There's always a few weekends a year where you get two or three great events that clash. Last weekend was one of those with the local event Enduro 6, the Gorrick 100 and the Dyfi all on held on the same day.
Normally I always like to support the local event and therefore would of chosen Enduro6 but for this year the plan was to get out there and try some different events. With that in mind I managed to pick up a couple of last minute entries for the Dyfi and myself and Lee Gratton headed to the event for the first time.
I went into the event off the back off Exposure 12hr and then two weeks off the bike so I wasn't really expecting a great deal but I'd heard good things about the course, plenty of climbing which should suit me. Added to this Lee had a cold so I was secretly hoping that I might be able to dish out some punishment his way for a change.
First thing that strock us when we got to the HQ was that the event seemed really laid back and chilled out. Old school signing on area, people already chilling out on the grass outside signing on and a real mix of people from skinny racers to trail riders on big full suss bikes.
We set about getting ready, pulled out our two Moda Canons and turned a few heads with both rocking the team hoodies with the same bikes... we looked factory! Few guys came over chatting about the course all saying the same thing, "those tyres look a bit lightweight, watch the slate". I'd heard that the slate was a problem and riders in previous years had slashed side walls. Our plan was simple, 40psi and take it steady
The race kicked off at 11am with a couple of outriders leading the 750 riders through the town and up on the hills. It was supposed to be neutralized but they soon started to string the pack out over the miles before we hit the real trails. We both sat just inside the top 50 riders, watching the ultra keen guys pushing to positions before we hit the first section. They really needn't of bothered because as soon as we hit the off-road the course went straight up. I'd heard that there was a big climb to start with but I didn't expect that over the next 3hrs that is all I'd be doing.
I let the leading riders disappear up the climb and settled in to a good rhythm. The climb went up and up, round a few hairpin bends and kept going up. Lee had got a small gap on me and took great pleasure is shouting at me as he went round a hairpin and looked down on me. I hit the top, passed the cheerleaders and planned to catch Lee on the flat. The flat section was short lived and we entered the first downhill section. As everybody said it was all slate, loose and pointy but I rode steady, no stupid moves and got down fine. Ok so now the flat... no more climbing.
It continued like this for the entire race, I've never ridden a course with so much climbing. I kept Lee in my sights up and down the climbs hoping that we would hit a flat section where I could / maybe catch him. The gap held at around 30 or 40 seconds and without putting in a big effort I just couldn't catch him. On one of the climbs I passed John Buchan repairing a flat tyre, I felt a bit gutted for him because he'd obviously been riding well before that point but it gave me an idea that if he catches me back up I could use him to tow me up to Lee. I pushed on up the climbs waiting for John to catch me. Now again the organisers had arranged for various people placed around the course with stands / bar / music. As I rode off a descent and started to climb again I could hear Star Wars music. I went round a corner to find 5 - 10 people dressed in full star wars gear play fighting to the music…..wicked! That put a smile on my face and lifted the spirits a touch. Unfortunatly that was short lived as the following section I can only describe as the bog of doom!
For about 0.5 mile we had to ride through massive puddles of dirty sandy water. Some had an easy route through, others stopped you dead! One in particular looked safe and then suddenly the water was up to the top of the forks and I was off wading through. I got to the end of the section, soaking wet and freezing cold. Ok must get warm! Hit the next climb and warm back up... No we hit the "world cup" descent, an ultra steep drop to the bottom of the valley which to be honest I came down like a right baby.
It's a bit strange being out riding one big lap without knowing how far in you are or how far you've got to the finish. I was trying to eat and drink, look after myself but I kept on feeling stuffed which stopped me from eating. I carried on and got myself into a good group of riders to help tow me along. I wouldn't say the I felt fresh but I didn't feel too bad just a touch thirsty. We crested a hill and came across the feed station, I took on some much needed water and headed off in the group. All of a sudden John came passed and caught a bit by surprise. He was clearly going quicker than me but I thought if I could just stay close. We dropped down a couple of descents and the gap came down, rode a couple of climbs and the gap stayed the same. Then we hit a real turning point for me. It was a steep single-track climb and it nearly killed me. It was that moment that I knew I'd given that little bit too much. From that point on I really struggled. 5km felt like 10km, riders passed me like I was standing still and there was nothing I could do.
Eventually I made it to the 1km to go mark and hit the final decent. Crossed line to see Lee and John looking fresh, they'd obviously been finished for a while. Steady ride back to HQ and it was all over... knackered. We caught up with a few other guys before we left, respect to everybody that finished. It was a real hard course and anybody who got round did really well. As for us guys, John finished just in front of Lee in 28th. Lee 29th and me in 48th. I was quite please with that, nether myself or Lee had any problems with the bikes, both worked perfect!
Overall I really enjoyed the event and will be returning... only next time I'll bring the climbing legs along.
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