HERE COMES THE KNIGHT
ACU BRITISH EXTREME ENDURO CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND
In most sports there are rare individuals whose natural talent and endeavour place them in a different category to those they compete against. The reasons they dominate are a complex mix of biology, personality, single mindedness, and a dose of good fortune along the path to scoring goals, winning games, matches and races.
In the world of motorcycle off road enduro racing, David Knight the Isle of Man based racer is at the top his game. He's won the world enduro championship three times, and been placed second four times, and won numerous other races including beach enduros and extreme enduros across the world, and as might be expected he can handle a trials bike too.
It's always good to watch pro riders such as Knight. What lies between extremely difficult and impossible is made to look relatively effortless by him and other pro class enduro riders. And so it proved on January 25th when the ACU British Extreme Enduro Championship round pitched up at Parkwood Off Road, a 4X4 , trials and enduro motorcycle practice facility in the village of Tong between Leeds and Bradford www.parkwood4X4.co.uk
After the snow and ice comes mud. Though to be grateful for meteorological mercies the temperature has climbed away from freezing, there's blue sky above the trees, and several thousand spectators gather for a days racing of all classes from youth and veterans to the top riders in the two and a half hour championship race. Most people are obviously practised in the art of dressing for the occasion, and come equipped with boots or wellies and over-trousers, but there are some who slide through the mud and numerous streamlets, in trainers and tracky bottoms. Unwise.
As the 12.30 start time for the main race draws near spectators gather at the area where the competitors have parked their bikes. Knight's KTM with the No1 plate is strategically placed at the front so that he's not hampered by slower riders. It's a kind of 'seeding' system that no one seems to disagree with, as no other bike is blocking him.
He's a big man, bedecked, along with his co-competitors, in immaculate clean and colourful riding gear. This situation will remain for mere seconds after they're flagged off. Riders come in all sizes, but I can't help thinking that in these conditions at least it helps if you have bulk and height on your side while trying to wrestle 100 plus kilos of metal and plastic through a course of mud, streams, rocks, and tree roots laid out across steep valleys, gulleys, and near vertical hills.
Hills of the North
This form of torture, where after just a short time on the bike muscles, if given a vote, would opt out, and lungs would be gasping for oxygen like a bad day in Beijing traffic, is evidently popular as the entry list was over subscribed and a reserve rider list opened a week before the event took place.
The three categories of racer were waved off in groups. The top nineteen blokes (pro class) got the first crack at the narrow mud and rock passage a few metres beyond the start, then the thirty plus expert riders, followed by twenty five clubman riders. It was mayhem as adrenalin fuelled riders jostled for space and to remain upright with wheels spinning, handlebars clashing, some competitors stopping or falling, engines screaming, and others having to be pulled by spectators across the impossibly slipping rocks: but they all got through.
Once the whole field had gone its mud flinging way spectators spread out other parts of the course to gather round the most difficult and spectacular sections. The pro class and expert riders were given one particularly hard section to have a go at; a huge log filled ditch that could only be tackled at speed and jumped. But just to make it especially interesting, for us on the other side of the spectator tapes anyway, a log was placed on the edge of the landing section, so you had to clear that too, or come to some grief, as happened to Jake Subachus, falling short and catching the log with his front wheel. Ouch!
David Knight established an early lead, and looked as comfortable as you can when trying to win an extreme enduro championship event. His lead was challenged at one point by second place finisher, Paul Bolton, but Knight then eased away again to win by a three minute margin.
River and mountain spring
Tough on riders but fun and exciting for spectators. If you've never been to one of these events it's worth adding to your motorcycle experience catalogue. But wear the right clothes, and take your own food and drink if possible; those catering vans can be expensive.
Future events can be found at:
Have you been to one of these Extreme Enduro events or even taken part in one? Drop us an email and tell us about it if you have at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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