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Racing

Afan Schwalbe 4X NPS and Euro – Rain, Rocks and Rubbing

From Dirt Issue 113 – July 2011

Words by Seb Kemp. Photos by Grant Robinson.

Friday evening of the May Bank Holiday was spent battling through the gridlock of half–term traffic. Nose to tail, crawling west into the setting sun, eventually making it to the pleasant little valley in South Wales where a weekend of congested racing was to be held. The golden light and pinkish clouds held great promise but like too many race weekends and Bank Holidays, days when the weather counts, conditions were less than favourable.

The course, dusty and dry the evening before, turned wet, gloopy and greasy in places. Riders used to hard–pack conditions struggled on tyres with tight tread patterns. The rock garden – a unique feature in 4X track design – gave riders white knuckles as they scrabbled and scratched for traction on the mud smeared stone. The wide track tapered down to one distinct lane as racers followed the line of least resistance. Jumps became rollers to pump and pedal over as the earth gathered resistance in the dampening conditions. The soft terrain slowed the pull of gravity and the somewhat long course became tiring for riders to push pedals in the practice session and early motos. But after lunchtime the clouds weakened as they too became tired of lightening their load. Then the breeze took effect and the track began to dry up and speed up just a little bit, and just in time for the knock out rounds to begin.

The action, which had been damp and wet to watch at first, became closer and passing happened right up to the final corner in some rounds. Some tumbles occurred between riders as the track narrowed towards the rock garden and the rapidly drying course allowed riders to try previously unexplored lines in an attempt to pass. Riders who looked timid and out of their depth earlier in the day started to attack. Shoulders loosened and eyes lifted from front wheels making the racing more lively>>

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