The Haibike Welsh Gravity Enduro Mash Up Series drew to a close last weekend, returning to Afan Bryn Bettws in South Wales. With sunny weather, 3 tough stages and 13 series titles at stake we were set for a thrilling showdown.
The finals are always a little bit tougher than the other rounds and this series was no exception... 3 stages, all of which have been used for National Gravity Enduro races, were chosen for the event with a good mix of natural, trail centre and some steep tech to push the riders out of their comfort zone.
It was very rewarding to see riders who were unable to ride some of the stages on Saturday step up their game and ride and then race the stages on Sunday. One of the women knocked 9 minutes off her time through the day! That's progression.
Stage 1 was Corker into Viper: This stage has a mild mannered trail centre beginning, where line choice was super important, then a short flat section into some nice big berms before jumping off the main trail into a rather slippy, rooty natural section to the finish.
Stage 2, in particular, (locally known as S4) was the trail most were wary of. First used for a UKGE back in 2012, this trail was subsequently adopted as an "Event Trail" by NRW and as such has matured into an amazingly consistent and established trail that has bought riders' skill levels up and up over the years.
Stage 3, 373 into the 4x (my own personal favourite "race stage"): This stage requires a lot of effort to get a good time on, but the satisfaction of effort to reward was apparent in many riders who found 3, 4, or 5 seconds just through pushing on.
Cai Grocott tackling the steeps of S2, riding for Bike Doctor he took the senior win and overall fastest time by 15 seconds!, Elite for Cai next year methinks
Lewis Bradley riding for Tredz/Giant Swansea bringing the Firetruck home to 2nd in seniors 15 seconds back from Cai
Richard Butters of Race Co Cycles piloting his E-Mtb into 6th place in the rapidly expanding E-bike category
As the 10 am bell rang, all 3 stages went live for 5 hours. The Mash Up format allows multiple runs in any order you like! This creates a relatively stress free environment to race in; get a puncture... no worries, fix it, complete your run, then go back to the top and have another go!!
As 3 pm ticked by, the stages were closed and we waited for the results... Maybe a first in racing, but the podium presentation was ready to commence before the riders!
Onto the results and podium photos:
Bird Cycleworks Elite Men: Rob Cooksley made it over for the day and took the elite win from Will Soffe who clinched the Elite series title with Rob in 2nd
Race co Cycle E-Bike: Brothers in arms Davi Roberts and Scott Roberts claimed 1st and 2nd respectively with Dorian Thorne claiming 3rd
Pedal A Bike Away Hardtail: Tom Dunn aboard his new Bird Hardtail took the win by 14 seconds and the title from Olli Hooper in 2nd (3rd in series) and Callum Gurney 6th (2nd in series)
Mudhugger Under 19 Women; Caja Parkes took the win on the day and in the series, where have all the Under 19 women gone?
Bird Cycleworks Senior Women; Maddy Brown clinched the overall and on the day win, Alicia Hockin in 2nd and Kelly Guy in 3rd
Hope Technology Master Women; Amy Murphy took the win on the day from Amy Thomas in 2nd, who also clinched the overall series title, Gemma Bond (absent) came in 3rd
Bird Cycleworks Veteran Women; Lindsay Hanley stormed to victory on the day and overall in the series, with Adel Tyson- Bloor in 2nd (only her 2nd race back from injury!), and Sarah King in 3rd
Bird Cycleworks Under 19 men: Ben Townsend took the series title by an amazingly tight 2.582 seconds from Daniel Mason-Rheinschmiedt, with William White in rounding out the podium in 3rd
Pro Green Mx Senior men: Cai Grocott has dominated this year and a recent move to 29er has only made him faster, taking the win and overall fastest time of the day by 15 seconds!! Our own Lewis Bradley finished in a very strong 2nd place, with Jonny Howe in 3rd
Pro Green Mx Master Men: Ben Evans took the overall series win from Charlie Ashman and Tomas Kupstys. Matthew De-Villanueva took the win on the day
Bird Cycle Works Tomas Kupstys on his way to 2nd in Masters Men
Bird Cycleworks Veteran Men: Chris Blackmore took 1st on the day and 2nd in the series, with Steve Liggins claiming 2nd on the day but taking home the series win, with Paul Mackie in 3rd
Wickens & Soderstrom Grand Veteran Men: Richard King took the overall series win from Johnny Ward and Chris Cooke in 2nd and 3rd, but John Cobb took the win on the day
John Cobb took the grand vets win by 5.22 seconds from Johnny Ward
Steve Tuffley took 72nd place and the Holiday to The Mountain Bike Chalet in Les Arcs
Well that's it! We started way back in the snow and ice at Afan in February, and ended in beautiful sunshine at Afan just as the British Summer Time came to an end!
All that's left to say are the thank yous...
All the marshals who have given up their time and stood in the snow, rain, wind, fog, and (of course) the sunshine. Without you, racing would stop as we know it.
Natural Resources Wales' Bob Campbell and Forestry Commission England's Georgina Sharp and Nicola Cowell for letting us run the races at these amazing venues.
Action Sports Timing's Chris Roberts and crew for their impeccable and 100% accurate timing
All our Sponsors: Haibike, Bird Cycleworks, The Mountain Bike Chalet, Hope Technology, Race Co Cycles, Wickens and Soderstrom, Pro Green Mx, Mudhugger, and Mojo Suspension
Charlie Sparkes, Lewis Bradley, Des Betts, Eastridge Trail Partnership, Cognation, Doc Ward, Luke Chard
And finally all you lovely riders for continuing to support the series !
Photos: Doc Ward Photography
Video: Luke Chard Media
Any feedback on the series (good or bad!!!) please email me at firstname.lastname@example.orgDates for 2018:
5 rounds series (all rounds count)
April 21st (WGES/Mini Enduro)
See you all in 2018!