Enduro Blog, Angie reporting on Afan right here, right now, let's do this....
Gravity-led Enduro is getting increasingly more popular in the UK and with the first round of the series boasting 25 women it’s definitely becoming very popular with the female of the species which I applaud. Afan was raced a couple of years ago however I didn't attend and as thus didn’t know quite what to expect but had heard it was going to be the more pedally of the rounds. Oh well that’s great, seeing as how I hadn’t put much fitness training time in, in the weeks leading up to it. The North East weather has been pretty crap of late with snow drifts, to say the least!
Friday’s plan is always to get a taste of some of the stages, which then gives you Saturday to practice any fiddly bits and familiarise ourselves a bit more. We smashed 4 out of the 5 stages. Stage 1 was the furthest away and apparently a no-brainer so we left that one. Stages 2, 3 and 5 were all fairly similar; trail centre hard pack with undulating climbs. Most definitely NOT my favourite cup of Earl Grey!! Stage 4 was definitely more milky with a splash of sugar…definitely my fave! It had been freshly cut in the woods but, because of the rain, had turned to a gloop fest, the mud was up past my hub in some places. Great stuff!
(Photo copyright of MnD Photography)
Friday night was great fun in the camper; Helen, Sarah, Steve and I played Gran Turismo on the play station with the heater on! Best bit of the weekend by far!! Haha – Oh and Sarah gave a boxer a nice upper cut! Respect!
Saturday morning the plan was to practice a few of the stages again. Because they were all very similar, it was hard to remember which features were on which stage. Just as we were setting off I noticed my bike was missing an important bolt out the linkage. I thought it was game over as it’s not just a standard bolt that you could get anywhere, it was a Trek special. Panic stations, absolute PANIC STATIONS!!! Anyhooo, it wasn't so bad…. T.Mo came to the rescue, she had been planning to race an XC National but because of the snow epidemic in the rest of the country she couldn’t make it and decided to race the Enduro instead, luckily, luckily, VERY luckily she brought with her a spare bike and let me borrow the bolt out of it. Hugely appreciative to her! Phew!
The qualifying run went OK with me but it really did feel like a 7 minute XC sprint. I couldn’t get my head around how I was meant to race it again after all the other stages tomorrow. Steve wasn’t a happy chappy either, he hadn’t given 100% and realised his tyre choice wasn’t the best. A lightning quick Formula One tyre change into some lighter, slicker numbers, pump up the volume, less grip, more roll! Get in!
(Photo copyright of JT Media UK)
Race day was much drier, no rain at all. Pretty lucky really but the temperature was right the way down and we all found it pretty hard to keep the little digits warm.
Stage 1 to Windy Point was like they’d said, way out west in the wind, taking about 50 mins to get there. My gears weren’t working at all, Mr Frosty had seen to that but Helen fixed them up for me! Cheers H.
Stage 2 was pedally with an infamous rocky technical climb. I got overtaken by The Dixanator here.
Stage 3 was not how neither Steve or I had remembered it. During practice it felt fun and flowy, racing it was slightly different; more like a gruelling, lung burning torturous spin fest. I struggled on this one with fitness and the Newmanator caught me up here, it would have cost us both time if I had pulled over so instead we had a mint time shredding rubber down the bottom of the stage!! Buzzing.
(Photo copyright of MnD Photography)
Stage 4, I knew I could claw back a little bit of time if I kept off the brakes and tried to just let momentum pull me through. I dabbed once in the mud custard and it ended up being my best stage time wise.
Stage 5 was the same as seeding finishing on the Bryn Bettws 4-Cross track. I went a few seconds slower on here but I was super glad it was over to be honest!
I waited on Steve as he had set off an hour later than me. The look on his face as he finished said it all, poor mite! Haha. I think our fitness was down and our bikes were a bit overkill, I seriously need to change my tyre choice. 2.35 super tacky High Rollers were not the tyre of choice that weekend. We still had a good time and it was great to be back on the bikes with our mates. Can’t wait to race Innerleithen in a few weeks.
Over and Out
Angie and Steve xxTweet