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RACE REPORT - Windley finishes in top 19% of overall riders!!

RACE REPORT - Windley finishes in top 19% of overall riders!!

Since taking delivery of my new (now not-so-new) 2016 Kona Process 153 DL earlier in May this year I've been spending a lot of time putting the miles into it and generally trying to pedal it at every opportunity. Whilst I have loved racing downhill over the last couple of years I've definitely enjoyed racing just the BDS (British Downhill Series). This season as I've been able to spend many more weekends on the enduro bike which equates to more time physically on the bike compared to a weekend racing downhill.

I've raced one enduro event before (Forest of Dean, 2015), but thought I'd give another one a try at Afan at Round 3 of the Welsh Gravity Enduro Series as Sarah (Crellin) has previously entered Round 2 and suggested I give it a go. Preparation for the race started on the Saturday with Gouldy kindly dropping bike into team mechanic Dave Webb at Mitchell's for a pre-race once over to get the gears shifting nice as I've had some niggly issues on those recently. I seriously owe Dave a beer or two given the amount of time he's put into my bike this month already!

I stayed overnight with Sarah & Chris, for some reason I got up at the ungodly hour of 5:30am for the long drive out to Afan as sign on began at 8:30am with racing between 10am-3pm. The format for the day ran as follows: three timed stages at various locations around the mountain with as many attempts to set your fastest time on each stage as possible over the 5 hour window. Simple. Only that this required some strategic planning to ride the uphill transitions between the stages as efficiently/slow as possible to conserve energy for where it really mattered. Both myself and Sarah stuck together and decided to race each stage twice (one fast practice run, with a second run to follow).

We hit up Stage 2 first to avoid traffic. This stage was a 3 minute sprint which felt uphill all the way, although going into all the stages blind having never ridden them before, I didn't know this. I managed to keep the bike at a decent pace and both runs felt similar but I was definitely hanging at the end of the run! Turned out my Stage run of 3:40 was good enough for 10th spot in category and 20 seconds off the fastest time of the day.

Stage 1 was next, essentially a mini downhill course around 90 seconds long with a surprise rock garden towards the end of the run. My first run felt solid although learning the lesson from BDS this year every run I do get progressively faster, although having opted not to ride the day before (Saturday practice, like the local Welsh boys do), guess you could say I was on the back foot a little. Never mind, that's racing. A second run after lunch felt pinned, I'm definitely feeling more confident on the Process 153 than the downhill bike in the corners; it just feels much more balanced and far easier to do 'cutties' and drift the corners. If you don't know what they are, just google "Bryn Atkinson and Cutties". Again, I ended up in 10th spot for the stage so given more practice I reckon a more time was on the table.

Stage 3 was the longest stage at around 5-6 mins long, taking up 50% of the total race time. In hindsight we should have focused more on perfecting this stage earlier on in the day as it worked out more climb efficient on the maths to practice this and learn the track. We hit the stage just before lunch as it finished near the car park at the bottom of the mountain. Again, hitting it completely blind I overcooked the 90-degree corners on the fire roads and lost some time there, but not knowing how long the stage was it's hard to judge how hard to sprint and where to conserve energy so this really was a shot in the dark.

Turns out my first run was the only one that counted as my second run of this stage was at 2:58pm (my fault for being late to the stage!) and I caught traffic on the stage with no way to pass, so any time I did make up knowing the course a little better was instantly thrown out the window. My first run was a 5:53 and good enough for 27th with 60 riders in the senior category. Those Welsh boys are absolutely rapid and a fair play to them, but knowing the course is definitely an advantage so I can't help think what might have been if I'd have been around 10th place as per the other two stages. I ended up placing 46/238 riders overall so I'm happy with that.

It's good to know the training has been paying off, but looking at the split time there's always room for improvement so I need to get my head down and continue smashing the laps out this Winter. I'd love to race a BES (British Enduro Series) round next year to complement the downhill races so that's the goal now. Roll on 2017.

Team Mitchell Cycles
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