UK Gravity Enduro 2 – Coed-y-Brenin, Wales

After a tough few weeks of XC racing I was really looking forward to a little more gravity racing this weekend ! With the weather always looking to play its part we managed to find a dry window to get out and ride the first 3 stages on Friday afternoon. Coed-y-Brenin was one of the original trail centres and its testament to how well built the trails are as over 15 years later they are still in good condition. We all knew this round of the Enduro series was going to be a man made trail centre and I was expecting a lot more pedalling than Innerleithen as I have ridden the trails many times and they are xc trails ! The first 3 stages took in most of the old, original Red Bull trail and they were quite pedally but also physically tough as the rock here is just solid and it was a good upper body workout as well as a leg workout !

Stages 4 and 5 were on the new side of the road and took in some of the MBR trail. Stage 4 was a great stage with some flat rocky technical trail at the start then into a new smooth bermed and jumpy free ride trail, some fireroad and a short climb and then a great descent to finish. Stage 5 was a short stage but it had a brutal 45 sec pedal on the flat to get to the finish arena so it was hard one to finish on !

Saturday was a nice dry day for practice and for qualifying. I had a good seeding run, taking 1st place ahead of Helen Gaskell by close to 20 sec.

Thanks to Jacob Gibbins for this picture of some dry riding during the seeding run.

Sunday as forecast poured with rain all day long ! I was so glad of my new sponsor Endura as this is the first year I have been sponsored by a kit company that makes kit designed for the UK weather !! I ended up riding in my full waterproof jacket and 3/4 waterproof shorts and I even got out my Shimano winter boots to keep my feet toastie all day !! On a day like that good kit really does make a massive difference and I was so pleased to have good kit and the experience / old age to know when to use it ! I saw so many people freezing cold and wet through without any waterproofs.

Staying warm was the biggest challenge during the day as once your hands were soaked through the cold wind soon froze your hands when you got up to speed on some of the fire road sections. I had some serious pain as my hands came back to life at the end of stage 3 !

Trying to stay warm required huddling in the trees to gain body warmth !!

I was really happy with how I was riding and I really felt the benefits of the XC racing and training I have done since the last enduro as I felt strong on all the pedalling sections. I caught up with my 20sec rider on most stages and on the long and flat stage 3 I managed to pass the whole elite women’s field, so I knew I was going well !

Sadly my luck ran out and about 1 min in to stage 4 I ended up on the floor whilst taking a big berm on the freeride section. Getting up I wondered what had happened, but as I set off again I realised that I had a rear flat ! With a lot of the stage still left I decided to stick a tube in and get to the finish. In the panic of the moment I forgot I had a CO2 inflator and just used my pump like normal, so lost a very valuable 6 mins on stage 4. Sadly I was not able to get that much time back and finished 3 mins back in 5th place. I was pretty gutted as I had worked really hard all day and came away with nothing. I was even more frustrated as I had no idea how I had punctured as I was running tubeless, however investigations the next day when I got home revealed a small dent in the rim and some damage to the bead and sidewall of the tyre, so I must have hit the rim earlier in the day or earlier on that stage which must have lost some air pressure then when I pushed hard in the berm the tyre just burped and lost all the air…bummer.

That’s enduro racing and you have to get yourself and your equipment through the whole day. That said I still had a great day and even in those conditions the format and social nature of enduro racing is a winner !

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