Race Report: Valleys Enduro Round 2, Walters Arena, Wales UK

Mar 14, 2023 at 1:41
by Nick Bentley  


Wales' newest enduro series continued this weekend, with round 2 taking place at Walter Arena in South Wales. Among the wind turbines and off-road driving tracks lay four tricky enduro stages for the 250 riders to enjoy. Now Wales being Wales, the weather played it's part too. With the area receiving heavy snow in the week, at times, the race was in doubt, but thanks to some good fortune and a good dose of Wales' finest rain they saw off the snow but left behind plenty of mud in its wake. This made riding a little complicated, however, with the stages being heavy going in places which made it tough for the riders to find their flow, with Stages 1 and 2 being particularly tough. The constant rain throughout the day meant the mud just kept on coming, with even the best running stage Bob Moss (stage 4), becoming claggy by the end of the day. But that's racing in Wales in March. That being said, however, the team at Western Bike events put on a great event despite all the crazy weather thrown at them. Across the four stages, there was a mix of what would have been some fast-flowing single track and some challenging technical steep sections. Added to the mix were some fire road sprints thrown in for good measure with Stage 2's fire road being the longest of all. The transitions were a little harsh, but this enduro right?

The Valleys Enduro Series is a mash-up format, allowing riders to tackle stages in any order they like, but it also means the first race run are done blind with no practice in the morning. With 5 hours of race time, it meant you could put plenty of laps in if your legs were up to the transitions or you could take your time and go for quality over quantity. This format is a rider favourite as it allows you to iron out any kinks in your times down the stages throughout the day. It also produces a fun relaxed atmosphere enabling all to enjoy their racing whatever their pace.

In order to minimise the use of plastic cable-ties number boards at Valley Enduro races are held on with string
In order to minimise the use of plastic cable-ties, number boards at Valley Enduro races are held on with string

Is it nearly spring yet It s an impressive landscape here at Walter s Arena well I promise it is somewhere behind that cloud
Is it nearly spring yet? It's an impressive landscape here at Walter's Arena, well I promise it is somewhere behind that cloud

Enduro bikes in their natural habitat
Enduro bikes in their natural habitat

With no practice allowed the riders headed out on foot before the stages opened although many wished they hadn t
With no practice allowed, the riders headed out on foot before the stages opened, although many wished they hadn't

This is the chute that greeted the riders less than 30m into the first Stage. It s not for the faint-hearted. It was rutted wet and lacking any form of grip. Just how the riders managed to make it to the right-hander at the bottom I m not quite sure
This is the chute that greeted the riders less than 30m into the first Stage. It's not for the faint-hearted. It was rutted, wet and lacking any form of grip. Just how the riders managed to make it to the right-hander at the bottom I'm not quite sure

The first chute straight out the gate on Stage 1 ended in this right-hander where you just had to trust that the berm was going to catch you
The first chute straight out the gate on Stage 1 ended in this right-hander, where you just had to trust that the berm was going to catch you

Riding through the mist on Stage 1 really helped hide just how slick the conditions were
Riding through the mist on Stage 1 really helped hide just how slick the conditions were

Emily Ashwood took home the elite female win this weekend
Emily Ashwood took home the elite female win this weekend

Despite the weather Wales never fails. It s almost as stunning to look at as it is to ride
Despite the weather, Wales never fails. It's almost as stunning to look at as it is to ride

Elliot Roberts charging hard to his fourth-place finish in the elite field
Elliot Roberts charging hard to his fourth-place finish in the elite field

James Stockhausen s Starling Cycles Murmur was one of the most beautiful bikes out racing this weekend
James Stockhausen's Starling Cycles Murmur was one of the most beautiful bikes out racing this weekend

The chute coming out onto the fire road on Stage 1 wasn t for the faint-hearted. There s no grip which meant there was not much point in braking just point and shoot
The chute coming out onto the fire road on Stage 1 wasn't for the faint-hearted. There's no grip which meant there was not much point in braking, just point and shoot

Nathaniel Fuller out giving it his all in his first ever race
Nathaniel Fuller out giving it his all in his first ever race

Amy Hume mistimed her pump through this section which unfortunately had the total opposite effect to what she wanted with her almost coming to a complete stand still on the knuckle
Amy Hume mistimed her pump through this section which unfortunately had the total opposite effect to what she wanted, with her almost coming to a complete stand still on the knuckle

Stage 2 did offer however an opportunity to let off the brakes and pin it down it s long chute
Stage 2 did offer however an opportunity to let off the brakes and pin it down it's long chute

In some places there was just no grip
In some places there was just no grip

Today was the kind of day where goggles kind of became useless
Today was the kind of day where goggles kind of became useless

Another good weekend for PinnedTVs Todd Buchanan finishing in third in a packed junior field backing up his first win in the round before
Another good weekend for PinnedTVs Todd Buchanan finishing in third in a packed junior field, backing up his first win in the round before

This is the face of a man listening to a marshall break it to him that there was a long fire road sprint mid-way down Stage 2
This is the face of a man listening to a marshall break it to him that there was a long fire road sprint mid-way down Stage 2

The berms at the top of Stage 2 were a lot of fun
The berms at the top of Stage 2 were a lot of fun!

Prep hop to nose bonk. Why not
Prep hop to nose bonk. Why not?

The trails here at Walter s Arena featured plenty of undulation almost like a moto whoop section. However with the mud filling the bottom of these they really sapped the riders speed
The trails here at Walter's Arena featured plenty of undulation, almost like a moto whoop section. However, with the mud filling the bottom of these, they really sapped the riders speed

Half in and half out of a rut was not the best of plans
Half in and half out of a rut was not the best of plans

Robert Williams made an on-the-day entry hence the hand-written board. It proved to be a good last-minute decision with the Haibike rider finishing second in the Elite E-bike field
Robert Williams made an on-the-day entry, hence the hand-written board. It proved to be a good last-minute decision with the Haibike rider finishing second in the Elite E-bike field

Even the fire road had some features the benefits of using an off-road driving track means that even the fire road was interesting
Even the fire road had some features, the benefits of using an off-road driving track means that even the fire road was interesting

It was a lonely sprint along the fire road midway through Stage 2
It was a lonely sprint along the fire road midway through Stage 2

Wet mud hidden roots - what s not to love
Wet mud, hidden roots - what's not to love?

Noah Killeen seemed to enjoy the mud and the steep tech taking home first place in the Under 16s field by 26 seconds
Noah Killeen seemed to enjoy the mud and the steep tech taking home first place in the Under 16s field by 26 seconds

Stage 2 finished at the lowest point leaving the riders a long transition up to 3. But before that hard slog it was one hell of a steep technical finish
Stage 2 finished at the lowest point, leaving the riders a long transition up to 3. But before that hard slog, it was one hell of a steep, technical finish

Stage 3 had PinnedTVs Jim Buchanan all steamed up
Stage 3 had PinnedTVs Jim Buchanan all steamed up

The upside of the soft wet conditions meant some pretty big ruts which allowed in some cases you to just lean in and rail your way through the corner
The upside of the soft, wet conditions meant some pretty big ruts, which allowed, in some cases, you to just lean in and rail your way through the corner

Big front wheel drifts were the order of the day for many riders
Big front wheel drifts were the order of the day for many riders

Despite the bad weather what s not to love about weaving your way through some stunning Welsh woodland
Despite the bad weather, what's not to love about weaving your way through some stunning Welsh woodland

Not all heroes wear capes. When this young rider had an issue on Stage 3 the marshall came to his rescue. The conditions made it really tough but especially for the really young riders
Not all heroes wear capes. When this young rider had an issue on Stage 3 the marshall came to his rescue. The conditions made it really tough, but especially for the really young riders

This looked like a rather innocuous section of Stage 3 but the rock at the top that the riders had to drop off of became slick and the deep gully meant if you got this wrong you ended up pin-balling your way down
This looked like a rather innocuous section of Stage 3, but the rock at the top that the riders had to drop off of became slick and the deep gully meant if you got this wrong you ended up pin-balling your way down

If all else fails feet out and shuffle through the section
If all else fails feet out and shuffle through the section

It almost looks like this rider managed to style this out . . . but I do assure you moments later he had a face full of mud
It almost looks like this rider managed to style this out . . . but I do assure you moments later he had a face full of mud

The moss and mud almost looks other worldy through the woods
The moss and mud almost looks other worldy through the woods

Stage 3 had some really steep sections towards the end
Stage 3 had some really steep sections towards the end

Beneath the mud lay plenty of roots waiting for a mistake
Beneath the mud lay plenty of roots waiting for a mistake

It was brave leaning it in in this mud
It was brave leaning it in in this mud

The hole that appeared before this rock gap really took the wind out of some riders. It was a section that really needed to be attacked with speed
The hole that appeared before this rock gap really took the wind out of some riders. It was a section that really needed to be attacked with speed

No goggles or glasses was brave in this weather
No goggles or glasses was brave in this weather

There always time for a quick send mid-stage
There' always time for a quick send mid-stage

The rain wasn t getting to Steven Holroyd. Hood up goggles on. Although I m almost certain it wasn t enough to keep the Welsh rain out
The rain wasn't getting to Steven Holroyd. Hood up, goggles on. Although, I'm almost certain it wasn't enough to keep the Welsh rain out

Myles Baldwin on the back wheel through the rough stuff on Stage 4
Myles Baldwin on the back wheel through the rough stuff on Stage 4

Stage 4 stood up to the rain better than most although by the end of the day it started to become tacky. But it did have some interesting gaps through the lower section
Stage 4 stood up to the rain better than most, although, by the end of the day, it started to become tacky. But it did have some interesting gaps through the lower section


If you want to find out more about the Valleys Enduro Race series or maybe even enter the next rounds your self head here.

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Member since Nov 28, 2019
245 articles

7 Comments
  • 7 0
 Nice summary. Participated on the day, and many sections were not for the faint hearted as these superb photos show. It was beyond my abilities, to be honest, and times were not great but a good benchmark to aim for. It's a new series with its teething troubles, and that the organiser has asked for, and is open to, improvement suggestions for future rounds is encouraging. Thanks for arranging.
  • 6 0
 Your welcome and thanks for your patience and support, we know we have a ways to go
  • 5 0
 Thanks to everyone who attended the event; we’re working hard to ensure we build a better experience. Time and the weather were against us but we’re proud of the whole event crew, our heroic marshals and participants for making it a great day
  • 3 0
 The shot captioned "It was brave leaning it in in this mud" is an absolute cracker!
  • 2 0
 Thanks to everyone who attended the event; we’re working hard to ensure we build a better experience. Time and the weather were against us but we’re proud of the whole event crew, our heroic marshals and participants for making it a great day
  • 2 0
 Thanks for taking these great pics and taking the time to write up the report. That was a tough day out for sure!
  • 2 0
 Great pics there and a nice write up.







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