On Sunday morning, October 20th, a dry and chilly day, there was a long queue of women standing nervously in line. They were waiting to sign on to the renowned and celebrated Hopetech Women Enduro - The Best Women´s Event of the Year.
The course, 18KM´s of Gisburn´s best Red trails was primed and ready for over 300 female racers to turn some rubber. For many of them it was their first race, for others, such as Tracey Mosely, Katy Curd and Martha Gill, it was a race amongst heroes.
To set the scene, you can imagine hoards of friendly volunteers, marshalling at every junction, stoking the fire of the fire pit and keeping the pancake plate pancaked up. There were spectators lining the stages with fog horns, cow bells and tambourines, predominantely men and children. And there were fairy lights! A race course with fairy lights!!
As the first stage was perhaps the most technical, combined with a general misty, damp gloominess, it was considered by the dream team at Hope Tech that perhaps it could be brightened up and made less intimidating by a gentle, glowing touch. It´s that attention to detail that makes the this event stand out from the rest.
At 1150 the first racers set off in waves, gaggles of groups with plenty of time to make their starts and the racing focused on the downhills. The pro-women started off at the back, knowing that they, too, were comfortable to make it around the whole course. And the weather held out, always hit-and-miss in the UK, but with a tiny drizzle towards the end of practice, there really is nothing that can be complained about.
The racing itself was a mix of have-a-go, "you go in front of me as I´m probably slow," high-fives and seriously smashing it. A unique blend of friendliness, support and competition. Most people had their sights set on the clock, not on each other, trying to do the best they could.
The stages were varied and each distinct in it´s style and riding feel, allowing riders to play to different strengths. As mentioned, the first stage, Home Baked, was possibly the hardest, with damp roots and techy lines (but everything had chicken lines if wanted). After that baptism of fire, satge 2 was quite open with big flag stones to ride over. The touted most fun of the the day was the Hope Line, jam packed with flowy berms, jumps and drops.
We´ll be catching up with some of the racers over the coming weeks, to give you an insight from different perspectives. But it is safe to say that those nerves from the queue at the start of the day had turned into beaming smiles, muddy faces and 330 women going home with a story to tell about their day.
For the race results click HERE
To find photos of yourself click HERE
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