Well, it’s safe to say that this has been a bit of a strange weekend. It was meant to be the weekend when I did my first enduro race. It ended up being something quite different.
The Mr and I entered the Mondraker Gravity Enduro that was taking place in and around Newnham Park in Plymouth this weekend. It’s meant to be a great introduction to enduro, without too much in terms of structure and on a course to suit newbies to the race format. There was camping on site and a live band in the evening. We turned up feeling nervous, but excited.
After picking our spot to camp, we headed up to register, got our race numbers and got our heads around what we needed to do. There were to be two stages on Saturday (which we could practice) and four blind stages on Sunday. There was a fair bit of time to practice and we headed off to the second section to give it a go. And that’s when it started to go wrong. The course itself was pretty straight forward – single track through the woods, nothing too taxing – but I couldn’t help feeling uneasy. We reached a feature that was trickier than the rest – a rocky, steep chute that I would normally have been able to ride, but not on Saturday. On Saturday I got the wobbles. There was a marshal standing watching me and other riders coming past. I didn’t like it! I didn’t like feeling under pressure to do something I would like to take some time to suss out. I didn’t like that other riders were haring past. I didn’t like that I felt like I was in everyone’s way and that I almost certainly would be when the race began.
After some more riding, some soul-searching and some tears, I decided that this wasn’t for me. The idea of being set off down the course with riders, no – racers, following me, was really freaking me out. I’m the girl who doesn’t like playing Pacman because she doesn’t like the feeling of being chased! So, with a heavy heart and a huge feeling of disappointment and embarrassment, we made the decision to head home. Today was not my race day.
I beat myself up for the rest of the day. I told myself I was pathetic for not trying harder. I convinced myself that I was rubbish at riding. And then I went to bed and dreamt that I was riding my bike whilst being chased by zombies! Blergh!
Sunday came round and I knew I needed to ride. So we packed our bikes in the van and headed into Wales, to the Brecon Beacons. We headed to a ride called ‘The Gap’, which we’d heard great things about. So, armed with a map and a couple of pork pies, we set off from Talybont on the Taff Trail up a nice big hill. And that’s when it all became quite funny.
In our bid to leave a race behind us, we found ourselves right amongst one! For today was the day of the Brecon Beast, an endurance race that took in the exact ride we planned to do. As we started to overtake riders, who’d been out an hour longer than we had, I couldn’t help but grin. I had inadvertently got involved in a race and I was really enjoying it! There was friendly banter and riders of all abilities on all sorts of bikes. They were a friendly bunch, who were as amused as we were by finding us riding amongst them.
The ride itself was brilliant; lots of climbing, some of it technical, and some excellent singletrack descending. The views were pretty much hidden by cloud at the top of the climb, but I’m pretty certain they were spectacular.
We didn’t complete The Gap today, as the weather was chillier than we’d kitted up for, but we had an excellent ride. We found ourselves a diversion that took us down to the edge of the Talybont Reservoir, which is stunning. We even found a super friendly youth hostel where we sampled some excellent cake.
Today’s race that wasn’t a race was just the ride I needed after the race that didn’t happen. And I think I know now which kind of racing I prefer…!
Here are a few pics from the ride: