PMBA Enduro Graythwaite Preview

19 August 2020  |  

To put it mildly, 2020 has not been an easy year for anyone, and race organisers are certainly amongst those seriously impacted by the years events. Just take a look at the race calendar, it's like an airports flight board during a snowstorm: cancellations and postponements everywhere.

PMBA Graythwaite 2020 Preview

With the races and whole series cancelled left, right and centre throughout the year there has definitely been a drought of races. Talking to many mountain bikers and seasoned racers there is definitely a thirst to get back into the action, when the time is right, and at the right event.

This is where the PMBA fits in very nicely. On the weekend of the 5th/6th of September they will be hosting the Graythwaite round that was originally scheduled for May bank holiday. With all other races in the series cancelled the PMBA Enduro team have been constantly monitoring the situation with a view to delivering an event whenever legal and possible. Once the rules changed in mid July its been all hands on deck to deliver one epic weekend of racing. What better event to run than "The Epic"?

The event runs over two days with the well rehearsed structure of practice on Saturday, racing on Sunday. Nothing complicated there. Camping is provided on the Friday and Saturday night but riders are encouraged to maintain social distancing and follow the government guidelines. Again, nothing complicated. The PMBA Enduro race series have expended a great deal of time and effort into ensuring rider, marshall and medic safety, whilst the race runs as smoothly as ever. These are race organising veterans in unprecedented times (we had to use that phrase at least once, right?), so everything is being considered carefully. The aim of the game as always is top class racing done right.

This race, an EWS qualifier, is probably the most technical and demanding race in the PMBA Enduro race series. With steep technical rocky, rooty trails, this ain’t no trail centre race, it’s all natural with loam a plenty. It’s not a grass routes event, this round always tests the riders; its one of the reasons its an EWS qualifer. With seven stages across the beautiful grounds within the private land of Graythwaite Estate this is a race not to be missed. Here is a rundown of the stages as described by Kev Duckworth the race organiser.

PMBA Graythwaite 2020 Preview

Transition 1 – 70% pedal 30% Walk

Stage 1 – Vinny’s Divorce Statement.

You’ll be pleased to know Vinny is still married, in fact the wife even did a days digging on this stage. This stage was first used last year and has been extended for 2020. This is a perfect intro into the lap, starting with amazing views of Windermere you are quickly in the trees, riding rocky chutes, hucking senders and railing berms. It is however not a warm-up stage, your straight into typical Graythwaite raw tech, and there’s a few pro-line hucks for the brave. 2.5 mins, 350ft, 20% average

Transition 2 – 50% Pedal, 50% Walk

Stage 2 – Tamed Scorpion.

Featured on every event since 2016 this stage was getting fairly battered and has always been a bit “gnadgery” so last year it was refreshed, widened and tamed. More flow, less features but still a monster of a stage – the longest on the course. From the highest point of the lap, starting on a craggy outcrop you’ll soon be in the trees, and then the flatter section, but this stage is called scorpion for a reason – it just keeps getting steeper! The final section of the upper woods is straight down, feeding you into the bottom third of the stage known as “happy ending” After steep and technical woods you’re out into more open trees and fast flowing trail to put a smile on your face. 4 mins, 630ft, 16% average

Transition 3 – 70% -90% Walk (but short)

Stage 3 – Gary the Polar Bear.

After the short walk from the end of Scorpion your up at the start of a firm favourite, the short but immensely fun “Gary”. The technical start is typically raw Graythwaite, but then jump through the wall and into the more open woods for some warp speed singletrack all the way to the bottom. 2mins, 300ft, 18% average

Transition 4 – 95% Pedal on tarmac

Stage 4 – Ridgelines, Roots, Rocks and Roost

The name says it all, although it now also has some ruts! In more open woodland for fast and flowy fun. 2 mins, 300ft, 16% average.

Transition 5 – 98% Pedal on tarmac (and past the Esthwaite water cafe)

Stage 5 – Remainiac

Running parallel to stage 4, it is more fast and flowy fun in open woodland. 2 mins, 300ft, 18% average.

Transition 6 – 99% Pedal tarmac/fireroad (and past the Esthwaite water cafe again)

Stage 6 – Nicks Party Line

Back for a 3rd year, starting with awesome views along a clear-fell ridge-line you soon drop into open woodland, with rock drops, jumps and slabs before hitting the recently felled section. Not quite sure exactly what we’ll rebuild here, leaving a lot of the fine detail to trailbuilder Kenny. Topped off with a flowy pedally fast finishing section. 3 mins, , 20% average.

Transition 7 – 50% Pedal 50% Walk

Stage 7 – Sublime Ride

All the way back to the top of black brows and stage 7 starts next to stage 1, but this time you're going straight down! You start out carving turns in open land, the bracken has strimmed into a wide track, exposing dusty loam to blast through. Not long till you’re at “that” steep S-bend, even more gnarly than previous years (just through use) we expect the b-line to be heavily used. As you head towards the trees and its super gnarly with exposed roots, slow down compose yourself and get the right line ….. see the bridge, and let go of the brakes and get some flow. The techy stuff done you can breathe and enjoy the rest of the stage. 2 mins, 300ft, 20% average.

PMBA Graythwaite 2020 Preview

The complete loop looks to be around 15 miles, with 3000ft of climbing, but these are lake district miles, and the course will take 4-5 hours. As you can see above there's a huge variation in the stages, nothing like trail centres, just pure natural bliss.

We asked Kev to address any concerns riders may have around the event. It's important to remember there are 2 factors to bear in mind. Firstly Larch disease is in the area, so it will be important to follow advice given over the weekend regarding the cleaning/washing of tyres between certain areas.You'll get plenty of advice regarding this. Secondly, as we all know, there are certain guidelines in place due to the pandemic, most importantly social distancing. You'll notice that the race finish into the camping arena is no longer, nor will there be an arena. This is simply to discourage riders gathering en mass. With the race euphoria that usually occurs, it's easy to forget to watch out for each other and stay safe. Anyone with any symptoms should not come to the race, but we all know this. Camping and parking is provided in the grounds of Graythwaite and is free of charge (included in the overall price). Please check here for more information.

Spectators are unfortunately being discouraged too, as per the guidelines. Finally media and photographers numbers will be limited . Anyone wishing to take photos with the purpose of selling will have to apply directly to the organiser to seek accreditation. Preference will be given to those that have covered the PMBA series the most. This is solely for the purpose of keeping the riders, the marshals, the medics and organisers safe, whilst also protecting the forests from Larch disease. You'll be allocated a stage on the Saturday, then a different stage on the Sunday. To apply for this accreditation you'll need to send an email including PLI (£5 million), event risk assessment and a separate Covid specific risk assessment to [email protected] This needs to be submitted at least 10 days prior to the event (26th August 2020)

It would be criminal to miss out on this race if you feel up to it. Remember, this isn't really a newbie race, you have been warned. For more information and the rider briefing head here. If you feel like the challenge, here's the link to enter. Finally if you want to keep up to date with daily updates and hear Kev chanting "Gooooooood morning Endurooooooooo fans" head over to their Facebook pages.

Words by Adam Sherratt @adam_sherratt_photography & Jerry Tatton (JWDTphotography)

PMBA Enduro Series Organiser Kev Duckworth 

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