Mates Race: The Garw Avalanche

Mountain Biking Magazine



Mates Race: The Garw Avalanche

Mates cake races are growing in popularity, check out the latest mass start event down in South Wales!

The Garw Avalanche

Words: Max Boyce
Photos: Matt McMillan

First things first, I feel a doth of the flatcap to the ‘this is Sheffield’ guys for really sparking the imagination when it comes to putting the fun into your local scene, is in order.

It seems the phenomenon of no-cost and of course highly social ‘mates races’ is here to stay, South Wales has hosted a few over the last year not least the infamous Monduro and Ponduro.

Along these lines there had been rumours of a mass start ‘mates race’ in the Garw muttered since the early summer but things had all gone quiet, perhaps it wasn’t to be for this year, but all of a sudden via the magic of the Facebook, there was a page and a date and a time to meet at the village pub a weeks’ notice was all that was required. The remainder of the details were vague; a mass start race, down a hill somewhere in the Garw was as much as you needed to know. So the fateful morning came around in no time at all and with that it threw a fairly typical autumn day at us; driving wind and rain. Despite the weather a good bunch of riders had shown up for the inaugural Garw Avalanche.

Some stats:
Distance: 4.86 Miles
Elevation Gain: 255 ft
Elevation Loss: 1,683 ft

The motley crew gathered and were led slowly up the route they would race back down which was lucky as it allowed everyone to size up the track and slither around on the new greasy fresh sections, one step forward and two steps back. Everyone was buzzing though, the track looked varied and really good.

As they came out of the trees to the top of the hill and into the cloud the wind was really driving the rain and people huddled in the deep ruts that made up the race track waiting for a few of the riders who were struggling with the climb, notably Pete ‘Wallyman’ Mascall who had by far the best racekit for the day but was lacking his super powers after a heavy night on the pop. Eventually everyone made it up to the trig point at the top ready for the carnage to begin.

Riders had to line their bikes up (of sorts) and were taken about 40m away from the bikes (note: visibility was 40m at best) for the Le Mans start with a valleys twist. Each rider had to choose from cider or beer at the pub and had to carry a can with them to the top. So the klaxon was sounded and the rule stated no-one could run for their bike until they had downed their can. Can’s necked, riders all scurried for their bikes in the cloud and raced off into the grey. (Ed: Just a note to say all the empty cans were collected by the course sweeper who drained any dregs then recycled them)
Garw Avalanche

Chesty cam video by Matt Mcmillan

With beer or cider repeating all the way to the finish line riders raced across moorland in the cloud (where no-one really knew where they were going!), down fast rocky tracks, across boggy moorland, down rutted singletrack, rooty and rocky wooded trails, up climbs, down steep fresh loamy new build sections, over slippery wooden bridges and pallets and finally through the town and back down the road to the finish at the pub.

Garw Avalanche winner Rowan Sorrell

Wooden Spoon winner/loser Pete Ball.

A massive shout out to the organisers for putting on such a great day and a proper track, they had in a matter of a week, cleared, raked and taped all the new sections and put everything in place to make it happen.

The Garw is on the map and the guys went out and delivered what many had been talking about doing all summer but never got around to. They set the bar high with this one, next year’s event is already in the calendar and with a trophy (and probably the pimpest wooden spoon in existence) up for grabs I’m sure plenty more will too. In the mean time it’s time to start scoping out the next venue as these fun events continue to go from strength to strength.

Some shout outs:

Garw local Matt Pinches who suffered with his drinking speeds and was last off the line but made up for lost time pinning all the steep loam and coming through the pack.

Matt McMillan the beer burping camera man, for his onboard video and running commentary.

The Braich y cymmer for their great hospitality, food and projector to show the footage after the race.

Sean who rode the last third literally on his rim.

Pete Maskill – AKA ‘Wallyman’ – Bridgends favourite superhero


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