The Southern Enduro series finally got underway in 2020 much to the huge relief of riders from all over the country, all desperate for their racing fix in what has been a disastrous year for race organisers, riders and photographers alike.
The venue is just outside the village of Milland, a small Parish in West Sussex in the south of England and the scene of fantastic race events for the previous few years.
The socially distanced race village and sign on was a chance for everyone to meet up after many months of non racing and the atmosphere amongst the riders was buzzing as Milland always provides fantastic race events with stages worthy of any Enduro in the country.
Luckily for everyone involved, the rain and mud of 2019 was very much absent and replaced with fast, dry tracks and lots of dust although still very cold and windy. The morning saw very challenging light conditions for riders and photographers with a deforested open section at the top. The light soon changed halfway down where the tracks on stage 1 and 2 plunged deep into the dark woods.
So dark in fact I spent the first half of stage 1 cursing the lack of light only to curse the bright blue skies at the top.
A photographer is never happy as anyone who has ever listened to me moan about the conditions will testify!
Stage 1 was the pedal stage that demanded stamina and fitness from the riders with a fun, flowy track. This was followed by a series of sprints between tight corners in the woods and the relief of the riders faces as they completed the first stage was plain to see.
Stage 2 was the best, photo wise with a ton of features and of course the bridge! I love that bridge as you will see in a second. A huge log step down right at the start led into some sandy and dusty corners with a couple of cool jumps and step downs. Into the woods the pace picked up with some tricky rooty sections that led to the swamp crossing near the end.
And then down to the bridge.
Did I mention I love this bridge? With the moody light, dark ferns and swampy ground it looks like a scene from the southern England location of Jurassic park and I'm sure I heard some distant roars, or that may be have groans as the riders sprinted down to the finish
Stage 3 consisted of loose and loamy corners right from the start gate and was a twisty techy ride through the trees. It seemed to be one of the riders favourite stages but not a photographers one as it was tricky to shoot.
Stage 4 was a fast blast out the start gate and some interesting features all the way down from step downs into 180 degree berms to the narrowest gap through the trees imaginable! Some sprint sections and a couple of small jumps and drops led to the natural bowl that was the finish line for several of the stages.
Stage 5, well I could say that stage 5 was more of the same as 4 but as I didn't shoot it I can't show you! But was it another fast stage with some really tight action through the trees that saw the riders finish into the arena. Despite the exhaustion, all competitors enjoyed another epic Southern Enduro at Milland.
The Southern Enduro series has really proven itself to be one of the premier enduro series in the UK with it's slick organisation and fantastic courses. And it's down to Mr Enduro himself ,above, and all the team do an incredible job every race so a huge thanks to them, the marshals, medics, timing guys and catering.