Round 3 of the Welsh Gravity Enduro winter/spring series was held at Cwm Carn Forest this weekend to do battle in the woods of South Wales.
Over 250 racers descended on the small parking centre of CwmCarn Forest Drive, eager to get a good days riding and racing in at one of South Wales’ greatest trail centres.
Words and Photos by Saskia Dugon.
The Welsh Gravity Enduro Series are known for their immensely popular ‘mash-up’ style races, and CwmCarn was just that. The mash-up format allows riders to race all day long, with the tracks being live from morning till late afternoon. Racers are able to do as many runs as they wish, and their fastest time of the day is the one that will be used in the final results.
These races are not only incredibly fun, they also encourage new people to the enduro racing scene as there are no timed uphill sections and no penalties for not getting to the start gate on time as well as the freedom to do as many runs as the rider wishes, taking the pressure off and allowing riders to race under more natural conditions.
The rain in Spain…
One local racer, Greg, felt that “the mash up format is wicked, it’s so nice to be able to ride around with your mates in every category with no set stage times. It also gives you a chance of redemption when you inevitably mess up.”
“The mash up format is wicked, it’s so nice to be able to ride around with your mates…”
Like most races in Wales, the good old rain had to make an appearance, because it wouldn’t be a welsh race without mud, would it? Thankfully the majority of the tracks were sheltered by the forest trees, however the wind managed to break through as the trees swayed and creaked.
Long and mellow.
The morning started off fairly dry whilst the riders begun their first round of climbing to warm up. The climb was described as “long and mellow” which helps make them more accessible to newer riders, and also means that less juice is spent in the climb, allowing the racers to put down more laps and harder runs.
Points mean prizes!
Stages 1 and 3 were sponsored by Bird MTB and Stage 2 was sponsored by The Mountain Bike Chalet, as well as sponsorship from HaiBike, Mojo Suspension, Hope, MudHugger, Pro-Green MTB, Pedal a Bike Away and Race Co Cycles UK. Along with the stage sponsorship, there were also prizes up for grabs, but with a twist. Instead of a special podium prize, there were a pair of Fox 36 forks up for grabs for the person who got 36th place (overall) and a holiday from Mountain Chalet for the 72nd position.
Stage one was very typical of a trail centre, with hard pack terrain with turns perfect for pumping to gain speed, making it a really fun and flowing track. However, quite a bit of pedalling was still required as there were a few uphill sections, making it “physical but still fun” as senior, Lewis Bradley described. It made a great track for the first run of the day.
Short and tech.
Stage two was a lot shorter, but it was also more technical. With tighter berms to shred the best of tyres, and narrow singletrack weaving between the trees.
Stage three was the Pedalhounds track, which was the closest to downhill out of the three stages, with fast straights, drops and technical rooty sections, stage three added variety in the days racing and some racers welcomed the downhill section saying that it was “amazing to have a proper full-bore gravity fed stage.”
The BikePark Wales team dominated the Elite men’s category, with Leon Rosser and Rowan Sorrell taking 1st and 2nd place respectively.
Intense Racing’s Ajay Jones took a win on Stage 3’s Pedal Hounds as he powered his new Tracer through the mud.
Trek Racer and Ambassador Tracy Moseley turned up to race with her T-Mo crew and smashed the Elite Womens category by over 1 minute. Her T-Mo riders also dominated the Junior Womens category, with XC & Enduro racer Hattie Harnden taking the lead over team mate Meg James by over 20 seconds. These girls are worth keeping an eye on this season and as they approach into the senior category in the upcoming years.
Bike Doctor and Ride Gevo rider, Cai Grocott led the way in the senior mens category by taking the win in all stages and building up a 12 second lead over 2nd place. Local sponsor, Team Skene had 3 of their racers in the top 10 with Kyle Fletcher, Fergus Ryan and Perry Thomas taking 2nd, 5th and 7th respectively.
As a sponsor of the event, it was good to see Bird Morvelo racer Tomas Kupstys take the win in the hardtail category and flying the flag for hardtail weapons everywhere.
“All in all, a brilliant, well-run event”
The loss of the British Enduro Series for 2017 has given a variety of smaller races the opportunity to create more events all over the country and to create some more ‘local’ racing. This is not to say however, that the likes of the Welsh Gravity Enduro series is not capable of putting on a full blown enduro event, as we will see at at Dyfi, where they will hold the Welsh Open which also joins forces with the Enduro World Series to be an EWS qualifier.