Have you ever fancied racing an Enduro race? Ever wondered what to expect? Then watch the video above and read on…
Tracy Evans took her first step into the world of Enduro racing back in February of this year and here is the third of 5 blogs about her experiences at the Welsh Gravity Enduro Mash Up Series:
Round 3: Cwmcarn
Well its race day again, round 3 of the Welsh Gravity Enduro Series at Cwmcarn and I’m excited and a bit nervous (lots if I’m honest). Today is going to be a real challenge for me, most of the stages have lots of tight turns and although I’ve been mountain biking for years I’ve only recently mastered the art of turning right! Yes this might sound mad – but I’m hoping there are people out there who can relate to this!
Tracy on Stage 1 (The Secret Stage) Riding for Bike Doctor
I start the day well by going the wrong way after the first climb (even though there was a huge arrow pointing the right way), luckily I realise my mistake and get back on track with only a 10 minute diversion… Unfortunately Keith and Russell are stood by the arrow on my return so I have to admit my silly mistake – oh the shame!!
Stage 1 (the secret stage), is Voodoo in reverse. We only found this out the night before and I’m secretly relieved, as I believe if you can ride up a trail you should be able to ride down it. Gee how wrong was I… It’s a super tight, twisty section that required a fair bit of pedalling. Although I’m trying to get some flow I end up bouncing off the sides of the trail like a pinball going for a high score. My second attempt proves a little bit faster but I have the control of a jelly and I decide to save my energy and move on to stage 2.
Stage 2 (Dragon Run into Pedalhounds) is a long technical stage. The first bit weaves in and out between the trees before moving on to the first bit of the downhill run. I’m really looking forward to this stage, apart from the first root feature on Pedalhounds as I haven’t quite mastered it. On my run I glide through the trees narrowly missing each one – it feels great. I go left on the scary root feature on Pedalhounds and clear it with no problems, awesome! I get the next bit wrong in my excitement and take the wrong line, but I manage to keep most of my speed and fly around the three (initially scary – but now totally brilliant) berms. I do this run again and challenge myself to ride down the middle of the root feature. In hindsight I’m not sure why I chose to do this on race day. I get it way wrong, catch my handlebar on the tree and before I know it I’m face planting down the drop like a sack of spuds dropped from a great height – it’s not pretty and it’s not skilful, but luckily there are no photographers around so I jump up quickly and get back on the bike. It’s at this point I realise how good the full face helmet is. The crash also gets my adrenaline going as I fly down the rest of the trail knocking nearly a minute of my best time. I’m still not sure how to do the jump half way down as I keep landing on my front wheel, but I try my best and smile for the photographer.
Stage 3 (Powderhouse) is a twisty stage with roots, a few rocks and some tight berms, which requires you to pedal a fair bit. I do this stage twice, once before and once after my crash. I’m struggling to get any flow and I feel like I’m hitting every feature instead of flying over them in my new superhero style I’ve become accustomed too. I do manage to jump and land a few drops which give me a high and I cream the right hand turn that took me 8 attempts the week before – go me!!! The photographers dog barks at me, which causes me to look, the bike to turn and me to nearly leave the trail. Luckily I get it back on track and realise that, yes, looking where you want to go does actually help you go that way. I love this stage so much I don’t even notice the drop on the side that freaked me out for weeks before.
Stage 4 (K-Jam) is a short fun stage with a few jumps and funny turns. I have a rest before this one, eat a pile of jelly sweets and then hit it as hard as I can. To be honest, I’m all over the shop going down the trail – I’m either in the air heading off the trail, landing on the wrong side of the trail or having a near miss with the trees and tree stumps. I try this section 3 times as I know if I nearly crash in the middle I should have a fast time. I also know there is a photographer half way down, and yes, I’m still aiming for an awesome photo of me in my Bike doctor kit. The potential crash doesn’t happen but I’ve had fun trying. I do clip my pedal on a rock each time, hitting my foot out of the pedal and giving me a slight heart flutter – at least I’m consistent!
Today I felt more like the hulk than superwoman, but although I felt slow and out of control, it turns out I’ve had my fastest times on each section, knocking over a minute off on some bits. I guess my lack of flow and control was because I was riding to my limit – and loving it.
It was great to stand on the podium with fellow Bike Doctor Rider Amy Thomas, who, coming back to racing after a crash a few weeks ago, came second with only 2 seconds off first place. What an awesome result for Amy. I was just over a minute behind first place, which I was really pleased with, as I was expecting to be about 3 minutes slower. It shows I’m slowly getting faster and more confident.
3rd place behind Bike Doctor Team Mate Amy Thomas
I’ve achieved my aim in entering these events as I’m now riding the scary stuff (and trying to ride it faster) and I’m really enjoying it. Who knows, by the end I might have perfected my right turns and got an amazing photo!
Entry for all 3 rounds is HERE
See you at the races,