Rd1 of the UK Gravity Enduro series went down at a cold and muddy Afan Forest bike park. Five stages, 20miles, 2500/3000 ft of vertical climb, 300ish riders and not one, but two burger vans.
Dan Atherton and Tracy Moseley went easy on the burgers and heavy on the pedals as they claimed the top spot on the UK Gravity Enduro box at rd1 Afan Forest.
Here’s the Enduro bullet points:
RD 1 of the UK Gravity Enduro was based at the Afan Bike Park, you know the one with the plastic camel.
Weather: Dry but bloody cold.
Wheel sizes: A mixture.
Venue: Afan Bike Park.
Facilites: Toilets/showers/bike wash/cafe/plastic camel/burger vans*2/chimera (wood burning stove thing)/helicopter.
Practice on Saturday, then seeding on stage 5 set the orders for Sundays race.
Sunday. 9.30 start for the girls. From the start a 40min-ish pedal up the fireroad to the aptly named Windy Point for stage one. Icy winds accompanied by the eerie howl of the wind turbines set the early mood. Not sure how many actually practiced this stage on Saturday since it was so far out but this section was fun (well for for me being a travelling marshal, maybe not sprinting against the clock). A 3 minute-plus fast and flowy trail through the conifers on the frozen rocky ground.
20 minute blast back down the fireroad to Stage 2, the Graveyard. Knocking on for four minutes, I think you could call this one “nadgery”, a couple of techy rock corners to get through and some short climbs, all about keeping your flow here.
On to stage 3 with the shortest transition time, 15mins, but easily doable. Stage 3 began with the swooping, flowy berms of the Zig Zags trail, before a short fireroad sprint leading you in to the bottom section of the infamous Wall. Probably the best stage of them all. Fast, rocky, technical. Nearly 7 minutes for the Elite riders.
A climb then a push then a climb took you up to the newly built Afan Bike Park trails for the start of stage 4. This is where things got slightly messy. The stage deviated from the surface trail after a minute or so into a freshly cut section, which due to the amount of rain that had fallen, morphed into axle deep gloop. Front mudguards that had worked wonders up till then became jammed solid with thick wheel locking mud. Cyclocross running skills came in handy here. Shame, would have been a flier in the dry.
A long old climb back up passed the finish arena to the final stage. The sub zero temperature was freezing the mud on your bike as well as gear cables/mechs at this point. The start took you through some frozen ruts and flowing corners then up a short fireroad climb and onto another boggy singletrack section before spitting you out at the top of the Afan 4x track within sniffing distance of the finish, cup of tea and burger van.
All in all maybe one of the most physical Enduros for some. Mid week rain and the Artic weather on the day made riders dig deep for strength. But at the finish there were still a lot of smiles all round.
Rd 2 at Innerleithen promises to be more gravity oriented with a bigger grin factor.
Elite Men’s results
Elite Women’s results
More news, results, photos and video coming soon!