There can't be many multi-day mountain bike events where you get served tea in china cups between stages and craft beer handed to you at the end of a day's racing, but that's exactly what you get with the Merida EX enduro.
There's far more to this event than fine bone china and fancy IPAs though, as the riding amongst the hills of North Exmoor is just as special. Semi-natural trails snake through loamy forest and open hillside alike and are painstakingly mapped out for the EX each year. Some of the stages are accessible all year round, while others are can only be ridden during the race.
The 2022 EX begins on Thursday 16th September and ends on Saturday 18th. The riding takes place amongst the rolling hills of North Exmoor not far from Minehead, with six to eight stages per day over two full days of riding. Distances of 35 to 45km with 1,500 to 2,300m of will be ridden each day. After dark stages take place on the Friday night with lighting provided by Exposure.
Entry is limited to just 80 competitors each year, getting a place is tough. But small numbers means shorter queues for food and drink, stages that have not been destroyed by hundreds of tires and a better experience for everyone fortunate enough to be involved.
The EX is a one-of-a-kind event in the race calendar that holds a special place in our contributing tech ed's heart, (you can find Guy's write-up on the 2021 EX in this Bespoken Word piece).
New for 2022 is the 'enduro time trial', a standalone event on the Thursday afternoon. Keep an eye on the EX website for more detail on that.
Entry for the 2022 event is £375 per person. While this may sound a lot for an enduro, once you factor in that it covers all your food and drink (all dietary requirements are catered for), camping (with hot showers), on-site mechanics, evening entertainment, an EX jersey, a free bar(!) and much, much more, it's a pretty reasonable outlay. E-MTBS are very welcome and on-site charging will be available.
With extremely limited tickets going on sale, the event sells out in minutes To secure a place, pre-registration before the ticket release on the 6th March is essential.
For full details on the event, head on over to the-ex.co.uk.
And if you're in the market for a new bike to ride on the EX, check our guide to the best enduro mountain bikes.