Lewis Bradley brings you the video of his hi's and lows from the weekend.
The Enduro World Series is the pinnacle of the Enduro racing world and every year thousands of eager riders join the lottery to get a place on the EWS circuit. With the lottery system, it is an errr… lottery!?
For 2017 there are 42 EWS Qualifier races taking place all over the world. Three of which are in the UK, the second of which just happened in the ethereal Dyfi forest in North Wales.
Based out of the town of Machynlleth this race was also the first ever Welsh Open. Organised by Welsh Gravity Enduro® and sponsored by Bird Cycle Works whilst also encompassing the Welsh Champs 2017.
The weather gods shined on us, with four days of sunshine leading up to the race, then some light rain Friday night and Saturday morning. Those wishing to practice early Saturday found it somewhat slippy. But as forecast… the rain stopped bang on 13:00 and the sun came out for the remainder of the weekend.
The Welsh Open consisted of five stages, all very different in their character. Stage 1: freshly built for the race a couple of months ago and completely unridden prior to the event due to being private land (bar myself and the dig crew), started on the top of a gorse laden hill where going off line was not an option, a couple of punchy climbs and some field turns, before dropping into a bluebell strewn fairy woodland where during the weekend virgin grass would give way to modelling clay berms, a couple of steep corners and one straight chute and you were at the finish in just shy of three minutes, this was flow in its physical state. From here it was a long transition out to the forest stages above Ceinws...
Stage 2 was reached after a picturesque 70min transition. Many said the transition times were too tight but they were set at a pace similar to that required for a full-blown EWS race, penalties were abolished for the race to give riders an idea of what would be required of them if they fancy giving an EWS a go. EWS Qualifiers are a stepping stone to the full blown world series.
A short 25-minute transition up to Stage 3 brought the riders to "Dickos" the darkest of the five stages with sniper roots everywhere! You needed bravery and patience to do well here.
A misleadingly easy start welcomed the riders before they headed into the flat out slate of "The Dyfi" and dark sniper root infested woods of "Dickos".
Another transition of some 45-minutes brought the riders to Stage 4, "Climachx". This is one of my all time favourite trail centre (?) trails, pedally but infinitely rewarding as you commit to blind drops, turns and numerous rock features, for just under four minutes of eyes on stalks riding—a classic!
From the bottom of Stage 4, it was a five-mile transition back to the arena in Mach for a quick feed or repair before heading up to Stage 5 "Mach 10". Used for the first time in last years BES this stage was given a complete makeover back in February to make it rideable and fun in all conditions. The riders favourite? With many natural features intermingled with bermed loveliness and rooty tech with enough pedalling to keep all happy. After just under three minutes, the riders had a nice short three-second sprint to cross the line and it was all over.
Alongside the Welsh Open there was also a Sport category of three stages taking in Stages 4, 1 and 5 in that order, this gave those riders who'd never done a big enduro the chance to sample what was required but over a much shorter loop.
Rachel Atherton made a surprise appearance and completed her first Enduro. Taking the win by over four minutes in the Pro-Green MTB Sport category from Katherine Goodey and Lianne Hier
So finally on to the results of the first Dyfi Welsh Open… After five stages, 32km, and 1,800 meters of climbing and descending the race was done! Joel Chidley took the overall win to become Welsh Champion 2017 with a time of 14m 47secs from Charlie Hatton also in his first ever enduro with Rob Williams coming home in third.
All that left to say is massive thank you to all our sponsors for all the fantastic prizes!
• Bird Cycleworks
• The Mountain Bike Chalet
• Mojo Suspension
• Pro-Green Mx
• Wickens & Soderstrom
• Shimano MTB
All the marshals for your dedicated work! Action Sports timing, Natural resources Wales, Tegid Humphreys, Mike Thickens and Nick the farmer for the use of his land.
See you all same time next year for the 2018 Welsh Open(s)…
Doc Ward Photography
Words: Charlie Williams