May 25, 2016
race report - Tracy Evans
Well it’s round 5 of the Welsh Gravity Enduro Series at Eastridge, somewhere in Shropshire – and I’m absolutely terrified! This time it’s not because everyone looks hardcore… it’s because we came here for the first time yesterday to practise and I know now how hard, steep and technical the stages are (which with the current conditions are well beyond my skill level and bravery). If I’m totally honest I wanted to go home on Saturday night and take up knitting, but after a bit of light refreshment I decided to be brave, do each stage once and complete the series.
Stage 1 (Big Log) starts off nice with just roots, rocks and mud. I enjoy the first bit and ride it much better than yesterday. Then it starts getting steeper and more technical. I ride bits I couldn’t ride yesterday but then I hear the first shout of ‘Rider behind’. I jump off to let them go past, and jump back on. I have to run down some of the steep scary stuff (enough said) and after jumping on and off for all the faster riders to pass I get to the stage where by the time I manage to clip back in with all the mud I’m having to get off again to let someone go past. At one point I decide it’s quicker to run down part of the stage as I’m faster. I eventually see the finish mat and I’m a happy person.
Stage 2 (93DH) was my favourite stage because I could actually ride nearly all of it. It was a mix of roots, rocks, mud and a few interesting drops. I’m more committed than yesterday and ride everything far better. I do have to jump off a few times to let the good guys past – but again this was expected, but I was smiling and having fun. I was still happy to see the finish as it meant I’d made it successfully down 2 stages with only one to go.
Stage 3 (BUSA) was a real pleasure – NOT! The first bit was actually fun with lots of roots, rocks and mud, and again I rode it with more commitment than yesterday and as a result was a bit faster and more skilful. There were a couple of drops, and some hard tight turns. There was a flat middle bit, and then the trail got progressively steeper. It then just pointed down the hill and with no trees you could look all the way down to the finish. In totally honesty I ran, slipped and bumped my way down most of this, only riding a few bits. I stopped lots to let riders past and to watch them ride and crash with a skill I aim to achieve. As I get close to the finish, relieved that it’s nearly all over, I give the thumbs up to Charlie the organiser and then lose control in the mud and hit the deck. At least I finish the series the same way I started, happy, covered in mud and crashing. All 3 stages were longer than I’ve described, but I can’t give any more information on them because I’ve blocked all the scary bits out (which was most of it) unfortunately.
I only rode each stage once, and happily handed my timing chip in while still in one piece. I came 8th (last) in my class, which I was expecting, but I did actually enjoy it in a weird way, because I rode some bits I hadn’t managed to the day before and I actually turned up after knowing how tough and technical it was, especially with the conditions on the day.
I did manage to win the overall series for my class, which was brilliant as it was my first go at the Welsh Gravity Enduro events and it meant I actually did ok in the previous 4 rounds. Although I do think I managed this more by luck than skill. I have improved my riding and confidence in my ability which was my main goal – so all in all it’s been a huge success and I’m looking forward to the winter series (apart from the Eastridge one).
It’s now I need to mention the true skilful and awesome rider of the day, Amy Thomas. Amy turned up to Eastridge for the first time on race day and absolutely nailed it. After a few runs she improved her times on each stage to take 1st place. With the wet and muddy conditions making the technically challenging course even tougher, just doing the stages again was a challenge, let alone making up more than a minute on some of them. If I can get my skill level to be half as good as Amy’s by next year I’ll be well happy. Unfortunately Amy missed a few of the series rounds due to biking injuries and illness. If she’d ridden all five I’d be writing today about Amy taking the top step and me hopefully achieving one of the lower steps. She’s an incredible rider with a skill level I aspire to achieve – well done Amy, the top step is waiting for you for the winter series. Go nail it ;-)
To summarise the Welsh gravity Enduro Series, it’s been a fun (if not a tad scary) five events. I’ve managed to improve my riding ability, skill level and confidence. I’ve ridden things that have scared me silly and provided weeks of sleepless nights before the actual event. I’ve met and made some great riding buddies and I’ve had fun, fab days riding with the guys and girls from the club. It’s been great to see so many Bike Doctor riders at the events and it would be great to see even more at the next series – so come on peeps, give it a go, you’ll be surprised by how much fun you’ll have.
OVERALL SERIES RESULTS
Under 18 men - 11th Ashley LEWIS Bike Doctor
30-39 men - 2nd Ben ROBERTS Bike Doctor
0-39 men - 2nd Ben ROBERTS Bike Doctor
0-39 men - 7th Ryan ROWLAND Bike Doctor
0-39 men - 37 Gareth SUCHECKI Bike Doctor
0-39 men - 64th Jamie ROWLAND Bike Doctor
0-39 men - 92nd Kristofer HAMER Bike Doctor
40-49 men - 19th Jonathan THORNGATE Bike Doctor
30+ women - 1st Tracy EVANS Bike Doctor
30+ women - 9 Amy THOMAS Bike Doctor