Rob “Box” Cooksley and Hazel Wakefield take home the silverware at the Brechfa enduro down South Wales way.
Brechfa Enduro. Bad Ass
Words and photos: Steve Jones
It was just another day at the Angel in Llansawel. A group of Scarlets supporters had mauled themselves into the corner underneath the gigantic fireplace in a parallel world with the mixed bunch of local farmers smashing the living daylights out of the resident supply of Carling and dry roasts.
Outside the proprietor and her boyfriend pulled hard on a brace of Lamberts, beside them the tired mud stained face of a banker from Cardiff propped his bike up and sank a Guinness. Three high viz blokes guarding the junction south to Talley or north to Rhydycymerau hinted at other goings -on. Down the street the village hall had become branded up, a group of women handing out free party bags to riders rolling in from the surrounding hills.
Back inside the hall was a return to normality as a local quartet gently rocked out an eccentric mix of tamborine and violin type tunes. It was all less than familiar.
Some well-known faces began to pop up. Doris the local bed and breakfaster handed out tickets to Tracy Moseley but she was here to provide hospitality to boyfriend James Richards and DirtTV video man John Parkin. Well that was a while after she had spent the day helping on the timing and finished discussing the weather with Doris, a large man, measured of gait, long in the nose and wonderfully hard on the fags.
Brechfa mountainbike clubs “Frostbite 40” was very much the place to give yourself a New Year beating before relaxing to a well made cup of tea and bacon sandwich whilst the timing crew busied themselves away back stage to get the results out. Refreshing commitment in all things two wheeled.
About 30km it was regularly up but the alongs and downs came at frequent intervals too. A chilled three hour outing and back for lunch to the welcome smile of Doris, that silver haired old fox tricking us all with weather talk.
A mean wind vied with riders for control of the first stage, a trail type descent full of berms and yet surprisingly short of grip. Balanced in flow and tempo this was an upbeat start under clear blue skies, and after a couple of climbs mixed in with the stuff of twenty first century trail centres, we arrived at Frostbite’s Special Stage 2 having not really witnessed anything chilling.
The trail rose, dipped, carved right into a set of rollers but thereafter pretty much ruined the entire field on a vicious half dozen uphill switchbacks. Part of the temporary and mostly forgotten pain and suffering of enduro riding this spilled us out with a tail wind and marvelous turn of speed into the lower and darker parts of Brechfa forest.
A man with a red van and box of bananas greeted us high on the hill and after a quick loop that included some high quality singletrack we danced into one of the Gorlech trail descents. Small jumps and turns, it banks hard left and drops you – a bunch of four wheel drivers with wax jackets were stuck in a pitiful rut – then we flew off, my riding mate and photographer Roo Fowler pushing the edge of his tyres into the valley floor.
Fifteen minutes of climbing dumped us into the highpoint and finale – another eight minutes of climbing. Call me old fashioned if you will but this was fucking relentless. Yet now sat at home with over a gallon of Loweswater Gold to look forward to it was but a transitory moment of…well I’m not exactly sure the benefit…muscle building maybe? I look forward to the super compensation – that’s always been an inherent part of mountainbiking – you get rewards and you get damages.
Enduro is bringing riders back together. The Frostbite mixed lycra with baggies, Troy Lee with heart rate monitors. Everyone took something but ultimately it was about people getting to grips with events run at an affordable cost – twenty quid to Air Ambulance – by a bunch of folk prepared to give up their Sunday morning, Tracy Moseley included.