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UKGE 2014 Rd3 Afan - Race Report
Hey All,

I thought I'd do a cheeky quick write up about Matt, Tim and myself's weekend at Round 3 of the UK Gravity Enduro at Afan last weeked.
We made our pilgrimage to South Wales via Swindon (to pick up Matt) after work on Friday. The thoought being that we could have a decent nights sleep in the Bridgend Travelodge and avoid a silly early start on the Saturday. After a nice shower and lots of food we made our way to Afan and was riding by 11am for a day's practice.

The arena was based at the trail center area with the 4x and bike park part. Checking out the stages it seemed that 1, 3, 4 and 5 were focused around here but stage 2 was the final descent of the blade trail, which meant a 10 mile journey to get to it. We decided to leave this for the practice day, happy knowing we had ridden it a month or so ago on a Sketchy jaunt.

We headed out and managed to have a very relaxed pedal sampling the local 4 stages. After this we chilled out and waited for a our allocated seeding place which was pretty late as seniors (18-30s) were the last group before the elites.



I would say we all had a fairly good run all making it down in one piece. I'll talk more about the stage later as seeding was run on the final stage of the day, 5. Tim came down with a flat front tyre which he pinched on the rock garden before the final grass straight. The results here placed us for tomorrow's racing with the fastest guys in the group going first. We were to head off at around 11am with a couple of minutes seperating matt, tim and myself.


Race Day

Something I've not mentioned already is the weather - It was bloody hot. High twenties and a lack of breeze which made the slow climbs hard work, especially when you were whacked in the face with a humid alpine waft of heat. There were rumours of more cloud cover on the sunday but this wasn't the case! Anyway... into racing....

Stage 1

After a short 15 minute gentle climb from the arena start ramp we were faced with our first stage. It had a trail centre start (name escapes me) which then took you through some fresh cut rooty loamy trails onto the Zig Zags descent. A lot of pedalling, calf burn and hurty hands were in order after the 1.8 mile blast. Top fun though and I even managed to catch up the guy before me who started 20 seconds earlier. When leaving the stage you were graced with numerous people repairing double punctures - it was a brutal stage. GAME ON!


Stage 2

All the way over to the Blade trail then... After a 10 mile and 400m climb transition we were there. I have to admit that the times were fairly relaxed - you could keep a gentle but consistent pace. As always, everyone was friendly and the humour was descent as you discussed the previous stage. Stage 2 was long and tough on the body and bike. Hopefully, most of you have had the pleasure of the final descent of blade? It feels very natural, there's a lot of rocks with drops and twists a plenty. BRILLIANT. More knackered hands and tired legs.


Stage 3

Having reversed the transition with another monstrous climb we were at the start of stage 3 which was dreaded by all as it had minimal falls. It started with a trail centre type trail and then cut through some awesome steep fresh loam onto the pedal fest that is Graveyard. It was a true test of being able to keep up a constant pace, grabbing a bit of saddle time and them trying to clamber over uphill rock gardens. Very tough!

Stage 4

It was time to fill up the water reserves and then head up to stage 4 which shared the same start as stage 1. The difference was that after the fresh cut loamy part it headed into fresh cut loam all the way to the bottom and it was STEEP (see previously posted video!). I think everyone was full of nerves after riding it in practice and not knowing how blown out it would be etc. Very few made it down with ot a dab or a bike reposition at best, with others finding their way over the bars. Ultimately though, it was the stage where everyone was super pumped after with all sharing their stories and wearing a huge great big grin - this is definitely what riding with your buddies is all about! Smile


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Stage 5

As noted previously, stage 5 was the seeding run stage - it was a very varied stage. Feelings were weird by this point, everyone was tired, hungry and thirsty but thrown in the mix was the nerves of it being the final stage and the elation of it nearly being all over after 25 miles and 1400m of climbing. The beeps went and all of that faded - I dug deep and pedalled hard up the first slope up which was trail centre stuff until a sharp corner flung you down a loamy rooty fresh cut link part which was hrad to keep smooth. This threw you out on to a long fire road element which was broken up with fresh cut rooty bus stops and a short uphill part into the woods before the 4x. Into the 4x and it was loose - you had to stay high but tbh an element of knackeredness had kicked in, line choices didn't happen and people were screaming and shouting as you head down through step ups, table tops and then a brilliant rock garden. And then you were there - the final sprint through the camp site dodging chicane hay bails, over the final jump and into the arena. Blowing out my arse. Pure joy.


I think I can speak for all of us in saying it was an immense weekend's riding.

We had all improved on our seeding placings too - which made us all pretty chuffed. Home we went, with the joyful thought of a desk tomorrow.....

Position / Name / Seeding / S1 / S2 / S3 / S4 / S5 / Overall / Difference

34 Ben PRINCE  4:01.75 (40) 7:00.53 (38 ) 5:21.51 (38 ) 6:32.10 (33) 4:16.73 (32) 3:59.61 (34) 31:12.23 +4:54.02
40 Matthew LEWIS (sen)  4:10.76 (48 ) 7:06.21 (42) 5:34.84 (42) 6:34.70 (37) 4:28.26 (40) 4:09.52 (45) 32:04.29 +5:46.08
52 Timothy FOX  4:23.17 (56) 7:37.26 (53) 6:14.29 (55) 7:10.64 (48 ) 5:28.49 (52) 4:23.58 (51) 35:17.43 +8:59.22

See below for a link to the Strava recording!

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Sounds Amazing, id love to do one of these at somepoint. Great write up as well  Smile
Ta dude - apologies for any bad grammar - it was written in a rush and I avoided spell check! Tongue

Video coverage of the event (no appearances from us though!):

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Sounds good, bit different to last year. Our long transition wasn't as long but then two of the others, christ, had to walk one for about 15 mins plus some bits were so ridiculously boggy with cut up mud (was that period when 98% of Wales was under deep snow but luckily the snow line was about 10 miles north of Afan!)

I have done a lot XC racing, 1-2hr stuff but I can confirm that at the end of every 5-8 minute stage last year I wanted to puke much like at the end of an XC race lol.

Watched that blokes overhead heli cam vid, our qualifying/final stage also ended on the 4x but we followed it right to the end, I see you veered off, some massive bale/bag things there! I recall going quicker on my final stage than I did in the qualifying run, not sure how as was dead by then!

Must purchase a working body and do it again next year. Much prefer the weekend event with some practise than a single day blind one.
Great pics.  Great write up.  Sounds exhilerating & exhausting all at once.  Close times there too.  Congratulations on what sounds like a tip top weekend dudes ;D
Great write up Ben. Had an immense weekend and the weather topped it all off. Was really pleased with my time being my first enduro, in fact my first ever bike race!! Will definitely be looking to do more of this although might need to see the Jedi first to try and get me a bit faster!
Thanks for the write up Ben, nice job.
Good going chaps, that really was a hot weekend in Wales. Liking your photos, Ben  and Timmy were looking full enduro, matts almost got it down but must try harder  Wink (glasses in this day and age :Smile)
Think there going to be a fair few sketchy riders wanting to join these for next year series.
Yep excellent write up Ben.
&quot;Skid&quot; Wrote:Thanks for the write up Ben, nice job.
Good going chaps, that really was a hot weekend in Wales. Liking your photos, Ben  and Timmy were looking full enduro, matts almost got it down but must try harder  Wink (glasses in this day and age :Smile)
Think there going to be a fair few sketchy riders wanting to join these for next year series.

the chap that won it was wearing glasses  Wink
&quot;matt07&quot; Wrote:the chap that won it was wearing glasses  Wink

I eat my hat :B next thing their be in Lycra.  

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