QECP Day & Night Enduro
By Ruairi Phelan, KREEK Racing Team, Junior Category
We arrived at the County Park on a glorious sunny Saturday afternoon. The arena looked spectacular with a fantastic display of trade stands and of course the big Control Marquee. Got signed-up and ready for for practice. The word was out to specifically ride Stage 2, as it had a couple of steep gnarly bits to contend with!!
The KREEK team comprised of Tom Parker, James Henderson, Roo Phelan and Joe Parker riding U18, whilst the legend that is Alan Richardson, ex National BMX Veteran Champion, was racing his first Enduro for the team.
Practice got underway but within a view 100 metres a spoke broke on my rear wheel only to poke through the rim tape to give me a flat. Luckily I had packed my spare wheels and got back to the car to leave the punctured wheel to be fixed by the grease monkeys (dads) James and Chris – thanks.
Practice although in daylight was indeed useful, the trails were tacky, rain the day before had left the chalk singletrack slippy, especially the off camber sections. The course in general had good flow with some technical steep sections that were going to mess with your head in the dark. We took it nice and steady and got back to the arena equipped for the night ahead. Alan especially liked Stages 3 and 4 but did not get on with Stage 2 at all – he had visions of trouble ahead and was not relishing it! James and Chris had sorted by back wheel, extra gorilla tape over the rim tape and spoke eyelet sealed – was good to go!
All the lads left the arena in and around 8pm, it was nearing twilight and lucky for us Stage 1 would not need lights. The start featured a natural section with rutted corners leading into a tricky off camber sections involving some tight tree dodging. Next came some flat corners before dropping down onto the first fire road followed by a series of looping wide corners, which then dropped onto the second fire road followed by a series of quick loose switch back turns, at this stage I was really ragging it, but It was here that I lost control and had a little off but recovered quickly to sprint to the finish. I felt a bit gutted but later I found out that I had the fastest overall time of the day on Stage 1!
Stage 2 was twilight, its that horrible time where the lights were needed but not that effective. The start was similar to the last stage with a series of rutted corners, then came the steep stuff, it was really loose and the hecklers had indeed found the right spot. Just my luck I had a tumble on the last corner which gave the hecklers something to shout about. It was then onto the first fire road followed by fresh off camber riding through a steep loose gully comprising of five switch backs. Then came the magnetic tree, a deep rut had been created during practice which if you didn’t take the high line you found yourself face to face with that very tree! Luckily I had got it right but later I was to hear that Alan got tangled up with another tree hugger and ended up on the floor! The finish was straight forward with just a couple of twisting corners after the second fire road.
Stage 3 started with a huge pedally section, sounds terrible, but in fact it flowed really well with plenty of humps, bumps and twists which enabled you to pump and pedal quickly, then dropped into some loose corner sections to the finish, it was all over in a flash, very quick stage.
Stage 4 was the lung buster. It began with a long pedal which included some tricky root and rock sections. A number of bus stops had been inserted in the middle part which slowed the pace down and made the stage so much more challenging. The closing trails flowed with some twisting corners interspersed with some rock gardens and hairpin corners which were good to skid around, then it was the sprint into the floodlit arena – all done.
The new timing chips meant we could get our result immediately, to my surprise I had taken the win, it had not been a perfect performance but I had done enough to finish 13 seconds ahead. Tom came in a strong 3rd 14 seconds back, whilst his brother Joe finished 6th and James 8th. Then it was back to the closing section to cheer in Alan, he had given it everything and came in 11th, panting and bruised he had had a great time and promised his return! We all gathered together for a complimentary beer and podium time, the atmosphere was superb with many of the riders and followers hanging back for the 5 place podium presentation. To top the evening off not only had I won my category but finished 5th fastest in all categories and Tom 8th, a really good team performance. It was yet again a fantastic event and we will back for more in July and definitely for Day & Night in 2016.