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‘Ard Rock’ Associate

11 Aug 2017 | Written by Karen Crowe

Stephen Abbott, our Technical Associate prefers his cycling to be on the dangerous side.

Stephen is definitely one of the Niven team’s more committed cyclists: the type that prefers their cycling to be on the dangerous side…………….in fact, the more dangerous, the better.

Last weekend Stephen took part in the ‘Ard Rock Enduro’ Festival event which takes place amidst the stunning scenery of Swaledale, North Yorkshire. This involves cycling a special 45km loop with six alpine-style stages on 100% natural rock strewn and rough terrain based on ancient trails and paths with, according to the publicity blurb, ‘more flowing, steep and technical riding under your wheels than you can ‘shake a stick at’!

The challenge of ‘Ard Rock’ is that the beauty of the scenery belies the difficulty of trying to cycle over and down the steep slopes. Each racing stage possesses its own unique character: the transition from cyclist friendly flat grass to frightening loose rock verticals sets an uncompromising tone to the event, but one which cyclists like Stephen clearly adore. ‘Ard Rock’ provides cyclists with a ‘once only’ opportunity to cycle over some unique natural rocky zones which contain a mixture of flat out fast gullies, off road tracks, steep rocky chutes and technical single tracks that demand a good level of skill and fitness plus a scary level of bravery.

The ‘Ard Rock’ event attracts riders from all over the UK, Europe and even as far away as Australia. It’s now seen as ‘the Glastonbury of mountain biking’ with its tented village and bands. Perhaps not surprisingly, given the terrain, there were a number of injuries over the two days – some serious enough to necessitate a call out by the Great North Air Ambulance. Fortunately, Stephen returned home comparatively unscathed but exhausted.

In spite of the difficulty of the challenge, he managed to finish in the top third of the 4,000 crazy cyclists at the event: presumably, this means he’ll be back for more next year!

If you are as mad as Stephen, check out the organisers report and photo gallery for  ‘Ard Rock’ here.