DYFI ENDURO – 2ND MAY 2010
Machynlleth, located in the Dyfi Valley and the unofficial “ancient capital of Wales”, was the setting for the annual Dyfi Enduro. The event, organised by local cycle shop Summit Cycles based in Aberystwyth, took its traditional place on the calendar on the first May Bank Holiday.
This was my fourth visit to the event which has taken on a cult status in mountain bikers’ circles and always sells its 700 available places in hours. This year I owed my place in the event due to a mate since work commitments had prevented me getting online when entries were released.
As I took my place on the start line in about mid-field I shivered. A mixture of nerves and a bitter wind. We had been lucky that it wasn’t raining, but there had been a few downpours throughout the week to make the course interesting.
The Dyfi Enduro is not your typical enduro. The 65k route is a mixture of long arduous climbs and steep, technical descents. The slate that has served local industry well in these areas over the generations makes for some “interesting” and at times downright terrifying descents.
The start involved the usual first few miles of ascent on road to split the field and I moved quickly through the pack. By the time we left the road and started the first main off-road climb I was in about 10th position. The advantage of having done this event before meant I knew that this climb went on and on, so I settled in to a steady pace. A few went past me but I knew this was all about endurance. Riders are encouraged by a band on the way up, and then cheer leaders at the top to take your mind of the pain of the climb.
The first slatey descent could not come soon enough, but as I reached the bottom I heard the familiar hiss. Puncture! Back on my bike and within 5 minutes the next climb became more and more difficult. Slow puncture! I quickly changed again and then settled into the up, followed by down, over and over. I was on my carbon hardtail and could not help thinking my Orange 5 would have been better on the downs. As the event went on I started picking off riders as my early season endurance began to pay dividends. The first 200 riders have to do an extra loop near the end just to compound the pain. As I came down the final descent I heard that hiss again. I crossed the line with a flat. I finished 51st out of 711 riders and my best result in the event to date. Every year I scare myself on this one so much I say I will give next year’s a miss… until next year!
HALIFAX SC MTB CHALLENGE – 6TH JUNE 2010
My navigational skills were put to the test just finding the start of this event. The start was Halifax Sailing Club, located somewhere in the Pennines! I got there just in time to sign on, and just in time for when the rain started to fall.
This was a smaller scale event, but with some serious looking riders taking their place on the start line. I knew from the off this was going to be a quick one. After a short road climb, we were quickly off-road. I was in the top ten and positioned well as we went down the first rocky descent, followed by “hisssss”. Puncture!
This was seriously getting on my nerves. I intend to move to tubeless, and to not use Rocket Rons for events from now on!
Following the change I found myself at the back of the field. The riding was really enjoyable on some twisting singletrack. Not great for moving through the field though so I decided to just enjoy myself. The field started to stretch out and by half distance, about 15 miles, I was up to 63rd. I increased my pace for the second half and consistently moved up through the field.
As I came over the finish line I was informed that I had finished 21st. Not bad considering the problems I had. It wasn’t long after this that the rain eased off. Visibility had been poor but I think on a nice day the views would be as good as the riding which was excellent. I would really recommend this event and I intend to give this another go next year.
MARIN ROUGH RIDE – 13TH JUNE 2010
For various reasons, 2009 was my first attempt on the Marin Rough Ride. It takes place on the English – Welsh borders around Kington in Herefordshire. Anyone doing this event would be well advised to make a full weekend of it. On the Saturday there is a traditional summer fete with wheel barrow racing… it really is a surreal experience!
As I was intending to do 24 hours solo the following weekend I told myself to take things easy. I had finished 17th last year and felt in good shape. The start is actually about a 10 minute ride uphill from the campsite, so riders need to remember to leave themselves plenty of time to get to the start. As I got to the top I saw about 500 riders in front of me and the start line raised. I put the pedal down and started to race through the field. I had opted for the longer 75k route. Riders were greeted by glorious sun, but the rain through the night ensured that the grassy moorland under tyre (which is about 95% of the terrain!) was suitably soft to really drag. There are plenty of route options on this event and overtaking is rarely a problem.
The riding for the whole course is top class. It would make for a great day of riding with your mates. I really pleased myself by getting the better of a really steep climb which had myself last year, and the other riders around me, off the bike and walking. The lactic acid was burning in my legs, and only about a fifth into the ride, but it was worth it!
The route itself follows the traditional climb and descent format which characterises these sort of events. Some of the climbs were particularly testing at times. The last quarter also saw more rain, and this made it slippy and even more draggy. However, I managed to finish feeling really strong. I finished in a time of 5 hours 14 minutes which was about 4 minutes slower than last year so I was a bit disappointed with the overall time. To make things worse it is not possible to find out where I finished in the field – something to do with insurance. However, I think it will have been similar to last year. To sum up, it’s a difficult but rewarding event, although better when dry.
MAYHEM AT MAYHEM – 19TH JUNE 2010
I usually do Mayhem as part of a team, but I could not get anyone to take part this year. In the end I submitted an application to take part solo but heard nothing back from the organisers. I had resigned myself to not taking part, a shame as Mayhem is so much more than just the riding. The enormity of the event makes it a “must be there” event for all mountain bikers.
Luck struck, or so I thought, when trawling the pages of the STW website. I arranged to buy an entry from a guy who was now going in a team. I bought a new six man tent for this event, and my wife was to provide the support. However, on the morning of the event I rang and rang the guy I was buying the entry from but to no avail. I saw he had signed in as himself and once entry had closed the reality hit me – I was not going to be riding Mayhem!
The only high point of the day was test riding a new On-One 456 Carbon. It was sweet, although I have to wait for the 20” frame to come out. I placed my order and shall be getting a custom paint job – must get thinking up a suitable design!
Having set up camp we didn’t want the weekend to be a complete let-down. Aware of the road sportive the following day we did an extra 300 mile round trip to swap bikes and get my road bike. Back at Mayhem we soaked up the atmosphere and got an early night in for the following day.
The Sportive started 8-9am. I rolled up on the line at 8:10am and started off. I was greeted by clear blue skies, rolling hills, and picture postcard villages. I felt strong and was determined to ride off the frustrations of the previous day. I rode much of the event alone, which was uneventful except for my chain falling of the chainring resulting in me veering into some bushes at the side of the road! Doh!
I eventually caught the lead group and then before long rode off the front. I rode with one other rider to the finish.
When the times came out a few days later I found that I finished 4th out of 117 riders, and only 9 seconds behind the third place rider. I was really pleased with this and when I saw all the muddy mountain bikers I felt happy I could sit back, relax, and enjoy the sunshine!
Joyriders Race Team 2010