"The best tracks I've ridden in twenty years"
Back for a third time this year, Ard Moors is the late season blast organised by the Ard Rock team and supported by Enve composites and Saddleback.
‘Ard Moors 18 official report
Rather than racing in the Ard Rock’s Dales, this Autumn event takes place in Lordstones Country Park on the edge of the North York Moors National Park.
Hope’s Ian Austermuhle here sends it out of the green room to third fastest time on the day overall.
The wide open spaces on top of the Moors tip down steeply onto the huge, flatter plain that separates North Yorkshire’s two National Parks. And, no, that’s not the Matterhorn on the horizon, it’s Roseberry Topping; the area’s little piece of Switzerland.
Ard Moors tracks are as much downhill tracks as enduro trails, none more so than Stage One that tips down a super steep slope and into an old quarry, before dishing out endless hero turns in deep loam on a steep bracken-filled bank, and killing off almost 300m of height in the process.
The bottom of Stage One filters through a beautiful woods threading in and out of big bucket turns and over some pretty big senders. Riders were split between this and Stage Five as the best of the weekend. Most stages are around the three or four minute mark for the fastest riders, but that’s not exactly racked up pedalling or pootling along at slow speeds: at some points on track plenty are clocking over 60KM!
The Shucksmith brothers had a good weekend at ‘Ard Moors, with younger sibling Sam finishing third in the senior category behind two World Cup downhillers on his brand new G-170 29-er. The success of downhill racers isn’t surprising with Ard Moors’ massive in-stage elevation drops. In fact, some sections have reworked the bare bones of old downhill tracks and re-imagined them for today’s enduro bikes.
Ard Moors is totally focussed on the best riding and trials. The tracks are some of the best you can ride anywhere in the UK, with super-steep sections, amazing corners, jumps and features; all built by a team of dedicated builders for weeks before the event – big shout out to the Ard Rock trail crew for delivering the goods. All the chat we heard all weekend was that the stages were among the best rider’s had raced for years, and are all on private land so only accessible by entering the event too.
Over on the back (east) side of the event, there’s more wide open moorland, big skies and some hefty liaisons to reach the stage starts. Two riders here are tipping down to stage four, which was one that got savaged by the torrential rain last year. This year it was thankfully dry, so racers got treated to its massive variety of terrain including some gnarly rocky sections at the start, dark loamy woods and flat out open sections at the bottom.
Like surfing through bracken?
Or smashing up deep loam?
Jack Reading rounded off his World Cup Downhill season with a blast round Ard Moors on his Geometron trail bike, slotting into second place overall – not too shabby for a name not usually associated with enduro.
Roseberry Topping in the distance and Stage Five out of view tipping almost 300m down to the Cleveland Plain.
Tight jeans, flat pedals and style for miles from James Carr.
Did you beat your mate or not? Probably the question asked by hundreds of riders this Sunday afternoon…
Ard Moors’ fastest riders on the day were Gabriele Gelgotaite and Joe Breeden of Intense Saddleback in the Female and Male overall categories respectively.
See you next year if you fancy what one old downhiller described as, “the best tracks I’ve ridden in twenty years…”