Wow…a whole season has rolled by since our last enduro race at Afan (there was a bit less riding this year mainly due to the birth of our wonderful 12 week old son!). So it was with general amazement I was granted an ENTIRE weekend pass to ride the final UK Gravity Enduro series at Dyfi forest! New fathers will note this is quite an achievement. And what a weekend we were rewarded with! Not a drop of rain, sunshine, blue skies, some mental trails and all round race-tastic. Organiser Steve Parr had saved up something special for this final – mainly in the way of some serious stage transitions which tested the fitness of a lot of riders, to then be rewarded by some seriously scary fast descents. If you want to find out more about the enduro race format in the UK, click here, or read our Q&A with Steve from last season.
Quick rundown of the stages:
Stage One: a good warm up, basic flowy trails and nothing to get too worried about.
Stage Two: things got a bit more serious, steep rocky descents, ending in a fast gully on loose shale with step drops. The first time we rode this gully it was lined with punctured riders. This is when I appreciated learning my lessons from the Mega last year and running dual ply tyres – Minions plus heavier tubes – no chance of flats with these monsters!
Stage Three: easily my favourite, this finished on the legendary ‘World Cup’ trail – a seriously fast descent on a steep rocky ridge line with big steps. Do not fall off here. I recall having a ‘vision blurring now almost losing it moment’ on this one..eeek.
Stage Four: a comedy drop in to this freshly dug trail which claimed loads of riders (including me!) flowed into some long pedally sections (by this point my legs were not really having it on race day), and then some super whoopy and fast trail, 30mph+ speeds and judging the doubles was difficult at this pace. I do remember being kicked up on the verge at one point heading very fast towards some spectators and shouting very loudly – sorry about that!
UPDATE: it turns out since posting this that the spectator above was filming, here is my moment on camera (and yes I have apologised)!
Stage Five: this was the seeding run so everyone had plenty of practice at this one – basically a flat out grass run down into the campsite, with a few (and hidden) drops for the crowd, twist and turns – old school MTB racing style basically! This was great fun and a top end to the race.
Results? Well, all I can really say is that I am consistent in my placings
Anyway, moving swiftly on, for old gits like me this is the perfect type of racing – you can go away with your mates for a weekend, ride some of the best trails you are unlikely to find signposted anywhere, push yourself to go just that little bit faster, admire everyone else’s shiny bikes and compare set ups, and generally have a good chat with other riders. Try it, you might like it!
So a very big THANK YOU to Steve and everyone who makes these races happen, especially the marshalls who do it all for free. Roll on the 2013 series!