The first race of any series is always a bit daunting, I guess its fear of the unknown and maybe doubt in your mind as to whether you have trained enough over the winter. Flip reverse, it’s great to meet all your friends and hang out riding bikes and racing all weekend.
Gravity Enduro is a fairly new sport when it comes to Mountain Biking, if you mix Downhill with Cross country you might get somewhere kind of close. It’s basically 5 timed stages within a given route. In this case you generally pedal up and race down.
Steve and I travelled down Thursday night when the rest of the UK were having a big dose of the white stuff causing mayhem all over the roads, however South Wales chose upon 3 days of heavy rain instead with Sunday (Race Day) remaining dry but with bitterly cold temperatures.
Friday morning we set about practicing the stages, most of which were heavily trail centre inspired, so hard packed where the wet weather made no real difference. Stage 4 was different to the rest, it had been freshly cut into the woods and so just acted like a sponge absorbing all the wet and turning it into a big soggy custard trail.
After a good night’s sleep in the newly converted van, Steve and I were up to get some more practice in before qualification in the afternoon, slight problem when I realised that I was missing one of the most important bolts out of my frame. I thought it was game over until lucky for me Tracey Moseley changed her plans and had a spare bolt I could lend. Massive Thanks Tracey!
Qualifying run was on stage 5, during practice it didn’t feel that tiring but putting a full run together and combining uphill sprints in the middle of it was just tough. I took a 7th Place with 6mins1sec and Tracey Moseley taking 1st. Steve didn’t feel like he had given it enough oomph and placed 27th in the master’s category.
Sunday was Race Day, women went off at 9am, pedalling a 19mile over approx. 3 hours combining the 5 timed stages. Temperatures were hovering around the freezing mark and although thank god it wasn’t raining, I found myself fighting strong winds the whole way round. I opted for my Vapour Storm shell, the only thing that would keep the wind off but breathe enough up the hills! Stage 1 onto Windy Hill was an effort but similar to that of stage 2 and 3, there seemed to be way more uphill in this round than last years, either that or I hadn’t trained enough.
My lungs were put to the test and I found it pretty damn hard work! Fatigue was kicking in and so I chucked some gels down my neck whilst trying to stay hydrated. Stage 4 was more my cup of tea, more gravity inspired with roots and deep mud, turns out it was one of my better runs, probably because there was less pedalling. As I was pedalling up to Stage 5 I knew it would all be over soon. I waited for Steve to come through the finish and the look on his face was similar to mine, glad it was over and knackered!
Overall Steve placed 22nd out of 123 Masters and I placed 7th in the Elite women category. More training needed for the next round we think at Innerleithen in the Scottish borders on the 27th/28th April.