The Tough One is aptly named indeed. In its 11th year, the definitively British race is more than Enduro, it’s called Hard Enduro. And if every hard edge racing series needs skilled maniacs to compete, there’s always one person who thinks up and promotes the madness.
Steve Ireland of WOR Events is the man behind this one. When he found Nantmawr Quarry on the Welsh border, a disbanded Victorian era stone quarry with rocky pits, loose uneven ground, sheer cliffs and root-choked ravines, his fertile mind conceived of a Hard Enduro course that would define British hardcore motorcycle racing. To add to the sportiness, concrete chunks, logs and old cars are strewn throughout the course as well.
The race is the kick-off to the Red Bull Hard Enduro World Series this year, which takes the sport across the globe.
With the exception of the Le Mans style start, where the riders claw their way up a muddy hill 200 meters before even hopping on their bikes, the race breaks from tradition in every sense. It’s more a game of the racers keeping a bike underneath them than it is actually riding one.
Competitors here look more like victims of a natural disaster than they do athletes. Perhaps the only defining feature is their helmets. In fact, the amphitheater-like arena seems designed to push the bikes to their absolute limits.
Nevermind the riders. Each lap is just under 15 minutes, with two-and-a-half hours of riding for the competitors. This year, it was veteran rider Johnny Walker in first place, giving him four wins out of the last five.
“I’m happy with the way I’m riding,” Walker said after the race. “And I just need to carry on doing the hard work and just hope it pays off.”
We can’t help imagining what Queen Victoria would say about these 21st Century Brits speeding, crawling, and mucking around in the old quarry on such powerful and loud machines. She’d likely tell them to just close their eyes and think of England.
Photo credit: Youtube screenshot