rolled by and the course dried out, my times were improving by 2 seconds a run on average and I was happy with my progress despite being held up on track a couple of times by slower riders, this, unfortunately, is part of racing and it is your responsibility to gauge the skill of the rider in front and adjust your start delay accordingly.
In spite of the hold-ups and crash which cost me valuable time I was able to place 9/17 in Ebikes 16-39, I’m quite happy with the result, crashes are an unavoidable part of it and to walk away with no injury or bike damage is a plus! The Giant E-Trance performed faultlessly, I’m super happy with my suspension set up and there’s no problem with grip so tyres will be staying put for now! I will have a little play with brake set up before the next race as the bite point was a little close to the grips for my liking. The Yamaha motor pulled like a train out of the start gate and even after 16 stages and transitions I still had 60% battery left, very impressive! Next race is Rd1 of the Welsh Enduro at Foel Gasnach on the 30th of March so plenty of time for more training and practice!
Thanks for reading!