After missing out on an entry to the first round of the Thetford Winter Series, a series that has always been my winter highlight, i was looking for something else... enter a brand new race series based in Wales so not far from my new base of Manchester... Pedal Power Enduro 3hr.
WOR Events are experienced race organisers, all be it in the field of Off Road Motor Biking, so a well organised race was expected it was just the course that was gonna be the unknown.
The race categories weren't like a normal enduro.. more a mix of xc elite/expert cats and then the lower cats organised by age.. i optimistically entered the expert category.. with no elite entrants this became the top category.
The weather on race day was bleak at best... as me and Grace left Manchester the rain was hammering down and Wales isn't famed for its dry weather so it was only gonna get wetter or wetter and colder.. welcome to british winter racing.
As we got to the race venue... a forestry access road.. we were greeted by a well informed marshall, level of organisation was already obviously good... park up and sign on.
The weather was showers of cold rain.. temperature wasn't too bad so went for arm warmers and Endura gilet over a long sleeve to give me options if i got too hot during race ( what was i thinking but gave myself marks for optimism).
Rode a quick warm up the access road and after another chat with a marshall who described the course as 3 major tight wooded sections with alot of hard pack fire road i opted to raise my seat a little.
Upto the start line... we were strangely arranged diagonally in a line towards start.. hard to explain but we were told this was common fair in motorbike racing in case someone stalls the others can still get round.. unsure what the mtb equivalent of stalling is but we found it funny on the line... the expert class got to line up first on the start and although i didn't know any of the other guys in the class from previous races good race line banter was had.. i offered up that we ride out the 3 laps (11mile laps) that we expected to complete at a steady pace and race the last 10m which was received well but as it turned out no one went for it.
The start siren went and i found myself out the front sprinting up the fire road... i am useless at gauging a start so i gave it do or die effort... unfortunately we hit the first tech section before the field could properly string out.. the wooded sections were techie to say the least... really steep in places.. off camber.. muddy.. with roots cutting diagonally across the trails and you were always trying to traverse the slope. I dropped a few places in here as i struggled to get to grips with this stuff.
It was during this section we came across the first major obstacle.. a big moss covered boulder with a big drop on the back side... 3 of us got to it at once and all anchored on confused at how to tackle it... easy... ride round it:)
The first major climb my lack of training kicked in and the faster guys pulled away from me... order of the day was just to maintain a pace i could sustain for the 3 hours and get to grips with the technical downhill sections.
As the race progressed i spent most of my time alone... there was a steady long road climb at the mid point of the course and i would have loved lock out for my forks as i tried to get low and power up..
There was one climb in the race from which you could see who was chasing you down and i noticed a guy gaining on me lap 1 and 2 and by the mid point of the 3rd he had caught me and was leading the over 50's race.. normally i would have been disappointed to be caught but hey i was riding a fresh bike and with no base miles i was happy to still be upright.
The weather really got a bit chipper towards the end of the 3rd lap... just as i had used every spare calorie turning the pedals the temperature dropped and the horizontal sleet kicked in.. i was so cold.. luckily only a road downhill and fireroad climb remained as i couldn't feel my hands or feet.
As it turned out they changed the race to 3 laps rather than 3 hours although only the winner would have got out for a 4th... 33 miles completed.. think i finished top ten overall but enjoyed the good kicking i got and looking forward to coming back for more.
A really well organised race and a great course... congrats to WOR Events for this excellent race.
All pictures i have used in this race report were supplied by CETRA gallery and studio @ Cetra.co.uk