What’s this all about then?
The name of this is confusing, the word ‘Enduro’ in modern day speak is for those races where you have timed downhill stages with transitions climbs and it’s the fastest down who wins. This is not that! The Dyfi Enduro began before that was even heard about. This is a classic mountain bike endurance event, a big old loop exploring some of Wales beautiful countryside in Dyfi forest, home to the Athertons, none the less! That’s all I knew as I’ve not been to any of there events before. I saw 55km and someone mention that I might like it, so I booked on a while back, not reading too much into it!
Set in the heart of Machynlleth, seemed like a mini Hollywood with this sign! There was a real bustle about the town with loads of mountain bikers and more. Not realising that there was also a comedy festival going on aswell, bit random, but seemed to be going down well. Having just rocked up on the day I think I missed much of the shenanigans, not sure it was a quiet night! The vibe was very chilled, almost a bit hippy-esk in it’s style, with one main big top with ambient lighting to set the mood and that was about it. (it was really dark in there!). I’m glad I bumped into a few people I knew otherwise I was just guessing on what was going on. Tracked down where to sign on, number board and no expense spared string to tie it on with and that was its time for a brew. All very laid back, maybe a bit too much, but it seems to have worked for a number of years, so don’t fix what’s not broke and it’s’ clearly thriving with 1,000 plus riders!
It’s nearly lunchtime
I’m used to a late start, but 11am is ridiculous, it’s almost lunchtime and my porridge for breakfast was probably all burnt off by now. I think it was so those on the booze the night before had a bit more recovery time! Anyway 11 it was and after mooching about, deliberating on clothing choices as it appeared to warm up slightly, apparently it was a shock that it was dry! At about 10:30 I decided to head to the start, discovering that many had already thought of this and so I was a fair way back in the queue already, but I wasn’t too fussed, it generally works itself out on the first climb.
There was a mumble of words spoken from somewhere, but even when trying to listen I couldn’t work out what was being said, but hey I’d just go with the flow on this one, it would be fine! After a number of terrible and quite strange songs (that seemed to be a thing here) we were starting to go, no bang or hooter just a slow roll out of the gates. It took just under 2 minutes to get off the start, so not a fast start here. The crowds along the road were impressive, felt like a part of the Tour de Yorkshire or something, really cool how much of a profile this event has.
It’s NOT a race
In everybody’s mind, if there is more than one person and it’s timed…it’s a race! This may be why those who want to get ahead went to the start, but quickly realised they are not that fast at climbing and just annoyed a number of people when they either slowed or put a foot down. It’s the same at a lot of these events, but nobody learns! Ah well, it gives some of the guys something to whinge about as they pass or get stuck behind someone. It was a good old climb to start with, a few roads then continue up onto the forest tracks, which would be the theme for all the climbs, but I didn’t know that then, so was unsure at how quick to push the pace. In the end I just found my rhythm and went with it. There was a few quick chats, smiles as I passed riders and a couple of bikers giving me advice on what was to come and I should be careful, but I ignored them and rode on, just because they got passed by a girl!!! (yes I can ride a bike and yes I have done this kind of thing before!).
I wasn’t expecting that!
I have to admit I went into this event, not having a clue what I was getting myself into. This was apparent when I went down the first descent and answered my question of why so many put body armour on…I had arm warmers! Let’s hope I stay upright. It was a whole lot of things I was not used to… mainly because I’ve been on the turbo trainer moving nowhere fast! The first descent was ok, it was like a red at a trail centre with a few drops, but just loose rock (that I did not like). I wasn’t in DH mode just yet so tensed up and just got down that one. I am not a fan of feeling like I’m in someones way either so having riders right behind be clattering the rocks didn’t fill me with confidence. I got through it and it was back to climbing (my happy place!). I didn’t stop to take pictures, but I’m sure there will be some video’s on you tube to check out, like this one, which gives you a taster of the descents (the interesting parts to watch!).
It was like this for the duration with long winding forest climbs where you saw riders higher up and lower down as you snaked up to the top. The descents seem to get increasingly technical, faster, looser, sketchier over slate. which kept you on your toes. The noise from the slate as I not so gracefully picked a line (or something) was immense. It was relentless and I was just thinking of which rock is going to kick me off and leave me in a sorry state, but it never happened! The Epic with it’s newly installed dropper post (controversial, I know for an XC bike) but it just rolled over beautifully and took me with it. I wasn’t fast, but I didn’t fall, stop or chicken out as there was a couple of very steep sections that many stopped at and walked. I just went with the flow and made it through. I was thinking though that I may have had more fun on a bigger travel steed with chunkier tyres for those sections, but the amount of climbing I think anytime lost on the descents I made up on the climbs. I know I’m not amazing at descending (not bad but not the quickest), so best to play to my strengths.
After the feed station where I picked up a handful of jelly babies and topped up the water thinking I had another 20km to go we headed up a bit more, found a few deep puddles to splash through and then cruise down another rocky descent and further onto a forest road, to a sharp left hander onto a more natural section (I liked that bit!). Someone said it was 5km to the finish. I was baffled we had 15km to go, I thought somehow I’d jumped onto the shorter route, but where? I took all the right turns. I kept pedalling, but intrigued on what was going on. I felt good as I spun up the climb and then getting into the flow of the descents and getting to grips with getting over the slate, though I did seem to find myself in the narrow galleys a lot, but it was all good, I was doing my thing to get down and that was working for me. Very glad I had the brake pads replaced just before hand!
Over before I knew it
A spin round a lower forest track and a little ez-up holding chaps with beer were on the side. I stopped out of intrigue, got handed a beer, drank it and confirmed that I really don’t like beer, disgusting (I think they were a little disappointed!). They also said the timing mat was just up round the corner and that was it. Bemused I found this to be true and that was it. Nothing there just the mat and some guys wanting to ride back down to get more beer! There was no one to say where to go so I just hoped the arrows were still about. It was a bit of an anticlimax thinking I had another 15km with some more descents to tackle, but it was now a cruise along a mix of roads to get to the arena. I didn’t spot many arrows so was glad to catch up to some guys and cruise with them as they had done it before and seemed to know the way back.
Just like that it was done, I felt good, had more in the legs, but more than happy for it to finish when it did, finish on a high rather than push a bit more and break! In total it was 55km, but only 40km or less was actually off-road, but it’s not quantity, it’s quality and what we got was pretty cool and I’m sure was testing and challenging enough for most.
I appreciated getting a mug on the finish line and happy to just come back in one piece and before the rain showers started to draw in. Here are the RIDE TIMES and they have done from the gun (didn’t hear that) and then when you crossed the timing mat. All very official for not being a ‘race’! I got back in just over the 3 hour mark, 2nd lass back after Sophie who was 30 mins ahead of me (never saw her at all). Looking at her times (Strava stalker!) she’s just a bit of a biking beast, with quick uphill and downhill times, but it wasn’t a race! Here’s my Strava of the route as you can definitely do this ride in your own time and own pace.
It was a fun day out, but for me if I were to do it again would be to take the long weekend, explore a bit more of the area with a bunch of mates. It’s far more about the whole experience than the ride itself. There’ll be some interesting shots in here courtesy of Rob Barker Photography mainly of the ride I imagine rather than the antics pre and post ride! It’s all very chilled and the beer was flowing probably for the whole weekend. It’s just not my cup of tea (that’s what I would prefer at the end, not a beer!) I will be in the minority with that one I know. It was all good and nice to explore a new area and try a new event that is clearly very popular with many coming back year on year. I think I picked the right year too as everyone has said it’s nice to ride it in the dry. I’m not sure I would have been so happy if it was wet, those tracks for me on XC skinny tyres was hard enough! If you want to find out more about this event and the others in there series, check them out here: DYFI EVENTS. There’ll be more highlights from it on the social media stuff too…
Aberdyfi Search and Rescue (I hope they weren’t needed too much, but glad they were there!)