“When the weather man begins his weather report with the phrase, ‘it’s going to be terrible tomorrow’ you know that it is probably not the best idea to go out riding your bike all day. Having said this, many a brave soul did this at Coed Y Brenin on the weekend for round two of the Fetish UK Gravity Enduro Series.
Coed Y Brenin is nestled in the heart of north Wales bordering Snowdonia, so it has a cheeky hill or two to put sweat on the brow of any cyclist. Perfect. I was really looking forward to the race as it promised some fast, rocky descents.
After riding the course on Saturday the trails seemed to really suit a rider who would be able to endure some long pedally sections, unlike Innerleithen which mainly suited the downhill riders; it just highlights the diversity of this year’s series and format. The stages were scattered on both the Tarw trail side and the side of the relatively new visitor centre, so there was plenty of trails to choose from. Unfortunately due to forestry restrictions some of the best trails were unavailable.
The first three trails began on the Tarw trail side, with the final two on the side of the visitor centre allowing the finish to be placed near to the Go-Ape car park.
Stage 1: (R74)
Stage one kicked off with a gradual descent interdispered with a number of short punchy climbs that often involved picking your way through piles of rocks. This one definitely showed who had been putting in the training.
Stage 2: (Heart of Darkness – Snap, Crackle and Pop)
The stage began on the Heart of Darkness involving a series of tricky flat corners, which then followed onto a ‘Tony Martin’ style time trial down a fire road for at least a minute. Putting on a big chain ring paid dividends at this point. The stage then flowed into Snap, Crackle and Pop which bore more than a resemblance to a dried up stream bed as it was strewn with rocks.
Stage 3: (Rocky Horror – Man trap)
This stage was a real ‘lung buster’ lasting up to around seven minutes, even for the fast boys. The stage was relatively flat at the top, taking in the odd fire road and then finally dropped into Man Trap.
Stage 4: (Cain – Slated and Abel)
In my opinion this was one of the best stages as it began with some technical rock sections, followed by the new 4x style track and then into some tight twisty single-track. The stage then fired you up a gradual climb and into Slated and Abel that clings to the side of the Welsh hillside off a number of high speed drops.
Stage 5: (Beginning of the End)
The final stage, which was also used for seeding, was fairly straight forward. The trail followed ‘Beginning of the End’ up until the car park where it took a tight right over a number of greasy, freshly uncovered roots, then through some muddy slop and finally into the finish via an energy sapping fire road.
Seeding on Saturday allowed all the riders to ride in near perfect conditions. The Elites seeded mainly within 10 seconds of each other with Alex Rafferty taking the number one spot.
Sunday came and for once the weather man was spot on. It began raining, then sleeting and some even reported travelling over to the race in snow. After making my way over to Stage 1 and passing a number of riders missing pedals and suffering with punctures, I knew this was going to be a real test of endurance! After enduring Stages 1 to 3 a fresh set of gloves were needed and a quick pit stop between Stage 3 and 4 was taken advantage of.
On arrival at Stage 4 we were told that we could go whenever we wanted as the organisers had realised that there were some seriously cold and wet people out there. I was a bit apprehensive of this as I had flash backs to the last round where start times were adjusted and some results were confused. However, following Stage 5 the results were calculated and showed Rob Cooksley as the overall winner (on a 29er). Once the race had finished most riders made a hasty retreat to their warm socks and heating in their vans so the podium was a very subdued affair.
Check out the full results here: http://www.racetimingsystems.com/public/results.aspx?raceid=2131
Bike Soup Under 18
1st Will Weston
2nd Joe Harrison
3rd Robert Goodey
Osprey Europe Women
1st Cheri Mills
2nd Alwen Williams
3rd Amanda Wilde
Troy Lee Veteran
1st Richy Lewis
2nd Peter Roberts
3rd Marcus Jones
1st Gary Higgins
2nd Keven Baines
3rd David Heath
Osprey Europe Master
1st Matthew Pritchard
2nd Andrew Devine
3rd James Richards
Streak Clothing Senior
1st Sam Flanagan
2nd David Mirfield
3rd Christopher Keeble-Smith
Schwalbe Tyres Elite Women
1st Helen Gaskell
2nd Sarah Newman
3rd Anja Rees-Jones
Continental Tyres Elite Men
1st Rob Cooksley
2nd Alex Rafferty
3rd Ralph Jones
1st Rob Cooksley
2nd Alex Rafferty
3rd Ralph Jones
4th Aidan Bishop
5th Neil Donoghue
Firstly, congratulations to all that made it round, as the race was a real test of endurance and the weather conditions tested everyone to their limits. Chatting to riders after the race we all swapped stories of being unable to operate our dropper posts or shifters due to a lack of control over our hands due to the extreme cold.
Rich King (21st Veteran)
“I found the stages very physical and pedally unlike Innerleithen but riding this different sort of terrain is what its all about… All in all it was a very wet and cold weekend but none the less enjoyable.”
I felt the race was a great success and Steve and Adrian handled the weather conditions very well and put together a race that showcased some of the best of what Coed Y Brenin had to offer. Thanks to all that were involved in the organisation of the race to make the event possible. More thanks go to all my sponsors which helped me secure 6th in Elite over the weekend.
A final thanks to ‘Steve Parp’ who thought it would be hilarious to call me ‘Lames Green’ all weekend. I look forward to seeing what ‘hilarious’ comments he comes up with next at Round Three at Hamsterley on the 26/27th May – bring it on pal!
Follow my blog for all the latest Gravity Enduro news.
Follow me on Twitter: @yetiukgravity
For further shots of the event, head to Roots & Rain…
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