The 2019 BEMA British National Enduro Series came to a close last weekend in the beautiful North Wales town of Machynlleth.
Welsh Gravity Enduro brought together their Mash Up format and a round of the British National Enduro Series for this event.
With the trails on private land and not accessible before the race, this would be the ultimate test of rider skill.
Photos by Dave Price.
The final round of the 2019 British National Enduro Series was held in Machynlleth, with five stages that were all natural and almost completely unridden race stages awaited the riders.
To level the playing field, the map for the course was only released at the venue as it went dark on Friday night. Charlie Williams (the organiser) putting the last liaison direction arrow in place as most were heading to sleep.
A completely blank canvas awaited both those who had turned up to race the Welsh Gravity Enduro Series Mash Up on Saturday as well as the British National Enduro on Sunday.
Local knowledge would be redundant and with the five stages varying from tight gnadgery forest verging on the vertical, to open grass land interspersed with gorse bushes it would be anyone’s guess as to who would end up on the top step.
Stage 1 “Star Wars” required a lot of skill to keep the wheels rolling, tight and twisty with many roots thrown in, steep slate chutes lead into a final section that was a lesson in flow.
Stage 2 “Deck The Halls” was the steepest, shortest and easiest to get wrong of the five stages. Once you were in, you are not stopping.
Stage 3 “Glanmerin 1 Skulldiggery”, the longest stage built especially for the race and kept so secret that only 3 people had ridden it before the event. Starting high above Machynlleth, this trail flowed through slate drops, gorse and a tight section over a slate wall, interspersed with a punchy climb or two before heading into the trees, fresh grass, loam and steeps.
Stage 4 “Glanmerin”. A new top section utilising the features of the hill caught more than a few out before heading into the trees, similar to Stage 3 but steeper towards the bottom. That corner claimed more than a few scalps over the weekend.
Stage 5 “Mach 10”. A trail that has matured into a fine race stage. Many a rider’s favourite, it had everything, drops, steeps, roots, mud, grass and a flat out sprint to the line.
The loop was only 25km long with 1190m of climbing over 5 stages. Each one unique and prepared purely for this event, some on private land that means they will be off limits outside of racing. Practice was time limited so just riding what was in front of you as fast as you could was the order of the day.
Joel Moore was the man that turned up and won the race on the day, with practice being limited on pretty much virgin trails, he was the one that showed riding essentially blind was his forte. He wouldn’t be outside the top three on any of the stages.
Likewise in the ladies it was Sarah Gamsjaeger from Austria who took the top step in the senior women after winning all bar one of the stages, relinquishing stage two to Rachel Manning.
Helen Gaskell claimed the Masters women win on the day making a welcome return for 2019. Helen would come in second on stage one and five to Katie Wakeley but would then spool the turbos and win every other stage. These two would only be six seconds apart once the dust had settled. Katie claimed the Womens Masters title following a day of trading stage wins with Helen Gaskell. With 3 wins and 2 seconds which must be the most consistent performance of the year.
Team Wideopenmag’s Christo Gallagher suffered a puncture on stage 3, coming in 53rd on the stage and 22nd on the day. With the final round counting towards the series overall this would cost him the overall title, and would allow the super consistent Sam Shucksmith to take second place on the day and with it, the overall win.
Brady Stone has ridden consistently all year and won the day and claimed the U21 male title. He won all bar the last stage on the day but wasn’t far enough ahead to relax at any point.
With sporadic showers throughout the weekend riders needed to be precise and rubber-side down as titles were at stake in not only the individual titles, but also the team championship. Specialized UK narrowly claimed the title from South West Worlds Team.
Dan Bishop stepped up at the last round to beat James Hughes who won at Round 1 and 2, won again in Wales to take the Vets title. It would be super close between the two riders here as well, with only 0.6 seconds separating them once they’d handed in their timing chips. Fair play to James Hughes who took the Mash Up win on the Saturday though, is that where the 0.6 seconds went?
Rich King proved again that he is one if the fastest in the Grand Vets taking 4th on the day was enough to secure the overall.
The ever over-subscribed masters category has been fought tooth and nail all year by Reece Langhorn and Ian Austermuhle, it was Reece who won on the day by 6 seconds from Ian to claim the title. Team Wideopnemag’s Chris Hutchens would win the opening stage but would be bettered by the two title contenders and and Rob Young, so would have to settle for fourth on the day.
U18 has been a 3-way tussle all year between Jayden Randell, Calum Johnson & Jack Ackroyd. Calum would take the win on the day but Jayden pushed hard this weekend to take 3rd and with it, the overall title.
Ellen Flewitt dominated the U21 Womens category and only dropped one stage on the Sunday to Emily Bridson, racking up 3 wins over the year to claim the title.
Despite having to settle for fifth on the day, in the senior women it was Kirsty Adam had done enough over the course of the year to amass enough points that fifth on the day put her on the top step for the overall.
The weather was relatively kind over the course of the weekend, Saturday was practice day and also round 2 of the Welsh Gravity Enduro Mash Up Series, over 85 BNES riders had chosen to enter the Mash Up as well as race the BNES, this gave them the advantage of being able to practice stages 3, 4, 5 all day and get timed.