Dyfi Enduro 2014
Some of you may have heard of the Dyfi Enduro in Machynlleth in mid Wales. It’s been running for a long time and is a staple in many rider’s calendars due to it’s mix of challenging marathon route, tricky descents and great atmosphere. The whole village turns out for the mass start and there are numerous stops around the route where weird stuff (clowns, brass bands, discos and free beer) is going on to keep your mind off the pain in your legs. After hearing great things about it some of us decided to get in on the action for the first time this year and see what the fuss was about.
Some arrived on Friday night to make a long weekend of it, and went to ride Coed y Brenin on the Saturday. Unfortunately I could not make it and arrived early afternoon on Saturday but I think my legs thanked me for that the following day. The event site is set up like a mini festival complete with bar tent with a disco, catering tents and various activities going on for the non-riders, who were there in large numbers. There were around 1000 entrants this year but the campsite had easily enough capacity for all the various tents, vans, gazeebos, cars and flags and still felt very laid back. After getting set up it was time to start on the other equally important activity for the weekend, having a beer or three! The weather was cold but dry and we sat around the camp until the siren call of dinner was too much to ignore. We wandered into town following instructions for a pizza place and were soon stuffing ourselves with a very carefully selected, sports nutritionally calculated, athletic dinner. This was followed by more scientifically blended carbohydrate enery drinks (beer). The bar tent was in full flow and the tunes were kicking out so we checked that out for a bit then sense took over and we went to bed ready for the mammoth task the next day.
Sunday came around and thanks to the friendly start time of 11am it was relaxed morning getting bikes and gear ready to ride. The start takes the form of a procession from the campsite through town and along back roads into the hills. There were hundreds of people lining the streets and it was a very cool experience. I was with Dave G who had been the year before and recommended we try and start as far ahead as possible to avoid the inevitable bottlenecks on the initial singletrack sections, so we were going at a fair pace along the streets and back roads until we came to the first climb. This monster thinned out the riders quite a bit and we tried to keep a good pace on the way up, but the sheer sustained length of it was hard going. Some odd looking clowns near the top of the climb were a welcome distraction and put the smiles back on faces, and we ended up at the first section of singletrack. There was a little hold up here as someone came off in front of us but not too bad and we sailed down the first fun and fast section. This pattern would be repeated for the rest of the ride, killer fireroad climbs that seemed to go on forever, and sweet descents that too lasted long enough to get the legs hurting again as they worked to absorb the terrain. The descents were a real mix of forest singletrack, loose rocks, wet roots and steep chutes. The famous ‘World Cup’ descent that I had heard about was actually pretty ridable, the trick seemed to be concentrate on your line and not try and brake on the off-camber, slightly slippery rocks. This was made more challenging as you also had to avoid the various riders who either were either voluntarily or accidentally off their bikes and scattered down the descent.
The food stop at about 2/3 distance came up not a moment too soon and there was enough sausage rolls and flapjack to sink several of the proverbial battleships, and even some lovely chilli sauce to go with them! Refuelled and rested a little we headed on, and were soon on the final climb to the ‘split’ where the short route ends and the brave/foolhardy can go on for another 10km. By the top of the last climb I was walking and Jesse and I had kind of decided to take the easy option home. However, once we arrived at the split and had some of the free beer that was being handed out and a jig around to the funky house music banging out of the soundsystem, we were thinking ‘how bad could it be??’ and headed off up the long route. We took it easy from then on, Dave had headed off ahead after we said we were going to take the short route, but Rob had caught us up at the beer tent. The final climbs were just as tough as the rest, but the last descent was noteworthy, a really slippery muddy clay filled line full of ruts of various sizes with the odd root thrown in for good measure! I ended up getting down without coming off and laughing like an idiot at the ridiculousness of the situation as I had barely enough control to stay upright an certainly not enough to stop if needed!
We arrived at the finish completely drained but happy we had pushed on for the long route and more happy that we had made it round with no mechanicals or major crashes. In all the route was a monster 66km with 2200m of climbing and descent. Dave G did really well at around 4.5 hours, and we came in around the 5 hour mark. Stealth XC whippet Dave P, who we had not seen all ride, stormed through with a sub 4 hour time, nice one! As a comparison, the fastest guys made it round in just over 2.5 hours….but remember it’s not a race and everyone is a winner 😉 After a shower at the local leisure centre just next to the campsite, I fell unconscious for nearly an hour until woken up for the evening’s recovery activities, more beer! This was helped down with a kebab from the local eatery and continued into the bar/disco tent where much to my surprise the DJ even played a short drum and bass set. My legs were not up to throwing myself around the dance floor so had to made do with a slight nodding of the head.
In all….an amazingly fun weekend. The addition of the free campsite and bar tent with disco made the whole thing much more of an event in itself than the usual race setup, and hopefully something we can emulate even in a small way in a couple of weeks at the QECP Day & Night enduro. More info about the event is at www.summitcycles.co.uk/enduro/dyfienduro.html and full results can be seen at summit.smartdata.co.uk/results. See you next year hopefully!