Lewis Bradley headed to Cwmcarn that had risen like a phoenix from the flames to host the final round of the Welsh Gravity Enduro Series.
Last weekend saw the final round of the Welsh Gravity Enduro at Cwmcarn, the blistering cold conditions didn’t put off a sell-out attendance for the year.
Racers had four challenging and completely different stages to tackle, all with their unique twists. The E-bike category also had their longest and most physical stage to date.
Photos by Dave Price.
The Mmash-up format has been a success for the series this year, as people could re-run the stage if they feel like they could go faster or crashed. It also benefits the riders who cannot practice Saturday, making race runs more competitive as it levels the playing field.
For the riders who are looking to progress, it means they can cram in as many miles with race runs as possible within 5 hours.
In the E-bike category, Sam Pilgrim decided to come along with the guys at Haibike and MX Enduro legend David Knight decided to throw himself into the mix.
For the ladies, Red Bull and Trek Factory Racing rider Evie Richards who is UCI CX U21 world champion decided to rock up and have a go at enduro on her Trek cross country bike. She even rode up the push up path to stage 4 (which was very steep).
Tracy Mosley decided to bring the T-MO gang together and won the Elite Women’s category, it was great to see a variety of new and old faces who girls and boys can aspire to be like at these kinds of events.
Stage 1 was an ‘old-school’ classic at Cwmcarn, Airstream is a short and sharp stage that was flat out from the first turn of the crank. It was all about linking each turn into the other and pushing hard in-between to maximise the gap between your competitors. The sharp left-hand hairpin caught out a few people at the end.
If you wanted natural with sprinkles of loam on top, this was the track for you. This was also short but was technical throughout, the flat traverse with the tight trees made it difficult to push on. The lower section was steep and twisty before blazing into the open and fast finish. The aim was to keep momentum and staying off the brakes as much as possible.
Everyone loves a DH trail, right?
Previously used at the start of the year for the DH nationals, Y-Mynydd is the black section that turns right after the tunnel. This top section was full of tight and twisty turns with the odd rocky section to catch you out. The faster you went, the scarier and technical it got.
After a 150m sprint down the fire road, it was into the best singletracks on the ‘Twrch’ trail. Once again, this was flat out that sent you down the hillside as fast as you could go. Everything felt like a blur at one point, there were even some berms that you compress your bike and your body into because it as that fast.
Slam on the brakes and into the last three awkward switchbacks before you were over the finish and thank your mates that you didn’t ride into the brash.
‘Powderhouse’ is on the newer side of Cwmcarn and is the final decent on the ‘Catfal’ trail. Unique in its own way, this was the most ‘enduro’ stage of the day when it came to the length and physical fitness. The fast descents were littered with tight singletrack and switchback’s throughout.
The stage starts fairly fast while you traverse the steep hillside before flattening out at the bottom. This is where pedalling became involved and was essential to keeping momentum out of each turn or rise on the stage.
The longest and most demanding e-bike stage to date, it was a mix of everything that Cwmcarn was renowned for. The challenging uphill and swooping descents made for a unique style of stage, perfect for this type of bicycles.
Don’t be fooled, Mike Thickens posted the fastest time with a 4:18 on this stage. Showing that it was also physically demanding by exceeding the motor limit throughout the stage.
Having done the whole series, I personally think it was the best one of the year. The mix of stages was amazing, and people were grinning all day long. It was also pretty competitive in all categories with some really good stage times by some top and also unknown riders.
Davi Roberts fended off the competition in the e-Bike to add another win to his impressive win tally this year. Team Wideopenmag rider Dan also had a great 1st place finish in a seriously competitive the under 18s showing and our Mechanic Dru finished 2nd.
Tom Dunn took 1st in hardtail and also 2nd in master’s which was very impressive as it was pretty demanding challenge to race the course twice (with a couple of re-runs of stage 2) Tom also got onto both overall Podiums. The top 3 places in the senior category was divided by three seconds with Nat Nott coming out on top, all three would have done very well in the Elite class (2nd and 3rd).
Once again, Cai Grocott displayed his dominance winning the final round and also the over title in the Elite male category with ease. He is definitely one to watch for the future. Caja Parks won the Junior women’s this year with a great display of fitness and riding ability, it will be great to see what she can do next year.
Once again, I finished 5th and also 4th overall in the Elite class which I’m pretty pleased with considering my shoulder is not fully healed from the previous round at Eastridge.
There of some major changes for the Welsh Gravity Enduro for 2019, more will be revealed very shortly so keep an eye out in the future.