Words by Captain James Scott
Pictures and video to follow…
Dyfi, a proper enduro location, a big loop with stages that included everything – scary fast natural descents, trail centre, berms, drops, rocks, roots, mud, gravel and lots of flat grassy turns. The only things I can think of that weren’t there were man-made jumps, dust or snow.
Finally got where I wanted to be with a top 1/4 result of 30th out of 125 in the Masters category. An even better result of 15th in the seeding run which would have got me 6th in the senior category, wish I wasn’t getting old – the oldies are meant to be slower not faster!
The loop weighed in at 30km / 1300m climbing which was enough for most just as a normal ride let alone racing 5 stages along the way. The transitions were all fireroads which aren’t always a bad thing, a steady gradient that got you up without killing you and not much distance wasted with flat or descending.
I arrived late at night Thursday so a group of us could do a full lap on Friday, take it easy Saturday only sessioning the stage 5/seeding track and then the race on Sunday. This worked out well with sunny skies Friday although the trails were more like streams after torrential rain the night before. Seeding was pretty miserable, after menacing clouds all day the skies opened with lots of rain onto the grassy track. Sunday was much better with patchy sun all day – perfect racing weather.
Stage 1 (cancelled after an unfortunate veteran racer crashed and did his hip in – dislocation/break/chipped, details are sketchy – hope he’s already healing, wasn’t nice hearing the shouts for medics from down the hill.)
Fresh cut top section with muddy steep tight corners, into the same lower as one of last years stages – a pedal and then super fast moto whoops, the source of the often quoted “40mph descents”. Almost glad this one was cancelled, that top section would have been a struggle, really wanted to ride the bottom half though!
Stage 2 (43rd)
Again very similar to one of last years stages, fast straight descent on loose rock with the odd drop, flat pedal, more fast straight descent and finishing on a long section of muddy singletrack over wet roots. I love the flat out rocky descents around Dyfi and the start of this stage was a great example, shame the pedalling and wet roots at the bottom are my nemesis!
Stage 3 (42nd)
This one was half of the Climach-X final descent. A technical trail centre descent with berms, rollers and rocky outcrops galore, a fireroad sprint to end on. LOVED the trail centre section of this, a must ride for everyone. Many mentioned they thought it was a perfect enduro stage, fitness needed to be high and there was enough high speed technical rocks to keep you on your toes, especially two crests which you expect to be standard rollers but have backsides covered in spikey bedrock – choose your line carefully and instantly! Fitness was my downfall here along with going straight on at a corner, superb fun though.
Stage 4 (35th)
Not everyone’s favourite stage due to the fitness required, a fast as you dare 1ft wide gravel rut descent into a few bermed corners then a tough muddy climb, a fireroad sprint and then the lower section consisted of lots of muddy rooty corners. Pedalling has always been my weakness (although huge improvements from last year!) and when you add muddy roots into the mix I suffer. Definite winter training planned…
Stage 5 (22nd)/ Seeding (15th)
Grass is the word, all corners were essentially grassy and flat – great fun understanding where the grip limits lay. Think you can tell from my detailed description how much I enjoyed this, especially the top section where I nailed my lines in both seeding and race runs. For seeding I kept slow and steady and knowing a crash would instantly lose me lots of time so I concentrated on staying upright. A good tactic which got me 15th, shame that for race run stage 5 I remained too cautious not gauging the grip right and didn’t place quite so highly. Still one of my favourite stages out there.
Straight out the start and into an s-bend going into a series of drops where you needed to know what to expect, go fast or go slow, middling speed would land you on an upslope. A quick pedal, down a big rocky slope/drop, more s-bends, a pedal down a gravel farmer track, muddy rutty corner, tricky off-camber left which put you straight into a small drop. Mud singletrack into a multi-line corner – cut high then tight for a steep drop or longer and wider for the slower less scary route. Very slippery muddy s-bend, final flat muddy pedal and drop into the finish arena. Sounds like this final drop caught a lot out on Sunday although at my slow speeds it wasn’t an issue…
Superb route and proper gravity enduro terrain.
Huge thanks to the organisers, Steve and Charlie along with all their support staff, marshals and stage builders. Brilliant weekend that didn’t seem to be affected by the weather – or maybe this year I’m getting used to the formula of Gravity Enduro = Mud. Bring on Round 5 at Eastridge