Sunday was a first for me, travelled to the new (yet in my opinion no where near finished) GNAR bike park near Penrith for a Hope PMBA Enduro. It's a small wood on a hill half way between Penrith and Carlisle, it has a steep entrance drive which was shut due to weather and making it impossible to get any vehicle up. Alternative parking was half a mile up the road in the camping field but again due to weather it was a bog, Mark was definitely not parking in that, roadside it was. Hordes of riders were gearing up and hooning it down the road to get practicing as soon as possible.
As we made our way to the sign up tent riders were scrambling for their number boards, sign on and get up the tracks to see what GNAR had to offer.
The track leading up to the stages was a taster of what was to come, thick sticky mud which filled new tyres to make them look like slicks, this was going to be one of those races! I set off into the thick woods and paired up the 5D with the 24-70 and soon realised, it's very dark in these woods. I was pushing the camera to the limits, wanting a fast shutter speed but also a big depth of field in a situation like this is difficult. I needed to find light, an opening.
Stage 6, the first major obstacle I found and felt images were to be made. A deep muddy bog. For most this was a "go as fast as possible and try to reach the other side" challenge but for a select few, they stopped, annalised and realised if they took a high line on the drop in they could swing further right and around with no penalty on time.
The second location I liked was the gap jump on stage 5. I made a new 4 legged friend, a sprocker, who loved sticks and there was no shortage to throw for the little scamp! Riders were flying thick and fast over the gap, it attracted a few spectators, hecklers and more photographers. Time to find somewhere different...
I found it. Lying down between two trees and framing the riders between some fern and twigs as they were riding down into a pool of light, golden light, the best light. The flow of riders slowed down, and with no idea why I headed up to the top of the hill to find out.
A rider unfortunately had come off on the gap jump on stage 5 and was being treated by paramedics, and because the riders had to ride each stage in order there was a huge backlog for stage 5. The air ambulance was being called and the rider was taken off to hospital, and as I type this I've seen he was able to blog his whole experience so at least he is in good health.
Whilst waiting in the queue Hope Tech rider Katherine Sharp realised her front brake was leaking, but team mechanic/rider Doddy was on hand to fix it, if only he had the right sized spanner... Katherine had just that to his amazement! The stages opened and the racing got under way again and that is when I made quick exit. The time we had sat around was over an hour and as I wanted to get photos edited before going out for a meal I needed to get going. It was a nice event to cover I just felt the venue was very lacking, it needs a lot of work doing before being a worth while visit in my opinion. The track was breaking up in parts which isn't a good sign for a newly made park, maybe this event may help it grow and it gets the maintenence it needs, who knows!