The Dyfi Enduro is, if you unbelievably haven’t heard about it, THE bike event of the year. The entries sold out in a matter of minutes, crashing the organisers’ server in seconds meaning that the allocated 750 places expanded to around 1000 as a result!
1000 people back there!
Set in the town of Machynlleth in mid Wales, riders are greeted by the awesome locals who get involved with every aspect of the weekend. With the event taking place at the same time as a comedy festival in the town it gets pretty hectic in the beer tent in the evenings. The atmosphere around the weekend is a testament to the commitment of the town and organisers to welcoming riders looking to take on the short (55km) or long (65km) enduro courses. Enduro in the sense of endurance xc rather than the dropper post brigade.
The course has kept many of the classic sections including the mega steep and rocky ‘world cup’ dh and sections of the ‘climax’ trail with added natural loose and muddy sections to boot. Highlights for me include the seat of the pants slatey steep descents found throughout and the banter on course at the feed stations and random supporter stops along the way such as the ‘free beer’ tent.
As for the race/event itself the usual road lead out quickly arrived at the first of many epic fire road climbs that rapidly spread out the field. The race length at just over 2 1/2 hours for the winner is the sort that makes it difficult to judge effort for. Not completely flat out but very close. Due to the straight up straight down nature and the technical descents you don’t really get a chance to recover resulting in some mad heart rates throughout. Dan Evans put in a stormer to take a convincing win by 5 minutes to Neal Crampton. Matt Page had a series of punctures putting him out of contention to be first back. Shouts to Tom Ward riding for Newdales Cycles for 6th with a big effort on the last climb after being on the beers the night before!
My race was a bit different to what I’ve experienced since taking things a bit more seriously in the last 18 months or so. Despite doing a fair few endurance events I’ve never really ridden/raced within a group for a sustained period. There were 8 of us who seemed to be riding together for most of the day. Being a fan of the downhills I managed to claw back a lot of the time that I was losing on the climbs but found it hard to hold off people due to the length of the climbs. A couple of brave over takes were necessary to make the most of the technical trails which suit me. Despite being on a hard tail I continue to be amazed by my Trek 29ers ability to take the thrashings I’ve been giving it recently. Throw in to the mix a couple of ‘enduro’ riders who were obviously mega fit, hauling their full sussers and baggies up the climbs then smashing the downhills and taking minutes out of the rest of us.
So in an unusual turn of events I found myself thinking I might have to actually employ a race strategy at this point which was, with the 10km sign to go looming, an all out ‘heroic’ attack. The ‘heroism’ lasted about 5km where I managed to get in to the front 3rd of our now more strung out group of riders by hauling my ass out of the saddle on the climbs to give it the beans. But disaster at 5km to go, what I’m now naming a ‘hard and rough bonk’ resulted in my stomach giving up the ghost. Attempting to bring my now epically nailed legs back to life by shoving the last of my gels down didn’t have the desired effect! So two options, stop and chunder or carry on to the end and hope for the best. I ended up doing something in between and a minor chunk might have emerged mid climb to lubricate the hillside of Machynlleth but the rest stayed down. Frustratingly I wasn’t far off the top 20 which would have been an even better prospect than my 25th place finish. Ah well, next time eh.
Looking back at my results over the years makes for an interesting (at least for me) read and improvement in fitness. Apart from 2012 when I had nearly a year off after an operation, as you can see things have looked up! I think I’m starting to get in to the territory of hard fought marginal gains, less pizza and beer required before the world 24 champs later this year, boo hiss.
Previous margin to winners time.
My tent is on its last legs. Luckily it survived the night!