Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 1 November – Bordon Enduro

Posted by Matt | November 2, 2009 | 23 comments so far

Well, as anyone looking out the window Sunday morning will confirm, the weather broke this morning, in biblical fashion. For those of us making the trip to Bordon for the Pronghorn Enduro it was a case of a stiff upper lip as the wind and rain battered the car as we drove down.

Testing times were ahead.

Getting to Borden rather early it was great to see Andy and DaveW soon appear in the rain lashed car park, obviously having made even better time than us. I quickly found that my extensive event planning, which had seen me pack all kinds of satisfyingly warm and dry clothes for after the event, had meant overlooking the need for a warm and waterproof jacket and beanie for standing around pre-start! Thankfully Tony had had more sense and lent me a water/windproof jacket and a hat. Thank God!

We queued for registration and were quickly as soaked and cold. A cup of tea helped but we were soon huddled under the Pronghorn awning taking a rather close interest in their latest models—and if you like carbon fibre there was much to admire. Some very light and racy looking machines were on show, in danger along with the rest of us of being blown away by the gusty squalls battering the car park.

Retiring to Tony’s dog-wagon we squeezed in and made what preparations we could, which largely consisted of good conversation and moments of introspection at the prospect of the race ahead. Finally, 10:50 arrived and it was time to start.

It’s strange wheeling up to the start line knowing that however cold and wet you feel things were likely to get a whole lot worse in the coming couple of hours. The first stretch was straightforward enough but we were soon out of the car park and sampling the Bordon mud for the first time.

With three other Moles and a good few others in close proximity it was tricky to get a sensible balance between adrenaline fueled speed and a more circumspect approach. I hung in behind Dave for the first three miles or so with Tony occasionally dinging his bell behind to let us know he was there. After a few simple twisty sections we were soon into the flowing singletrack which was already showing signs of wear.

After the first longish downhill section which showed Bordon has a lot to offer the more casual singletrack rider (assuming it’s open to the public) I decided to put the hammer down as the trail turned uphill, passing numerous riders who were rather more closely bunched than I preferred. At the top my legs were showing signs of tiredness from Friday’s rapid singlespeed commute but I’d got the ‘clear air’ I wanted.

From there, it was a long time before anyone passed me. I kept plugging away and thoroughly enjoyed numerous berms and flowing singletrack and I was starting to think I had the right bike for the conditions. It was a rude and sudden introduction back to winter mud riding as the rain continued to hammer and the gloop continued to grow. In places there was mud and water that came over the bottom bracket! I was able to float, counter-steer and bully my way through most though, despite a few un-scheduled dabs here and there.

By the time I crossed the finish line after 7 miles or so I’d clocked a 48:50 time and was reasonably happy with my progress. I certainly wasn’t panting and blowing as much as at Thetford a month previously. But my poor planning meant I’d no energy bar or snack to top me up on the start/finish straight, which given the lack of extensive fire-roads to catch your breath and refuel on would have been a problem anyway. A special Camelbak brew next time I think…

Even so, I continued to find the flow was there, and could reel in and pass riders without too much effort. Half way round though, things started to change. The effort needed to maintain my pace increased quite dramatically and suddenly the fun had gone out of things. I was now feeling the effects of a sugar bonk to end all sugar bonks as riders I’d passed earlier started to re-pass me.

Within about five finutes of the start/finish line I was screwed and faced with a sudden sharp climb I stalled and need to walk up it and was promptly caught by a bouncy looking Tony. I’d been expecting it but my heart sank. Fortunately I begged an energy gel off him which I’m very grateful for but by the time I’d reached the start/finish straight he’d disappeared a further 4 minutes down the trail.

The curious thing was though that despite every part of me wanting to stop, that energy gel was starting to whisper about a third lap. I really should have stopped, the bike and me were covered in filth, I was exhausted and I knew you can’t recover a from a sugar bonk that easily. But I was feeling bloody-minded and it was an Enduro after all; I’d just have to endure!

What followed was the worst hour and 20 minutes I have ever spent on a bike. I started counting off the miles, then switched to half miles, then was down to fractions of a mile, thinking all the while that at least I wouldn’t need to ride them again. As the lap ground on I was hoping Tony would lap me so I could ponce more food off him, then I started to think about mugging anyone for something!

Eventually, I was down to hoping for a mechanical of any kind (my rear brakes did give up the ghost as the abrasive grit wore them away) and then I pondered briefly, in between extended off-the-bike breaks about taking the odd short cut here and there. But I didn’t do it. Like I said, I was being bloody minded and I was going to finish this event!

For the last half-lap my back gave out too so I had to stop occasionally for a stretch. I have never, ever worked so hard to go so slow. I just felt like lying down and crying to be honest as the sugar bonk returned in earnest and was not to be denied. But imperceptibly I made progress and eventually I neared the finish.

I was the last finisher in our Veteran (40-49) class of 17 riders but my earlier work had paid off. My overall result was a very creditable 9th place amongst the 17 veterans, with Tony finishing ‘just’ 20 minutes up the road from me. Looking at the result for the 20 seniors in the spring-chicken category (30-39 age group) I think I’d have finished 8th, one place behind Tony in 7th, largely by dint of our extra third lap. So I’ll claim 15th of 37 riders if both groups were put together from what was a miserable experience but one which could have been better with the right forethought.

Tony finished 6th in the Vets class and Andy 11th after a nasty looking injury to his hand on his second lap left him unable to grip the bars properly, while DaveW turned in an impressive 14th considering he may just have been on the wrong tyres!

All in all I really appreciated their support in spooning me up when I finished and getting the cholesterol back into my veins via a very hot bacon and egg roll and coffee. I’d been thinking of just that for miles!

So well done to everyone. Biblical rain conditions, mud such as I haven’t seen for a very long time and lots of pain, but it may have all been worth it. At least we’ve had a crash course in how to ride the next few months anyway!

Full Pronghorn Borden Enduro results can be found on the West Drayton MBC website in PDF format.

Filed under Racing, Reviews in November 2009


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 23 comments on ‘Ride report: Sunday 1 November – Bordon Enduro’

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  1. Lee says:

    Hi Chaps,

    Well done all of you, a great effort despite the obvious pain for some. Just leaving the front door yesterday morning shows a greater drive and enthusiasm than most I’m sure.

  2. tony says:

    I have some striking memories from yesterday.

    1.Watching Matt start to shake after aboout 2 mins out of the car at the start.

    2. Going to the start line thinking. Should I have put my trailraker on the back. Getting to the first off road section and knowing that I should have put my trailraker on.

    3. The big berm puddle mid-lap. I thought the water was going to go over the bars!

    4. Watching Matt leave me and fly past 5-6 riders on the first climb and thinking that he was on a flier.

    5. Meeting a very wibbly Matt on the second lap. Never have I seen anyone more grateful for a energy gel!

    6. Getting to the finish to meet Dave and Andy but surprised not to see Matt.

    7. How much Matt ate after the ride! Olympic effort there.

    It was really a hard relentless ride with no chance for a breather or to spin out the legs. Very different to D2D, probably much harder.

    Quite an intro to Enduro racing.

  3. Dave says:

    I think I made the correct decision to give it a miss then! There’s an informative article in the current STW magazine on sports nutrition during the ride. Worth a read.

  4. Andy C says:

    Another ‘experience’ to add to my, by now, extensive selection of life experiences!

    Honour compels me to put the record straight and confess that a closer reading of the results will reveal a minor cock-up on the part of the timekeepers, as Dave W finished his 2 laps almost 17 minutes ahead of me; so how that puts me 3 positions higher only they can explain.

    I had a steady first lap, where I had the frustration of having to overtake the same group of 3-4 slightly slower riders three times. The first after my steady start saw me reel them in after perhaps their enthusiasm had got the better of them. As Matt observed, the singletrack was pretty tight and narrow, and you had to choose the overtaking points carefully if, as in my case, you were unlikely to power past through the gloop at speed.

    I watched them all come past again as I spent a minute or two removing a twig that was trapped in the jockey wheels of my rear derailleur and was so flexible it could not be ‘snapped’ out.

    Having ‘retaken’ them for the second time after the ‘twig incident’, the effort caused me to overheat and my steamed up eyewear resulted in me sliding off the course due to lack of vision. As I was faffing about cleaning, then deciding to stash my glasses away, and opening various vents on my jacket, they came past once again.

    Before the end of the first lap I had now come to a comfortable clothing arrangement and developed a steady rhythm. The slower group were once again behind me, and having fuelled up on the supply of dates in my pocket I was settling in and enjoying the conditions (the rain had lessened, or possibly stopped) and enjoying the challenges of the muddy singletrack.

    Mentally I had decided that 2 laps would be enough for the morning, and if by chance I reached the finish before the 2 hours were up, I would lurk furtively in the woods before conveniently crossing the line a few moments after the 2 hour cut off.

    Despite being on the right tyres (Trailrakers front & back), a front wheel slide into the very thich trunk of a rhodedendron bush saw my head, chest and hand make contact and stop me abruptly.

    The hand took the brunt of the impact, and it took a few minutes before I could even rest it on the bars and grip very lightly. Using the front brake was impossible, but I’d not been using it much anyway so that was not a huge issue.

    Climbing was a problem and even level ground in that gloop was a challenge for the ‘uni-dexters’ out on the course.

    Whether I was unconsciously using the front brake more than I realised, or maybe it was something trapped in the thick mud that surrounded it, but the front brake started to make some horrible grinding noises as I rolled along. The rattling noise that also accompanied this grinding was eventually discovered to be a broken rear spoke.

    I struggled in well after the 2 hour mark, and managed to stow my bike, change, and blag an ice pack from the St Johns Ambulance before welcoming the 3 lap Moles home.

    Let’s see how the hand settles, but I foresee a trip to A&E and the X-ray dept tomorrow afternoon!

  5. Jem says:

    Bloomin’ Well done to all of you. I was thinking of you whilst I lay in my warm bed, wrapped in my soft feather duvet. Despite the rain and mud I would have loved to do the event with you, but had commitments (slightly jealous).

    Hope the hand is ok Andy and just bruised, no more hip hop dancing for you for a while. After seeing your moves the other weekend I know you will be dissapointed.

    Autumn arrived in style this weekend then, thats the end of the dry trails for quite a while. I was able to get out Very early Saturday morning 7am and cycle to Leith Hill and back with my mate Mark.

    It was raining until we reached the tower for a much needed cuppa. The trails were obviously not in the same leauges of mud depth as they were for you in Borden.

    May be out during the week, not out on Sunday as I am doing the Gorrick event at Crowthorne, any takers?

    I will do my upmost to fly the flag for us veteran Moles!

  6. Matt says:

    Looking at the results again it’s clear there’s a slight mix up as Andy mentions.

    DaveW should really have been placed 11th and Andy bumped down to 14th.

    @DaveC – nutrition is the key, there was no-where to refuel on the lap as the fireroad sections were only short and either up or downhill so you were still working hard.

    I don’t think I saw anyone really consuming anything, probably the start/finish straight was the only place to grab something but it was only 500 yards long. I think an energy drink in the Camelbak is the key.

  7. Andy C says:

    Correct Matt, the start/finish straight was indeed the location of choice for us canny moles to rapidly stuff a handful of dates into the cakehole and wash down with plentiful gulps of liquid, ideally (but not in my case) energy drink.

    The downside is that it may speed you up so much that you wallop the nearest tree!

  8. Dave says:

    Matt, that is basically what the article says, 6% carbohydrate solution. I’ve always stayed away from putting anything but water in my camelbak but I guess it just means a more stringent cleaning regime.

  9. Bazza says:

    Hi All

    Well done for Sunday, Oh how I envied you lot (Not!…), glad I was away last weekend to take the decision away to get out or to have entered it, it’s been many years since I was in that position but I can empathise with you, as it is grim but great character building!….. But only after the event eh? And it does make you appreciate central heating and your home comforts. Shame Matt on your bonking, a school boy error, tut tut but we have all been there many times and there will be a few more I am sure

    good stuff everyone and enjoyed the write up, although it did send a shiver down me, whilst reading it from my cosy office with the sun beating through, keeping me warm and cheerful, drinking coffee and having a stretch and a yawn, what a lazy, soft git I have become)…….

  10. tony says:

    Just to clarify, for when Lee is reading this post.

    “Retiring to Tony’s dog-wagon ”

    That refers to my two border terriers. Not noctural car parks of Surrey.

  11. Mark says:

    Well played chaps. A splendid effort all round. Big respect and all that!

    Andy, I hope your hand is OK. If you are too embarased to tell them at A&E what you really did, you can always say it was a wanking injury!

    After so many months of good weather I think we had all forgotten just how wet a wet ride can really be. I must have poured almost half a pint of water out of my shoes when I got home on Sunday!

  12. Colin says:

    Yeah, well done boys, much better effort than those smug wussies who merely rode around Norbury park.

    Now the racing’s over, can we get back to normal riding which means moderate pace, lots of chatting and guaranteed tea stops and enjoying ourselves !!

  13. Matt says:

    LOL @ Colin! As for your comments on ‘moderate pace, lots of chatting and guaranteed tea stops and enjoying ourselves’ – NOTED!

    Racing is an entertaining challenge but it’s not exactly what we’re all about. Just that some of us have ‘tendencies’!

  14. tony says:

    One of the (few) things I did in prep’ing the bike for the Pronghorn Enduro was to check my pads.

    They were bedded in, very well since they had lasted the summer no problem. The had loads of material left on them and when I started the Enduro pads was the least of my worries.

    So you can imagine my surprise when I felt the dread metal on metal on my rear brake on the last lap.

    I just checked tonight. Yep one pad on the rear was down to the metal so it was a new set of pads.

    Expense stuff this Enduro racing. Andy, Matt and Dave, check your pads!

  15. Matt says:

    Worn-out rear brake pads – check!

    Although in fairness they were marginal to begin with…

    I’ll add it to my list of things to consider pre-race ;o)

  16. Mandog says:

    I also enjoyed the muddy Bordon.

    See you on Sunday at Gorrick

  17. Muddymoles says:

    Veteran Moles: Gorrick race report 8 November

    Jem’s thoughts on his first daylight XC race in Crowthorne Woods near Swinley for the November Gorrick race

  18. Muddymoles says:

    Ride report: Sunday 29 November – Newlands Corner

    Another Newlands Corner ride with torrential rain and lots of effort. Who said Surrey Hills riding is easy?

  19. Muddymoles says:

    Looking back – 9 for 2009

    A look back at the highlights of Matt’s MTB’ing 2009 and a summary of his stats.

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