Photo Epic: Ard Rock Festival 2018

Aug 5, 2018
by Tristan Tinn  


The Santa Cruz Ard Rock Festival, supported by Maxxis and Camelbak, is well underway this weekend in the spectacular Swaledale valley in northern England. The festival provides the usual cocktail of racing, riding, expo stands from a plethora of brands and demo rides with specific loops shaken up with some live music and enough food stands to feed an army.

The event is arguably the biggest UK MTB event on the calendar this year, attracting over 4,000 competitors attempting 4 different races, and 15,000 visitors from around the globe. Saturday laid host to three events the Sprint (a short enduro loop), the Marathon and the Enduro – arguably the crown jewel.

The Enduro was graced by big names such as legends Steve Peat and Tracy Moseley along with current star and local hero Danny Hart taking a dip into the unknown.

The evening entertainment was headlined by the UK Foo Fighters, a tribute band and a host of other top quality musical talent. Saturday’s live music was also interrupted by a Maxxis Tires Pump Track Challenge, with a year's sponsorship from Maxxis up for grabs for the contest's winner. Last year's champion Jono Jones had returned to defend his title against tough challengers such as Identiti’s Pat Campbell-Jenner with well his well-known twin brother Matt Jones for support.

The weather has played ball the past two days leaving the progressive tracks packed with dust and loose rocks. The stages, while challenging to ride fast, are a great level of technicality to keep pros on their toes but managing to encourage new riders to the sport. This was my first time at the event, it is easy to see what all the hype is about.

Sign on may have divided the riders but having fun was still the name of the game
Sign on may have divided the riders but having fun was still the name of the game

The trade expo had all sorts of delights on offer to keep bike fanatics and family happy on or off the trails
The trade expo had all sorts of delights on offer to keep bike fanatics and family happy on or off the trails

Number boards are go
Number boards are go

Danny Hart gets set for the days racing
While many others form an orderly que for a fry-up
Danny Hart gets set for to race, while many others form an orderly que for a fry-up.

The first group of riders embark on the long climb to the top of Stage 1
The first group of riders embark on the long climb to the top of Stage 1.

Blue skies purple heather and an yellow brick road
Blue skies, purple heather and an yellow brick road.

Riders out of the gate on Stage 1
Riders out of the gate on Stage 1.

Stage 1 certainly provided the rock to give the event its name
Stage 1 certainly provided the rock to give the event its name; Ian Austermhule gets stuck in.

T-mo cuts into the loose shale near the top of Stage 1
T-mo cuts into the loose shale near the top of Stage 1.

Danny Hart has Damian Groves hot on his heels at the top of Stage 1
Danny Hart has Damian Groves hot on his heels at the top of Stage 1.

Steve charges the hillside eager to take the category win but he d be taking more than that
Danny Hart cuts the same high line as Peaty
Steve charges the hillside eager to take the category win, but he'd be taking more than that! Danny Hart cuts the same high line as Peaty.

Emyr Davies can take the crown for quickest in this section however shaking the ground as he passed
Emyr Davies can take the crown for quickest in this section, however, shaking the ground as he passed.

Stage two brought switchbacks lots of them. A challenge for the riders let alone a tandem.
Stage two brought switchbacks, lots of them. A challenge for the riders, let alone a tandem.

Yes there were some woods but one factor remained constant. Rocks.
Yes there were some woods, but one factor remained constant: rocks.

Plenty more rocks as Stage 3 cut through old mine workings
Plenty more rocks as Stage 3 cut through old mine workings.

The jagged hillsides provide a dramatic backdrop for a race
The jagged hillsides provide a dramatic backdrop for a race.

Meanwhile back in the festival village which more than doubled the local population
Meanwhile back in the festival village, which more than doubled the local population.

The pumptrack was getting warmed up for this evenings events
SRAM and Shimano were on hand to help see to any mechanicals
The pumptrack was getting warmed up for this evening's events and SRAM and Shimano were on hand to help see to any mechanicals.

Swaledale MRT were on site to mop up any casualties give a hand to these volunteers.
Swaledale MRT were on site to mop up any casualties, give a hand to these volunteers.

Pace ambassadors Ben Smith-Price is chased by Wesley Bruney leaving a trail of roost on Stage 6
Pace ambassadors Ben Smith-Price is chased by Wesley Bruney leaving a trail of roost on Stage 6.

Some cheeky insides were there to be had for those who bothered to find them
Some cheeky insides were there to be had, for those who bothered to find them.

Mick Kirkman from the media shows the competitors how its dont
Mick Kirkman media squid puts the e-bike through its paces on Stage 7.

Brad Illingworth clatters through the rocks
Brad Illingworth clatters through the rocks.

Getting sendy on stage 7
Getting sendy on stage 7.

Stage 7 traversed the hill side and crossed many stone walls interspersed with off cambers jumps and flat corners.
Stage 7 traversed the hill side and crossed many stone walls interspersed with off cambers, jumps and flat corners.

Guy and Freya Kestevan stole the show with his daughter on their Nicolai Helius AM 170 140 custom tandem. They mastered the swithcbacks and took to the skies on the jumps coming in with a 28 33 56 - just under 10 minutes back from Peaty s FTD. 50psi in two DH casing tyres kept the air beneath them despite all the rocks.
Guy and Freya Kestevan stole the show on their Nicolai Helius AM 170/140 custom tandem. They mastered the swithcbacks and took to the skies on the jumps coming in with a 28:33:56 - just under 10 minutes back from Peaty's FTD. 50psi in two DH casing tires kept the air beneath them despite all the rocks.

Live bands such as Zeb and UK Foo Fighters provided the finish arena sound track
Live bands such as Zeb and the UK Foo Fighters provided the finish arena sound track.

Riders were able to enjoy the sunshine and share their stories over a cold one
Riders were able to enjoy the sunshine and share their stories over a cold one.

Catering is on point with a wide range of hot food and snacks for all the family. With top quality beers and coffees to boot
Catering is on point with a wide range of hot food and snacks for all the family. With top quality beers and coffees to boot!

Mens 18-29 Enduro podium - 1st Danny Hart 2nd Emyr Davies 3rd Sam Flockhart
Mens 18-29 Enduro podium - 1st Danny Hart, 2nd Emyr Davies, 3rd Sam Flockhart

Steve Peat showed he still has it and managed to cinch the mens FTD from Danny Hart
Steve Peat still has it - he won the veteran's category, and put down the fastest time overall.

Women 30-39 Enduro podium - Tracey Moseley 1st Gemma Ingall 2nd Becci Skelton in 3rd
Women 30-39 Enduro podium - Tracy Moseley 1st, Gemma Ingall 2nd, Becci Skelton in 3rd

Women 18-29 Enduro podium - Polly Henderson 1st Chloe Taylor 2nd Hannah Saville in 3rd
Women 18-29 Enduro podium - Polly Henderson 1st, Chloe Taylor 2nd, Hannah Saville in 3rd

The charity raffle kicked off with some freebies and the crown went wild
The charity raffle kicked off with some freebies and the crown went wild

The Maxxis pumptrack challenge stole the show from the mainstage for an hour on Saturday evening.

Jono Jones gaining on the competition in the final
Jono Jones gaining on the competition in the final.

Jono Jones is congratulated on his 2nd year running as Ard Rock Pump Track Champion
Jono Jones is congratulated on his 2nd year running as Ard Rock Pump Track Champion.

The crowds gather for the UK Foo Fighters to take them into the night. A big thanks to all the team the marshalls the medical staff landowners and Dale Bike Centre for putting on quite the show.
The crowds gather for the UK Foo Fighters to take them into the night. A big thanks to all the team, the marshalls, the medical staff, landowners and Dale Bike Centre for putting on quite the show.

Full results here



Mentions: @Maxxis / @CamelBak / @tris400d




52 Comments

  • 26 3
 ‘Peaty’ what a legend!
  • 13 0
 Great weekend, no idea how they got that tandem around the switchbacks on stage 2 tho ????
  • 8 1
 First time they've managed it apparently, hats off to them! It was tight enough steering my E-Genius around them..
  • 4 0
 www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxyVPtEA-8s

Here a bike check and them riding it last year, but as you said it must take some serious skill to get that thing round switchbacks....
  • 5 0
 I had a ride on it in the arena last night and it was difficult just doing a small loop on flat grass, no idea how they navigated all 7 stages on that, crazy!
  • 13 0
 Damn, Peaty best Hart for the overall?? Interesting....
  • 1 5
flag mollow (Aug 7, 2018 at 6:26) (Below Threshold)
 Damn, one of the greatest racers of all time beat an over-rated youngster? I'm shocked
  • 7 0
 Signed up for the first (i think it was the first) one a few years ago, over a year in advance of the date iirc.
Had a baby (idiot) who was due to arrive (and did arrive) the week of the event (at totally the other end of the country) so Luckily, I found someone to take my place.
Even 6 months before the event, No refunds, no transfers. AR would sell my buddy my place at full RRP if I wanted.

Still bitter
  • 2 1
 I'm sure your post will get erased soon mate as anything slightly negative is getting deleted it seems #letsgetstalinesque ????
  • 8 0
 Great photos Tristan. Hell of an inside line there
  • 2 0
 Ain't it just, cheers
  • 2 0
 Looks like another good year at ard rock. shame i missed it! as a thought, should pro racers be allowed to enter the pump track competition? seems a bit unfair to us mere mortals. surly they have better things to do than spank the 'normal' rider at such an event ¬!
  • 3 1
 Er, where has my thread gone talking about queues etc? Why is pinkbike deleting threads? Are we not allowed to discuss any (even slightly) negative points about the festival?

Edit: the original post got hidden, not deleted. Apologies...
  • 2 0
 This your first time on pinkbike?
  • 1 0
 @fatduke: No, but usually hidden posts are still there but minimised aren't they? These ones seemed to have disappeared altogether until you click the "negative posts are hidden" link
  • 4 0
 Didn’t Peaty used this constantly bad mouth enduro. . . And claim that he would never participate in one??
  • 1 1
 Oh shhhhh ... no disssing the king gggggg
  • 1 0
 Naa - he said it was fun and he enjoyed them with mates, but not in his opinion a good sport for riding as a professional.
  • 1 0
 Mates and I registered as mid pack riders. Set off at 8.00 with Danny Hart and a load of other elite riders even finished with them about 5 minutes slower on the stage times though. So not sure how the seedings worked. We managed not to get in their way. Somehow
  • 3 0
 I respect the Lyrik but that tandem should have a dual crown on it...no comprende.
  • 3 0
 Anything to help push the limits of the already limited turning circle I guess!
  • 3 0
 Now imagine a Nicolai Geometron tandem!
  • 12 0
 the only bike that could finish a stage as it starts
  • 3 0
 6th one and felt like the Ardest one yet.
  • 2 0
 Steve was 4 seconds faster than Hart?
  • 2 0
 Great pics. What a cracking weekend and event all round!
  • 3 2
 Steve Peat Back At It Again Charging Danny!!!
  • 1 0
 Peaty looks so much more composed on that section... Loving his knee hip style allways finding the best grip and balance...
  • 1 0
 that looked like a ton o fun. stoked to read about peaty's excellent ride!
  • 1 0
 but where was rob warner during all o this?
  • 3 0
 Outside of the beer tent rob isn't going to be touching this with a barge pole. There's just short of 1500m climbing
  • 1 0
 @tufty: Its literally climbing on some of it to. bike hiking.
  • 1 0
 @robhowells87: Yes 4 to 5 is tough
  • 1 0
 @tufty: My one goal this year was to ride that clear. It's a good job too, because I punctured on stage 1.
  • 1 0
 Mick Kirkman giving new meaning to "tripod cornering".
  • 7 9
 It’s a shame that this once perfectly small event has grown to this monstrosity. I wonder if the queues were still as bad as a couple of years ago. I shall never return back as it has been completely commercialised.
  • 5 1
 The queue for drinks was crazy. Why they didn't have more bars is beyond me- maybe licensing issues? Showers were also bad, and food took a while too but I hate queueing for anything!
  • 8 4
 Wow. I think it’s better off without you then as about 15,000 people had an awesome weekend (without any queing problems). I bet you’re the kind of person who likes bands before they get famous. Yeesh!
  • 5 0
 @OrangeGoblin: I still enjoyed it thanks and thought it was a good event. But the queue for the bar was massive, so we went up the road to the local pub where Danny Hart and Peaty happened to be hanging out. Not sure what you're on about with the band comment tbh but I bet you're the kind of person who likes to start arguments on bike forums ;-) Yeesh!
  • 1 2
 @mulv1976: I wasn’t talking to you.
  • 1 0
 @mulv1976: and I agree about the bar.
  • 1 0
 @OrangeGoblin: oh, sorry lol
  • 4 0
 Simple solution - bring your own beer. No queueing involved.
  • 1 0
 @Davec85: We did that too, but it's nice to get a beer from the bar sometimes.
  • 2 0
 I kinda feel the same way, too big for me. I last went a few years ago and had to give up the racing side of it halfway through stage 1 as there were a queue of riders blocking the top of a rocky chute and one halfway down it I had to swerve around off and I went OTB. Im certainly not fast but every stage I got caught behind riders who refused to move over. Its a good day out in the hills but don't see the point without the racing element I can do that anytime without hordes of riders who go paralysed when they see a rock or anything more than a gentle gradient. I know the elites manage to do meaningful racing but they must either allow 2min time gaps for the rider in front or make sure they're out first thing.
  • 2 0
 @fingerbangextreme: When you register you can do so as an elite which gives you an earlier start time with less traffic. As for the rocky chute you must have had a bad day as the marshalls pull anyone who refuses to the side to let people go down and there isn't always an easy place to pull over. Part of me thinks you just didn't realise how Ard it was going to be and spat your dummy out a bit.
  • 2 1
 @fatduke: I know you didn't reply to me but I have been twice now and the first time we had a blast - it was still small and relatively unknown. The second time is when things went pear shaped and I experienced long wait times, poor and overpriced food, useless showers, etc. I definitely did not have any marshals on the course who pulled slower riders out.
  • 3 0
 I agree that ques were an issue. Had to que for registration, food, coffee, bar, and even to get onto the campsite. They need to relax the times that they open the site. The people of Yorkshire were so very welcoming. Loads of people came out of their houses to cheer and wave. No locals seemed grumpy that roads were blocked ect.
  • 1 0
 Looks like a standard Geometron
  • 2 1
 Best day out on a bike you could ever have in the UK... Thanks Ard Rock!
  • 1 0
 Loved it and good time apart from a puncture on 4 grrrrr
  • 1 0
 Im gutted I missed this

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