BIKE PARK WALES ENDURO RACE REPORT - Bike Doctor Enduro rider Tracy Evans
Well it’s race day again, round 2 of the Welsh Gravity Enduro at Bike Park Wales. I’m excited as I know I can ride all the features on the trails, but I’m also terrified!
I pull myself together and set off at 9.30 for some practice runs before the racing starts at 12.30. I climb up and practice both red runs. I’m feeling good so I decide to sit and wait at the top for the start. Unfortunately just after 12pm Charlie pins the times up and I find out I’m not racing until 2.55pm. Yep, I should have read the instructions… I ponder what to do, decide to go back down to warm up in the van, then only do half the blue only to worry I’ve ridden it when I shouldn’t have (and might be disqualified) so I climb back up to wait. There are plenty of people to chat to so waiting isn’t too bad – just cold!!!
Stage 1 (Vicious Valley) starts a little way down the trail. While we’re waiting to set off it’s blowing a gale through the trees and then it starts snowing. I’m absolutely freezing! I’ve got my waterproof in my bag but I don’t put it on because secretly I’m hoping to get a nice picture of me in my Bike doctor kit. I start the stage and I’m so nervous and excited I forget to pull my wheel up over the first root section, my bikes falls one way but I manage to jump off the other way before I hit the ground. Luckily the only think hurt is my pride and stage time. I jump back on and clear all the other sections (a bit slower than I would have liked), but it’s going well. It’s at this point I realise my suspension is still in climb mode – I didn’t think to check it while waiting around for hours, a lesson for next time me thinks. The rest of the stage goes smoothly and I even try to jump the two rock steps towards the end – Yep, I’m on a high by now.
I cycle back up ready for stage 2 (Wibbly Wobbly), which is one of my favourites as I find it quite challenging. I get a good start and I ride the rocky section way better than I’ve ever done before. I fly down the muddy drop through the fence, a feature I love even though it always gets my heart beating a bit faster! Then the bike feels weird and is making a funny noise, I think I’ve broken the rear shock, but when I check it’s a puncture. After a quick panic I decide to roll down gently to fix it at the bottom. I finish the stage a bit disappointed, but hey ho, it’s all good experience.
Knowing I’ve been taught how to fix a puncture by Keith Evans and Basher I’m feeling confident about the task in hand. After finally remembering to take the clutch thing off and work out how to do the skewer I finally get the back wheel off. Armed with 3 tyre levers and a tyre lever tool I’m ready to go. 5 minutes later, I’ve made no progress, the wheel seems stuck firmly to the rim. I scan the crowd of people waiting to do the next run, looking for anyone wearing a Bike Doctor Jersey, but I’m out of luck, but then like a star shining bright on a murky night I see Gareth Horsnell and I do what any Bike Doctor lady would do, I wave my wheel and tools in the air shouting “Gareth, please help”. Looking back - I’m not very proud of my typical girly action, but it worked a treat. Gareth managed to remove the tyre from the wheel, he also removed the tube, put a new tube in and put the tyre back on, so all I had to do was pump it up – a true hero! At this point I was worried stage 3 would close before I got there so I cycled back up the hill as fast as I could, eating energy sweets to keep me going.
Stage 3 (Sixtapod) was one of my favourites and I flew across the starting mat and pedalled like mad to go fast down the trail. At one point I saw a sign saying jump. Having done this section lots of times I knew there wasn’t a jump there so didn’t bother slowing down. As I left the trail flying high into the air I realised I was wrong, I must have always ridden it slower before. Although it was only a few seconds I felt like I was flying through the air for ages. To be honest, I felt like Elliot carrying ET in front of the moon!! Not knowing how to land properly and panicking slightly, I decided to grip the handlebars really tight and hope for the best. It worked, I landed safely and flew down the rest of the trail – with the fastest time for the run!
Stage 4 (Willy Waver) was another fun stage. I was a bit tired at the start so decided to eat all my energy sweets in one go to power me along, which seemed to work. I was flying over bits I’d ridden across before, loving every minute of being in the air. Then I saw a photographer and like a mad woman started trying to jump my bike in the air to get a good picture. I couldn’t see any flashes so I started looking at the guy, still jumping the bike like a rabbit that’s eaten too many carrots. The next thing I know I’m off the trail heading straight for him. Luckily I manage to steer quickly and get back on the trail before I crash into the poor guy – and I don’t think he took my picture! I finished the stage in one piece (again having the fastest run time, which was awesome).
While waiting in the café for the results its’ obvious I’ve eaten way to many high energy caffeine sweets – I’m bouncing off the walls on a major sugar rush, I can’t sit still and I’m talking nonstop babble. I apologies to anyone who had to put up with me at this stage!!
Amazingly I was lucky enough to come 2nd in the ladies masters, and only 6 seconds behind first place – this was such a good feeling and I felt awesome! For me this was a huge achievement, as about 10 years ago I was the girl slowly squeaking down the trail on my hard tail with the brakes on full, nearly falling off as I hit every little pebble – wondering how people could ride down the trail so fast!
Today showed me that it’s good to give things a go!