Race Report: PMBA Enduro Series Round 4 - Llangollen

Aug 15, 2019
by DialledinUK-race-photography  
Views: 610    Faves: 2    Comments: 0

Last weekend saw the PMBA Enduro Series return from their quick summer break. This was the first time the PMBA Enduro Series had ventured west across to the Welsh hills. This was to be no ordinary race as the venue was one of the most favoured downhill race venues in the UK.

Some riders told me they felt intimidated by this hillside

There's an incredible vintage feel to Llangollen, with its famous steep tracks hosting Downhill races since 2009, and not small races. Hosting the national champs twice in 2011 & 2015, and a national downhill (BDS) round every year from 2009-2017. The list of racers who have won here is a real who's who of downhillers. Josh Bryceland, Danny Hart, Matt Walker, Brenden Fairclough, Gee & Rachael Atherton, Katy Curd, Manon Carpenter, Tahnee Seagrave and even the 1st lady of Enduro Tracey Moseley, who won the National DH Champs here in 2011 before switching to enduro during the 2012 season.

The atmosphere all over the hill was electric

Outside of racing events, you're only allowed to ride these trails if you are a "One Giant Leap" club member, a bargain at only £20/year; or at one of the regular weekend uplifts. The downhill trails at Llangollen have been carved out of the hillside and carefully crafted into some of the finest tracks you can find by the One Giant Leap team. The main ethos is to build and develop tracks that are accessible for all, regardless of ability. All the tracks are challenging that have been built here, but, like the PMBA Enduro events, the main emphasis has been on fun, for riders from beginners to elites alike. Behind the scenes at Llangollen is Martin and a dedicated team of trail builders and maintainers. Martin is the landowner, sheep farmer, trail builder, uplift driver and all round hero to many.

Ian Austermuhle, fastest rider of the day

This was one of the biggest events at Llangollen in its entire history. While 400 riders entered the race, the threat of weather kept some away and a few chose not to race after finding out their idea of steep and Llangollen steep are quite different. But I'm sure you'll agree, whether a downhill race, or enduro race it was immense seeing the hill come alive again for a race weekend. Dare I mention the weather? The whole weekend had been threatened by storms, gale force winds and the threats of floods, but this just didn't materialise as threatened. Yes there was rain and wind, but not nearly as bad as the forecasters had predicted. This was an incredible blessing when you think of the hardships that have faced the likes of Ardrock and the Malverns Classic.

Meg Whyte fastest woman

bigquotesProbably the toughest event I've done this year. They delivered 3 cracking stages with a mash up format. As the tracks dried throughout the day the times got quicker and quickerIan Austermuhle

This was a bold move for organiser Kev. Llangollen is well known for its steepness and downhill style trails. But with Kev's experience and vision it was clear what had to be done. In order to host an Enduro race at a downhill venue Kev had to put in some mid stage climbs. The reason for doing this was to level the playing field so that people with downhill bikes, potentially quicker on the steep and technical bits, would then have to negotiate uphill sprints, more suited to enduro style bikes. Also, literally every rider had to push up large sections of the hill to get to the top to race back down. It was a tough day on and off the bike.

Scott Fisher, one young gun to watch out for in the future

bigquotesthe most challenging race I’ve done so far but it was absolutely sick! Awesome event. Can’t wait for next year..........everything hurts12 year old Hollie Vayro

Leah Tullock another young gun to keep your eyes on

Not only was this a new venue for the PMBA Enduro Series, but also a different race style. Though it was still an enduro, it was a mash up across 3 stages. Race all the stages, in any order as many times as you can and then it's the best times that count. With all 3 stages finishing in the bottom field, riders could live check/update their timing chips and assess their progress or positioning.The 3 stages, (1) Esquilo, (2) Main Line and (3) The Steeps. All of the stages had rollable features and also alternate lines available.

Joe Young in the thick of the action

There are 12 categories in a PMBA Enduro Series race (that includes hardtail), so too many to comment on here, but a full rundown of all the results can be found on roots and rain.

Lean it boy

The overall fastest male across the 3 stages was Ian Austermuhle (30-39) in 7:31.31 followed closely by Josh Gleave (21-29) in 7:33.47 and 3rd fastest was Ian Taylor (21-29) in 7:35.05. Can you believe that 4 seconds separated the top 5 fastest times of the day. Racing rarely gets as tight as this, it was an immense fight for the top spot.

All 3 finishes came together in the bottom field

The women also put on a great race with Meg Whyte (21-34), no stranger to steep downhill style tracks, coming in fastest and putting in a time of 9:12.36, second fastest went to Toni Fryer (21-34) in 9:51.44 and 3rd place to Ellie Jones in 10:14.44.

This was a cracking weekends racing. With Saturday providing an optional practice for some brave enough the chance the weather, costing just £10 to cover the costs of marshals and medics, the rest of the money raised helped make a donation to the North West Air Ambulance Charity as part of the 2019 #RootingForCallum appeal. The whole weekend had a great buzz and vibe. With the event centre and parking right at the bottom of the hill, many riders were able to refuel with liquid and carbs, fix their bikes and not have to carry spares and nourishment around the course. Put it in your diaries for next year (8th August 2020), it will be bigger and better. The plan will be for 5 stages!

Steep, mean steep

bigquotesA proper enduro with hard climbs and even harder descents! Great fun in some sketchy conditions! Loved it!Meg Whyte

Next up for the PMBA Enduro Series is round 5 at the amazing Kirroughtree trail centre in Scotland. This one is definitely not to be missed. A great weekend to drag the whole family to and even a FREE kids race on the Saturday, it's all about getting them started young! For more information head over to their website here or facebook pages here for more information.

Enduro uphill sprint, bring on the pain!

Early morning race and the fields were challenging

Dropping into stage 3 "the steeps"

Sending off the features

Until next time, stay rubber side down!

Race report and photos brought to you by @JWDTphotography
Video by @whitenosugar


  • 5 0
 Didn’t feel like that though as most people did the stages at least twice which for your average mid pack dude is 20 minutes of racing. It was a mint weekend and with being so close to Manchester and Liverpool was accessible to lots of people
  • 3 0
 Guess that was a reply to Lee @MysticMCyclist ?
  • 1 0
 @pmbaenduro: it was yes
  • 4 0
 well that looks like an epic day's riding! are these tracks available to ride on an uplift day or were they just for the race?
  • 5 0
 All the DH tracks are available on uplifts, the lower field sprints aren't as a rule.
  • 2 0
 @pmbaenduro: awesome.

full series dates for next year?
  • 4 0
 @AidanWilson: only Graythwaite and Llangollen dates announced, May 2/3rd and August 8/9th respectively.

Full calendar by mid October, all on sale Saturday 16th November 9am
  • 4 0

Tickets on sale 16th November 2019 (provisional)

Gisburn - late March
Graythwaite - 2/3rd May
Lee Quarry & Havok - mid June (provisionally 20/21st)
Llangollen - 8/9th August
Kirroughtree - early September (provisionally 13th)
Grizedale - early October (Provisionally 4th October)
  • 5 0
 ....5 Stages next year!...oh god!
  • 4 0
 But a traditional enduro, not a mash up. So only 5 times up the hill, not 6-11 like some did this year!
  • 5 0
 @pmbaenduro: Well I binned it and did the splits half way down Stage 1, pulled a hammy and gave myself a dead butt cheek! I could have done a few more downhill runs but I couldn't ride or even push back up! So my 19 mins for Stage 1 killed my overall Hah! Nevermind....brilliant weekend though, definitely back next year!
  • 3 0
 @pmbaenduro: I only managed 4 times up ...fitness needs to be worked on BLOODY loved stage 3 though
  • 1 0
 @pirateluke: Easy sighting run down Stage 3, got a rock stuck between my swingarm and wheel on Stage 2, then wiped out on Stage 1. So 3 runs only on race day....good practice for next year though?
  • 2 0
 @djlucas: Thats a pain! indeed! and hell yes although 5 or 6 times up the hill I will need to train for! hoping to get all but Kirrutree (Pardon my spelling) in next year ..hopefully even if i come last in all of them ill do well on the overall XD
  • 4 0
 That sounds like a great event.
  • 5 0
 August 8/9th 2020 if you want in next year Smile
  • 4 0
 I loved it, was great to have a technical race.
  • 3 0
 Thanks Smile
  • 3 0
 Looked like fun. Love the idea of seeing which stage you need to improve your time on and giving it another blast.
  • 3 0
 www.youtube.com/watch?v=jF5RhkyjCPw - If anyone wants to see a terrible run on stage 2
  • 1 0
 nightmare. rock razor on the front???
  • 1 0
 @foespower: Onza Ibex - far too much PSI had them at close to 40 the night before as fresh tubeless and forgot to let em down, but biggest issue was googles fogged as soon as i set off, First run mistakes! Knocked 2 mins off on my second go at it
  • 1 0
 Looked like a cracking weekend.
However please don’t be fooled in thinking this is a place for “all abilities” like quoted in the report.
It certainly isn’t a place for novice riders, mega STEEP!!!!!!
  • 3 4
 The problem with these smaller enduro series in the UK is that every year they feel the need to make them gnarlier than the year before to the point we're now having an enduro race on a downhill track....

Series like PMBA started out with a fun mates race / accessible for everyone vibe. Not so much any more.
  • 7 0
 Not true!

Gisburn is certainly a grass roots event, as is Kirroughtree. We even have 2 events at Gisburn, one just for women on 100% trail centre. Lee Quarry and Grizedale both accessible for the vast majority of racers, only really Graythwaite thats the super gnarly technical one and Llangollen now on steep and rough DH inspired tracks.

The series has a range of events 6 in the series plus the Hopetech womens to provide a pathway from novice to EWS racer.
  • 7 0
 Hahahaha. It’s mountain biking? Is the key not to progress to new limits? Push boundaries? Achieve new obstacles every tine you ride? Strange complaint to direct at a mountain biking event. Push yourself man, feels good.
  • 2 0
 The variety of races in the PMBA series is definitely one of the biggest appeals and with a lot Enduro riders being ex downhill riders it make a lot of sense to use an amazing venue like Llangollen.
  • 3 0
 You have a valid opinion, but I want to disagree. You can ride trail centres and have fun with your mates at anytime. I personally dont want to spend money at a race event on tracks that dont test me under pressure. Enduro bikes have moved on too, so a gnarly 90s DH track is easily done on today's bike. I dont like the PMBA gisburn and Lee quarry events because they are on trails I can ride anytime, but graithwaite is something special. As is this as it is pushing the limits.
  • 4 0
 @yeti-monster: I see your point but PMBA seem to be on to a winner with progressively more technical races throughout the season. It gives newer riders like me a good introduction to Enduro and its a great environment for bringing newer and young riders in with a chance to step up and try more technical riding.

This time last year my comfort zone and limits were racing the Hopetech women's event. This year I've progressed to racing at Llangollen. I'm still a long way off the faster riders but it's been a great introduction to Enduro racing so far!
  • 2 0
 Get ready for Llanfyllin Welsh enduro if you want some fresh cut tracks!
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