2015 ACU British Extreme Enduro Champion – Ross Hall
ACU British Extreme Enduro Championship – Ross Hall
The Heads of the Valleys Extreme seems such a long time ago now. Just at the back end of winter. I wasn’t too keen to drive all the way to South Wales for a two day format. Qualifier and next day race, but the lure of a new extreme event was strong. Looking at the pictures of impossible looking climbs, it looked ace and being part of the ACU British extreme Enduro championship I was desperate to compete. However, due to family commitments I wasn’t able to do the qualifying day. But I thought what the hell, go down Sunday and start from the back row. It will make an even better challenge. Ha ha, I’d been training hard through the winter and combined with my TUbliss, Dunlop combo and my RSS suspension and Exol oils, the bike was running and handling a dream. The race itself was a fantastic massive lap of around 60 mins full of surprises that lay ahead and two laps had to be completed. Most of my competitors were way up the front and I had massive amounts of slower riders to clear, but got the holeshot from the fifth and last row and pushed on as hard as I dare. There was a lot of carnage and I loved it. I just kept calm and made my way through the tough sections. On my second lap, I rode much better but traffic seemed a lot worse. But I was ecstatic to finish 5th place in my class.
Next round was Tong. It’s a venue I like and enjoy, but after Mr. Edmondson has had his evil way, there wasn’t much to enjoy about the tough and technical course. Ha ha!! I was seeded from the last round, so this time I got a front row start position, but soon ran into trouble on the big rock garden where a rider had fallen in front of me mid climb. This left me stranded and dropped from 3rd to around 15th place, but again I managed to keep calm and found a good rhythm. My combination of TUbliss, mx51 and RSS magic worked wonders again along with Exol oils and Pro Action discs and pads. This gave me phenomenal performance and I soon found my way back up to the leaders. I pushed hard and finally caught and passed 3rd places Alex Owen to take my first British championship podium. This was temporarily denied due to a glitch in the transponder system. So I missed my podium glory, but was later awarded the points and assured I would receive my award at the next round. I must say Paul Edmondson and his team dealt fantastically with the delicate situation. Thank you Paul.
So with the points amended, this left me leading the championship by one point and all down to the final round at Cowm quarry, no pressure then !!
I train hard and regular anyway, but over a month leading up to Cowm, I stepped up everything, riding longer and harder than ever before, tearing ruts round my quarry practice grounds and all my extreme loops and sections for up to 3 to 7 hours at a time. Testing many different settings on the bike and was confident I was riding well. I tried to eat well and rest leading up to Sunday and all I could do was my best on race day. I spent hours going through the bike Saturday fitting new wheels, tyres, chain sprockets, pads oils and plug, leaving nothing to chance. I even replaced and fitted a few new stickers including some Dunlop tyres stickers, usually reserved for the MX GP boys, the bike looked mint. I had gone through all my kit, goggles and fuel, so everything was ready for morning.
Loading up the car I try to stay calm, but can’t get away from the fact that this was the biggest race of my life. Arriving at Cowm, I happen to park next to my biggest rival Mick Boam. As much as I used to despise him, I’ve got to know him quite well and he is a really nice bloke. After chatting a while and about the points standings, he wished me luck and even advice to just race my own race and I should easily manage a top 5 to win the championship and that he hoped I did. Huge respect to that man. My good feeling soon turned bad, realising I’d forgotten my boots, ffs!!!
A panicked run round the pits was not fruitful, so a call to David Dudley, who called by my house on route, and saved the day. Cheers duds!
By the time I was kitted up and sprinted to the line, I had minutes to spare. I always like to get my heart rate up before a race, but not by a desperate sprint to make the start line on time. Ha ha, I take my position on the line in between Mick Boam and Martin Sandiford. Now I’m getting nervous, one final attempt to calm myself down and then the flag drops. I make a decent start but get crowded on the first bend. I tag Micks rear wheel but we both stay upright. Tempest makes a move as we both had lost a little ground. I think I’m 3rd into the first rock, log, garden, but I get hung up a little but still manage to exit in 2nd place. Mick has pulled a gap, but I push and manage to catch up. Happy to follow at this stage and see his line choice, as we hit the really tricky grass climb by the Grafitti wall. Mick makes a mistake and I actually run into the back if him, shouting come on Mick!!! Ha ha, that’s the first time I’ve ever seen him make a mistake. From then on I just tried to keep him on sight as we pulled a gap on the rest of the field. But on the first rock garden near lap scoring, I make a mistake distracted by a Mr. Osborne, cheers Ozzy, and drop the bike. By the time I’m up and running, I could hear, who I now know to be Garry Morley and Alex Owen not too far behind. So I start to ride a little panicked. That always leads to mistakes. I get through the log and rock garden clean and out on to the course, but already into heavy traffic on the second lap. I try to give plenty of warning when approaching riders. BIG thank you to all of you that moved aside, but one lad insisted he wouldn’t, so I made a pass in a place I’d rather not have, as it compromised my line for the next hill climb at the back of lap scoring. Only after committing, did I see a downed rider at the top and had to abort and go down to try the other line, allowing Morley and Owen past, oh great!! I caught up with Owen on the log-rock garden and followed him for half a lap, then put a great move on him on a smaller rock pile, but unaware Morley had broken a foot peg. I pushed on 100% to catch him and Boam, still riding panicked and making mistakes, Owen stayed with me for a few laps, till I managed to calm down and started riding smooth. I pulled a good gap, but no sight of Morley or Boam. It was perhaps a good thing as I was sure I could catch Morley, but he was actually now behind me and I only realised this a good few laps later when passing lap scoring and heard it on the tannoy. It was a relief but I was still desperate to catch Boam. The next 40 mins were probably my best, riding clean through all the sections and pushing hard. I found a great rhythm and was calm, in fact, I was in the zone, riding smooth, bike was feeling ace, then my mind started to wander thinking about the championship and that it was within reach. Then I snapped out of it to focus on my riding, as it wasn’t going to end pretty riding around daydreaming. Ha ha, I pushed on making a few mistakes and crashes on the last lap but was riding as hard as I dared, just hoping to catch a glimpse of Boam. Though after studying the lap times, he did have a bad lap late on, but I had lost too much ground to him to catch up. I take my hat off to you Mick Boam. Maybe next time!?! So I crossed the line, with fist aloft in second place, my best British championship result to date. A happy, but exhausted man. I had done it, getting an extra lap in on the rest of the field. Fantastic!! I finally got my podium glory and was also awarded my 3rd place trophy from Tong.
Thanks to Paul Edmondson and team and the marshals who did a tremendous job picking everybody up including me. I am now looking forward to next year and a new 5 round championship
Thanks to all my sponsors for your help and support family and friends too.
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