Kames Keen following Vini Crighton-Poli in practice
Dirt - Vini Crighton-Poli leading out James Keen in practise

It's only been a couple of years since the Mini Enduro series came onto the scene, but it seems to have taken the UK by storm. Just like the Mini Downhill series it's not too full-on and a good introduction to full-length Enduro racing, but as Sandy Plenty reports, it's not just a gateway race - there's some serious (and seriously fast) racing at the top end.

Words: Sandy Plenty

Photos and Video: Dan Jones

Caersws has hosted all manner of mountain bike races over the years. With over a decade of racing on the Welsh hillside, we have seen everything from national downhill races through to Pearce Cycles’ regional races. In the early days the hill was completely covered in trees – a complete contrast to the bald hillside we now race on. The tracks are littered with large stumps, ready to catch riders out if they wander even slightly offline. Like a lot of old downhill venues, Caersws lends itself well to ‘enduro’. Chris Roberts put together four fast, fun stages to keep everyone from the beginner through to the seasoned racer entertained. Although the tracks have a rocky, rooty natural feel to them, there are still some good berms and jumps to help keep your speed up through sections.

Caersws really is a forgotten gem.

Racing started at 12pm, and the sun shone bright, giving the riders something else to think about. Water was being consumed constantly with riders trying to keep hydrated, a good problem to have at a UK race. The Women’s category was very sociable with riders helping and encouraging each other. Claire Bennett just took the win from Hazel Wakefield in second, with Sarah King hot on her heels for third. The Hardtail category was impressive racing: with tracks that better suited a long travel trail bike, there were some top times being laid down. Garrick Thomas rode strong to take the win from James Peters, who was only 1.3 seconds back in second. Third was Oliver Jehu. The Grand Vets category has a lot of fun rivalry and banter, as pockets of friends jostle for position. The win went convincingly to Tegid Humphreys, with Tony Hicks and Malcom Ellis rounding up the top three.

Joel Moore's usually at full pace on the track. Looks like it was no different here.
Dirt- Joel Moore full gas

The Veteran category saw times that would have been up there in Seniors. Andy Sadler (Bad Ass Bikes) took care of business taking the win ahead of Richard King (MDE) in second and Rich Webster (Trailhead) in third. The Master category had a new winner; Andy Lund, a former world cup mechanic for a certain number one female racer, proved that not only is he handy on the spanners, he can also pin it on a bike. Steve Jones (Muddy Bum Bikes) came in a very close second though and Richard Wood was in third.

Just when we thought the racing couldn’t get much faster, the Seniors came through posting some blisteringly fast times. Rob Newman (Banshee Bikes) was on the gas again winning all four stages. Andrew Cooper (Blazing Bikes) also rode amazing with a well-deserved second place, whilst third place went to Luke Griffiths. The young guns battled hard all day; Elliott Heap smashed the category to pieces and took the Junior win by nearly a minute over Austin Salmon in second, with James Keen rounding out the top three.

Camber galore. Time for the knees out...
Dirt -Rob Newman the camber king

In Mini Enduro they run a Pro-Am category for the fastest riders, with all ages invited to race. Caersws was an all-Welsh podium. First: Joel Moore (Muddy Bum Bikes); second: Jono Jones (Troy Lee); and third: Leon Rosser (Bike Park Wales).

Andy Sadler won the Veterans category.
Dirt - Andy Sadler took the Vets win

If you fancy trying enduro racing, or you just want to race some quality tracks, then make sure you enter this next year. The tracks are very downhill-orientated at Caersws, but this made a good contrast to the other venues in the series. Check out http://minienduro.tv for more information. The next round is at the mighty Eastridge Woods in Shropshire.

Here are the results:

Mini Enduro Caersws Results 2014