When you have had a long and intense race season, you really just need a fun way to wrap it all up. Muckmedden deliver just that in the form of the Fair City Enduro, and being only a few days before Halloween why wouldn’t you make it fancy dress. The Muckmedden enduros always have a really fun vibe about them, but with this event also being an Enduro World Series qualifier event it pulled in a lot of fast riders looking to score some extra points before the 2019 season. This enduro was to be raced blind (no practice day), it would be interesting to see how the EWS contenders fared against the local riders.
Amazingly for October the weather played out really well. With snow on the surrounding hills I was worried this race would be a slop-fest, but no rain and bluebird skies meant bone dry trails, and just a bit of frost in the shadows of the trees. Over 380 riders brightened up Perth City Center, lots of high spirits mostly laughing at each-others costumes. I just had to resurrect my infamous unicorn costume for my final race in the UK.
Stage 1 – Bob’s your Uncle, Fanny’s your Aunt – The transfer out of the city center to the top of the hill for stage one was probably the longest pedal of the day, made even trickier by the very low sunlight coming through the trees and blinding us. We eventually came to one of the high points on Duchney Hill, and the start of stage one. The top half of the stage was brilliant fun, loamy corners between the tree roots, a steep corner, and small drop on to a fast off camber trail. However after crossing the fire road we were plunged in to complete darkness, the sunlight hadn’t got through the forest yet, and whichever rider had lights on his bars definitely had the right idea. As we were zipping through tight loamy corners trying not to clip our handlebars on the trees we couldn’t even see.
Stage two – Rock Hudson – This stage started on the same part of the hill as stage one. The trail conditions were very similar, running dry and loamy, but where the sunlight hadn’t creeped through yet there was still some frost on the tree roots, which meant sometimes you had loads of grip, and the next second one of your wheels was heading in completely the wrong direction. A steep and techy chute lead racers down to the fire road crossing, a quick uphill sprint and back in to those dark woods. Well almost as dark, by this point there was a little bit more light, but it didn’t make much difference for navigating the sharp corners. Despite the low visibility you certainly couldn’t miss ‘rock hudson’. This giant boulder sat in the middle of the trail, with the quickest line being straight up and over, and no idea what was on the other side, you just had to hope there was a way out on the other side.
Stage 3 – Armageddon in to Hobbits Borrow – An old classic of a trail, still on the Ducheny side of the forest, but starting from a different hill this time. A big change in pace from the first two stages, this trail started with a long string of whoops and pumps through the clearing at the top of the hill, where you could really pick up speed. Racers really needed to hold on to this speed as there was a nasty steep climb that went on longer than you expected. After the climb we dropped down a rough chute, across the freeride track, and in to a section of trail called ‘Hobbits Borrow’. This fun bit of trail cut through the trees and loam with plenty of rocks and roots to make it really interesting.
Stage 4 – Smiler and Freeride – Back to the top of the same hill as stage 3, with similar fast whoops over the old tree stumps and rocks, but then after sliding down a rocky slab, and trying to stay high getting over a rooty section we came to the top of the freeride park. This is where you really had to get on the gas. The track starts with a kicker, a drop, step up, another drop, and big table, and just as you get full speed out of the berm the track was taped a tight right. Down some natural single track which was hit or miss as to whether the corner was a proper berm or just a pile of leaves.
Stage 5 – Bermy Cliffton – A quick transition across to Kinnoull Hill took us to the final two stages of the day. Even though this was a blind enduro Stage 5 still took everyone by surprise. It had a brilliant start, with some nice steep corners and fast straights in between. It was quite tricky to keep the wheels on the narrow track and avoid either clipping trees or sliding under the tape and down the hill. However about half way along the stage the track started to climb, and not like the climb in stage 3 where it was a couple of punchy steep climbs, this one went on forever. One of those mid race climbs where you can hear your own heart beat and taste your lungs, it was definitely a test of fitness. However it eventual started to drop again and we were rewarded with some fantastic switchbacks to pop in and out of.
Stage 6 – Cliff Run – A steep climb back up to the top of Kinnoull Hill and to the start of the final stage. The start of stage 6 ran almost parallel to stage 5, making use of the steep sections riders had to go full commitment to get up the steep uphill bits of trail that always seemed to follow. In between these bits the trail flowed brilliantly and fast all the way back down to city level.
So as expected Muckmedden always know how to put on a really good fun and relaxed race to finish off the season. With amazing trails, perfect weather for it, and a lot of laughs and silly costumes. Managing to finish 4th place in category was a pretty good spot to finish up in, and should give me plenty of points to tackle the first couple of rounds of the Enduro World Series next year.