Flying at the York Timbers Enduro

The invite-only York Timbers event is a highlight on most rider’s annual calendar. Downhill ace STEF GARLICKI had some proper fun at the event.

IMAGE: NEIL KLEB PHOTOGRAPHY

With the DH season coming to an end it’s a great feeling to head home and reset for the next season, however I still had one event on the cards before it was all set and done. The York Timbers Enduro was a yearly highlight and probably the most fun weekend of the year! The event is unique because it is an invite only for pro’s and then each pro is given a corporate team of four riders to partner with over the four days. The days consist of 15 enduro stages, a downhill event, a dual eliminator and a cross country event which means it caters for all types of riders. The only catch is that you may only use one bike for the entire event! The trails are unreal and the locations are great but for me the highlight is just the event as a whole with all the entertainment, food and networking. There is also no pressure so it creates a fun atmosphere where riders from all different disciplines and skill levels can mingle and get to know one another. Coming into the event in 2017 I was unfortunately very sick which would make the long days challenging and I was considering pulling out. However, I decided to just take it easy to start with and see how it went as I was sure to enjoy the socializing in any case! Fortunately, I was able to get through the first two days by not going too hard on the stages and just focusing on what counted for me. That was the downhill and the dual eliminator as I knew these would suit me and even if I was sick I could get through them due to the shorter race format. I had some stiff competition this year in the form of my mate, Johann Potgieter who is the current national DH champ. However I felt good on the super fun course so I was confident. There was a brandnew DH course for this year and it was super fast which I love! It is not the most technical course but the fun factor is high due to the speed and flow. It is also unique because we only got two practice runs, a seeding and a race run so very little practice compared to normal. I managed to set the fastest seeding time with a solid run but Johann had made a big mistake so I knew I would still need to go for it in the final. I was last man down and had a stormer run in the final! I crossed the line and heard that he had beaten my seeding run by five seconds so I was a little unsure, however I had managed to pip him by 0.05 of a second! This meant I was able to relax until the dual slalom event on the last day. Another two days of rad trails passed with a few time trials to make things interesting, haha! It was the final day and the dual eliminator which is always the highlight as there is a decent crowd plus a really fun track. I knew the format would suit me but there were a few fast boys like Johann, Martin Zietsman and Alan Hatherly to watch out for. Due to the format and track layout I knew that to give myself the best chance I would need to qualify first to have lane choice through all the heats. I managed to do just that with a smooth run, however as I left the start gate in my qualifying run I tweaked a muscle in my lower back. I was in a lot of pain and could not bend over. I decided that I would push through as it was only a few more heats and on track it did not seem to bother me too much because of the adrenalin. It was a perfect day for me as I managed to win every heat and then took the final over Alan Hatherly who impressed everyone on his XC bike! Overall this event is incredible. What York has done is create a whole new format for riders. I really feel that this type of event will soon be more popular than stage racing as the fun factor is next level. You get to spend as much time on your bike but because you are only timed on certain segments you don’t need to be suffering the entire time. The mix of rider disciplines and skill levels are also amazing, so look out for more of these soon. Thanks to the whole York team for having us, can’t wait for next year! Until next time …

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