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 Dyfi has some of the best views in Wales
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...
From virgin woodland to sublime loam Stage 1 "Glanmerin" built for the event had it all.
Grassy turns and punchy climbs with some gorse to keep you on line.
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.
Known locally as "Elephants into Right Hand Builth" this trail is an old favourite! built back in 2013 and again in 2014 for the UKGE it has matured year on year to become a full on "Enduro" stage.
Final section of Stage 2 "Right Hand Builth" Howie Silvester on his way to winning the Vets category.
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!
Stage 4 of the Welsh Open ( Climachx Trail or No.8 ) has some of the best views in Wales, best not to get distracted here as there are numerous blind bends and drops to deal with. Garrick Thomas keeping it low.
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.
[PI=14759848 nopbcaption]Stage 5 "Mach10" had a massive make over for 2017 with the creation of the "Dragons Back". [/PI]
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.
A certain Women's Downhill World Champion popped her enduro cherry at the Welsh Open!
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
Pro-Green MTB Sport Men category winners Stuart Howard, Martin Lombardi and Kevin Sexton.
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.
Welsh Champions 2017 (Lewis and myself as stand-ins).
Bird Cycleworks Elite men winner Joel Chidley took the Title of Welsh Champ 2017 winning all bar 1 stage from Charlie Hatton and Rob Williams.
Charlie Hatton 2nd Elite in his first enduro followed Joe Breeden's lines all day (1st junior).
Bird Cycleworks Katie Wakely took the Elite win from Emma Wareham and Claire Bennett.
Bird Cycleworks Grand Veteran Winner John Cobb continues to dominate in this category winning by 30-seconds from Mike Hodgson and John Ward.
Bird Cycleworks U18 winner Joe Breeden with Harvey Rollason in 2nd and Tom Wilson in 3rd.
Bird Cycleworks U18 Women's winner Caja Parkes (where are all the junior ladies?).
Mud Hugger Master Men's winner Ash Mullane took the win from Andy Weames and Peter Heyward.
Pro-Green Master Women, Nicki Moore took the win from Lucy Follett and Jennie Rennie.
Bird Cycleworks Senior Men winner Ben Wooton followed by D=Ben Jones and Ollie Hooper.
Mudhugger Veteran Men's winner Hywel "Howie" Silvester followed by Kieth Horsnell and Chris Blackmore.
Mud Hugger Senior Women's winner Francie Arthure followed by Beck Jordan and Rebecca Parker.
Bird Cycleworks Hardtail, Tom Dunn took the win from Sonny Baston and Oliver rushton.
Anton West winning a fully catered holiday from The Mountain Bike Chalet for finishing 72nd.
Andy Tooze winning a fully catered holiday from The Mountain Bike Chalet for marshalling.
Tom Dunn collecting his Fox 36's for finishing 36th overall and also winning the Hardtail category on the way!
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 • Fox • Mudhugger • 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)…
Photos: Doc Ward Photography WGES Words: Charlie Williams