Nearly 1000 riders turned out to ride the 2019 Dyfi Enduro in Machynlleth in west Wales this bank holiday weekend just gone. After the disappointment of last year when the event had to be cancelled due to a waterlogged camping field, over 600 riders kept their entries on for this year’s event. These were added to by another 400 or so riders who didn’t want to miss out on what has become the season-opener for the summer.
Although ‘summer’ wasn’t quite how you’d have described the temperatures on the Saturday night, when a clear night and northern breeze served to drop temperatures to just below zero overnight. However the event day dawned clear and mild, staying near-enough dry for the whole day.
The course this year had had a big shakeup over previous years. There were still the long, long, gravel grinds, but the order of the regular descents had been changed around and some new ‘never in the Dyfi before’ descents were used so that even veterans of all 17 Dyfi Enduro events had something new to look forward to.
As usual, the Dyfi Enduro peloton made its way through the small town of Machynlleth to cheering crowds – presumably reinforced by the attendees of the Mid-Wales Comedy Festival which was taking place over the same weekend (in the adjacent campsite and in every venue in town). Then it was on to the traditional endless first climb, which sorted the feeling-fit from the feeling-hungover (thanks for the pace-setting, Paul…) and then it was on to a mix of grooved singletrack descents (with little room to pass, which let to some mostly polite trains of people) and some flat-out wider tracks with an assortment of line-choices (most of them wrong…)
For some riders it was a chance to see if their winter riding had kept them on their game, and for others it was an uncomfortable journey of too-far, too-steep and too-scary, but it was reassuring to see everyone finishing with a smile.
One other thing that had changed was the feed station. Rolling into the traditional forest clearing, there was only a lonesome logging trailer to greet riders. They’d have to get another couple of climbs and descents under their belts before the welcome sight of the feed station, complete with sausage rolls, trays of flapjacks and some delicious homemade chilli jams.
This was then followed by one of the sustained technical climbs of the event, which didn’t help the digestion at all… And up until this point, riders had mostly been able to keep bikes and feet dry, but a couple more sections of the damper bits of the forest soon saw riders wearing their traditional covering of forest filth.
Near the end of the 60km-ish course, was a choice of loops: either do another 7.5km to the finish, or do 10km. Not much in it until you saw the amount of climbing (an extra 240m) in the longer loop. In both cases, the final few climbs were littered riders doing the traditional ‘Dyfi dance’ as they strutted trail-side, trying to get rid of cramp.
The final section of this year’s Dyfi Enduro involved the ClimachX trail descent, which I can’t remember ever having been in the event before. It gave riders a long and uninterrupted singletrack blast all the way to the valley floor, leaving everyone grinning from ear to ear. And then they discovered that the Mrs Whippy van at the finish line had free ice creams for competitors. The grins were even wider then.
All that was left then was the long and arduous back road spin to the town (over what always feels like the steepest road climb in Wales – after riding the Dyfi Enduro, anyway…)
In a bit of an anti-climax, riders had been asked to get their bikes jetwashed before collecting their finishing mugs, in order to prevent taking any forestry diseases home on their bikes. Seemingly a bit of a last minute request by the Forestry, the organisers struggled to keep up the bike washing pace with the jetwashes available (something that will inevitably be fixed for next year with a bit more notice.) Nevertheless, riders remained in good spirits (sometimes quite literally) in the queue and many stayed on for the mellow Sunday night celebrations in the beer/dance tent (which didn’t run out of beer like the comedy festival tent seems to do every year…)
In all, a very good way to spend a weekend in Wales and we’re sure that riders will be keen to come back.
The finishing times can be found here. And before you look, yes, Nick Craig skipped round in 2.24.14…