Southern Enduro, Milland 17th April 2016

Up at 6.30 am on a Sunday, and after a quick bowl of porridge and a banana (this was serious and not the time for my usual Rice Krispies), time to load up the car and collect James G en-route to Milland.

Pulling into a sodden farmers field was our first worry, but with Matt W on hand with the disco we weren’t panicking. Cold but blue skies greeted us and after signing in and Mark T pulling on his hi-viz jacket we were good for the practice runs.

A 15 minute push up the transition stage saw us at the summit which then split into the 4 stages. Opting to avoid the queue for 1, I plumped for number 3. Ok, so this was basically very steep start into a tight off camber hairpin and then into a gap for a good line into a bermed right hander. After that the theme for almost all the stages was tight, low traction, rutted single track which punished you very heavily if you left the narrow track. Getting back up to speed anywhere was leg sapping and physical.

Another transition up and off to stage 4, followed by stage 2. After I had rearranged the starting area here (which you will see in the video to follow) and then I finally ploughed my way raggedly down stage 1, blowing out of my arse and questioning my abilities.

It was after this that I finally caught up with everyone again, as we had got separated earlier. It wasn’t a pretty sight Matt’s left hand was bound up like a mummy after nosediving and going OTB but had left his fingers in amongst the brake lever. Typically Matt being rather like the Knight guarding the bridge in Monty Python’s ‘Holy Grail’ was not showing much discomfort, no, more ‘pissed off’ would describe his emotions at this point. Mark T did the good thing and whisked him off to Guildford A&E where he later found out the offending digit was broken in 3 places! Speedy recovery Matt. Although Matt’s loss became Marks gain as he was allowed to take his slot, hurrah.

Practice over, time for chilling, food, a little tipple from our friends at the hogs back, a rinse down of the gloop from spd’s and stantions, we were good to go again. Sorrel and James’s nippers arrived, along with Cathy, Finn and Sandy, we had supporters now!

The Race

Fair to say adrenaline was flowing at the start gate, probably too much, this was my worst run down, off the track twice in stupid spots, struggled to get going again, but crossed the line and started the trudge back up. But the sun was shining, I got chatting to another rider who was just behind me, and I kind of just started to begin to really enjoy what this was all about. My new friend gave me some encouragement at the start gate to 2 and off we went again. Much better, relaxed, more flowy and no big mistakes. This was kind of how 3 & 4 went, I even styled the gap on 3 to the blood thirsty crowd that had witnessed their fair share of spills at this point. The final sprint along the field on 4 certainly finished me off, but our lovely entourage cheered me over the line. I was done in every which way.

It was good to shout encouragement at Andy, Mark and James as they crossed the line, similarly delighted that a. they hadn’t hurt themselves ( I actually heard Sorrel sigh in relief when James appeared on the horizon), and b. they had finished a very tough course without a lot left in the tank. Lots of back slapping and man stuff ensued. Hand the timing chips in, try to buy a pint from the now dried up beer tent (grrrr) and then await results.

Well bugger me I came 3rd and the TFIT massive certainly didn’t embarrass themselves, I think we will be back, Andy even asked if I fancied the Tidworth version of this next weekend whilst we drove back home, but back to our beloved labyrinth of routes around the Surrey Hills beckons for a few weeks I think.

Well done to Southern Enduro for putting together a great event, just make sure it doesn’t rain for a week beforehand next time please.