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Brutal, tough, exhausting, type 2 fun, survived, epic, beast. Just some of the words that were used to describe round 2 of the British Enduro Series in the Dyfi Forest.
It sure was a national standard round! I, amongst others, found the race loop to be challenging and brutal at times!
With the forecast looking alright we all awoke to rain Saturday morning and apparently it had been most the night! Beginning to think I jinx that as I rolled out of the arena with dry lube on my chain!
The Practice Loop
With a spin out from Machynlleth town to the forest we were soon making some significant height gain to the stages. The rain didn't last too long and it was soon clearing and starting to warm up nicely. All but the seeding stage, a new one for this round, had been race on before. The usually and fantastic Dyfi mixture of fast rocky chutes, steep muddy rooty turns, lung busting sprints and hard packed trail centre tracks ensued. Then awaited the seeding stage/stage 1/stage 6, freshly dug and cut for the race. It was a massive mud fest!
Made it back in time to have some lunch before heading to the arena to start off up the hill for seeding with the rest of the girls. Pleased to say I made it down a lot better than when I practiced it just an hour earlier! A combination of one foot off, two feet off, tripod action enabled me to get to the finish for a semi sprint! Crazy, muddy stage!
After a long day in the saddle, covering roughly 60km with 1900m of ascent I was pleased to qualify in 5th spot.
Rain! Ahhhhh! More rain! Should be used to it by now! Luckily it stopped just as us girls rolled out of the arena at 8am to start the race loop.
We were given 70mins to get to stage 2, and I almost needed all that! My legs felt so heavy. I opted to carry my full face helmet and wear my open face on the transitions. So glad I did as I was such a hot, very red, sweaty mess!
First stage, without dramas, done. Nerves put to rest (a little!). Onto the next, the long but beautiful transition awaited as we popped out of the forest onto open moor land and beautiful ridges. The morning mist starting to roll off the surrounding hills, Cadair Idris still shrouded in cloud. A stunning transition!
Made it with plenty of time, 20mins in fact! This stage was the most talked about, the top section was steep, tight, and an absolute mud fest! We all found it hard. It didn't stop there though; this was the stage with a long sprint/pedal in the middle. Proper lung burner! It took me 9mins 34secs to get down the beast, not helped by the fact I lay down for a bit of it!
With very little hanging around we shot out the bottom of the stage and got on with it to get to stage 4. I loved stage 4, found my flow and speed, pumping roots and sliding the back round. Awesome amount of support on stage 4 too, locals Team Bont out in full force!
Off up to stage 5, the last section on the Climax Trail, the best bit of trail centre singletrack in north wales. Fact. In my books anyways!
Making the spin back into Machynlleth, I found the little uphills on the tarmac hard work! I was spent, my legs felt finished. One more stage to go to finish and I was having to dig deep. I've not felt that tired in a long time, work to be done for sure!
We were given plenty of time to get to top of the last stage so I was happy I could take my bike for a walk up the last transition. Happy is the wrong word really! I'm a very stubborn person, I hate pushing my bike and usually wouldn't entertain the idea but I'd hit the wall. Squeezing my last gel into my mouth I hoped it would give me enough buzz to get the last stage done. Stage 6 was a right mare for me! I ended up going below that optimum speed needed to keep the wheels from clogging up with mud and found myself mid stage, both wheels locked up with mud wrestling my bike down the steepest part of the track! As Martha screamed past me and then Monet, I got so frustrated with my heavy bike that wasn't moving as it should! Eventually I stopped, pulling and ripping at the mud on the rear triangle of my bike to free it up and I was on my way again. I managed to pass Monet but Martha was long gone! Little speedster!
I dribbled across the line in the lamest attempt at a sprint. Finished! Yes! What a race, I managed to finish in 6th spot. Phew!
As usual we all waited for the women to come down off the hill and congratulated each other on a massive achievement. Reliving the dramas of the day we'd all been through, the shared suffering that goes on at these races makes me wonder, we are a special bunch of women! Always pushing to find where that limit is. If it doesn't break you, it makes you stronger! Massive chapeau to all that competed and completed the race. And huge congratulations to fellow Sealskinz Ambassador Traharn on her 2nd place!
Many thanks to my sponsors; it was most certainly a Mudhugger and Sealskinz socks weekender! My Flare clothing was on point all weekend, can't wait for the new race kit coming soon! And Evolution Bikes Bangor for keeping Bert tip top!
Round 3 of the BES is happening 11/12th June in Afan Forest South Wales. Fingers crossed for less mud.