Sun and dust awaited riders for the opening round of the 2019 Lapierre BEMBA British National Enduro Series this weekend.
There must have been a few nervous faces behind the scenes at this week’s double-header at Afan, with the British National Enduro Series and Welsh Gravity Enduro making the most of the summer conditions on track at least.
Team Wideopenmag’s Christo Gallagher has brought us his report which you can read below.
Catch all Wideopenmag’s BEMBA British National Enduro Series content from this weekend here.
The first round of the new British National Enduro Series kicked off in Afan Forest. The Welsh Gravity Enduro Series organisers put on a great weekend for everyone, with the first round of the Welsh series happening on the Saturday as well, it was a busy weekend with a buzzing feel around the event area whilst everyone caught up with each other after a long off season.
The trails that were put on for the weekend were a good mix of pedalling, techy tricky rocks, trail centre and flat out speed as well, so there was plenty for everyone to enjoy.
The first stage took riders 10 kilometres from the race area for a five minute lung-buster down one of the technical trail centre stages that Afan has to offer. Many in practice thought it was maybe not up to scratch, but after racing it I thought it was really fun if you were prepared to taste blood at the end.
The second stage headed back towards the race area and started on some classic trail centre before finishing on some nice dusty tight corners to finish. The dust would prove to make or break some riders weekends with the loose conditions really leading to some track deterioration.
Stage three wasn’t one where you were going to win the race, but definitely one where you could lose it. A short one and a half minute sprint with some really tricky fresh corners thrown into the middle, just when your legs were really starting to hurt. It was a short blast, but it really hurt.
The day took a more gravity focus for stages four and five. Stage four, the steepest of the day started on some trail centre before quickly going natural and riding some really steep dusty loose terrain out in the clear felled trees. Probably a riders favourite this stage.
And finally stage 5. Flat out from top to bottom, riding some great flowing trail centre, fast techy sections and some fresh loam to round out the day before jumping into the finish arena.
With the stages in mind it proved to be some really good racing in all the categories. The new BEMBA categories added a bit of confusion with there being no elite category and masters following the UK format as opposed to the EWS format, but this weekend it didn’t effect the top three overall in the men and women.
Taking the top spot for the women this weekend was Becky Cook took the win with a time of 16:38 ahead of Kirsty Adam (17.46) and Katie Wakely (18.02).
In the men’s category it was local boy Leigh Johnson who took the win by over 12 seconds from Matty Stuttard and myself Christo by 30 seconds.
The first round of the new BEMBA National Enduro Series I think we can safely say was a success and we will see you at the next round at Graythwaite hosted by PMBA on the 04/05 of May 2019.