Wideopenmag’s Lewis Bradley headed to the sun and dust of Afan for round 2 of the 2018 Welsh Gravity Enduro Series.
With the sun out in full effect and a solid mix of man-made and natural trails high in the Afan Valley, the Welsh Gravity Enduro Series’ second round was a perfect example of how good the mash-up format can be.
Last Sunday, we took a trip to Bryn Bettws, also known as Afan Bikepark for round 3 of the Welsh Gravity Enduro Series. The sun was blistering, and riders were ready for a mix of natural, trail centre and bike park stages. This is my local spot and have been coming here for the last 7 years. Since then, I have seen this place go from unknown to a popular place for everyone. It’s pretty sweet to see everyone racing on the trails I grew up on.
Before the racing started, the mood around the pits was relaxed. The riders were changing their wet tyres for Semi-slicks and dry’s, something which is unheard of around this area. Racers were keen to get going and sample some of the best trails in the area.
Most of the talk was about stage 2, the new lower section called ‘Six Feet Under’ which was released 2 days before the race caused a lot of hype between riders as it has never been ridden before. People were keen to sample the loam but I don’t think they expected dust in nearly every steep turn. This stage was by far the riders favourite as it had a mixture of everything. The fast and rough trail called ‘Graveyard’ kept riders on edge before dropping into the loamy and dusty terrain.
I have never seen Afan so dry before, it was strange was strange to go so fast down some of the section which I normally ride in the slippery and wet mud. The Bikepark stage was like riding on marbles, luckily the guys swept the turns so that you could hit them has hard as you possibly could come race day. The same could not be said for the 4x track and would catch a lot of people out on the rocky and loose turns. The trail centre stages were fast, and riders were pushing their limits as they were adapting to the dry and rocky conditions.
As the blistering sun loomed over the riders, times were starting to tumble down as the stages were getting more hard pack while riders pushed to their limits. Tired faces suddenly turned to exitemet and laughter when they re-cap to each other on how their run went. A quick refuel stop and riders were back up on the hill to do the stages all over again.
As the dust settled on nearly 5 hours of racing, riders were coming into the café and back out again to see if they could scrape seconds off their times. Local boy Leigh Johnson would set the fastest times of the day on each stage, just showing how dominant he is in the Uk at the moment. Katie Wakley would also win all three stages and go onto winning the weekend by over 16 seconds over the other female competitors.
A few riders that are worth mentioning would be Tom Dunn winning the Hardtail and masters category, a tough as to do at least six fast race runs without a mistake. Another would be Ben Jones winning the Senior category and would be up there with some of the fastest elite boys.
Round 4 will be held further north at Eastridge in September. Another mix of trail centre and natural terrain for riders to tackle… Let’s just hope the sun will be there too.
Full results and all things Welsh Gravity Enduro-related can be found over on their website.