With technical trails, three days of riding, well over a 1000 meters of up per day, a night race and up to nine race competitive stages per day, the EX Enduro is definitely a stern test of anyone's riding mettle. But while the riding is seriously full-on, the super-friendly EX team do an incredible job of making the whole event feel more like a get together of like-minded mates than an organised race.
As for the trails themselves, while many can ridden all year round, some are on private land and exclusive to the EX. There's no practice runs, so all the courses are ridden blind on the race days. That said, many of the trails will be familiar to EX veterans and locals, but the course marking team look to add in new variations to keep things as fresh as possible.
With stiff climbs and a competitive stage that definitely doesn't break you in gently right from the off, it doesn't take long to realize that the EX is intent on challenging every aspect of your riding prowess.
After initially wondering how on earth you're gonna complete the three days, racing on jelly legs starts to feel normal and the friendly chats on yet another long and very stiff climb help propel you to the top once again.
There's much more to the EX than the riding though. It's the only event we've ever experienced where you can start the day with a yoga session and end it in a pub quiz over pie and mash. One particular highlight was finishing the night stages to hear inviting tunes drifting out into a freezing night and following them to a barbecue in a warm, fairy-lit barn where the beer and good vibes were flowing.
Talking of food, from the cooked breakfasts to the incredibly opulent feed stops, it's all top notch. You may be be burning thousands of extra calories per day, but it's possible that you may end up slightly heavier than when you started by the end of the event.
We're already looking forward to next year's EX, though with only 80 tickets available its tough to get a place. Keep an eye on the-ex.co.uk and hope to see you in 2023.