Dyfi Enduro Weekend – 6th May

So, the Dyfi Enduro, a punishing 37 mile route around the Dyfi forest…… An event I’d never done before. It’s got a really good reputation, and this is shown by the fact it sold out in 20 minutes! That’s 860 entries!

It’s based in Machynlleth, on May Bank Holiday weekend and is the same weekend as their comedy festival, so the town has a really good atmosphere.

After spending a late Friday night at Sara’s friends in Tywyn I headed to Machynlleth late Saturday morning. There was quite a wind blowing up the Dyfi Valley when I arrived so rather than battle to put my tent up I opted to sleep in the back of the car. After waiting for some drizzle to clear I headed out on the bike to make sure the new rear deraillieur I’d fitted after the “Peaks Incident” was working OK.

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After heading up to the Hollywood style Machynlleth sign above town (painted pink this year in memory of April Jones), I headed out to join up with one of the Mach 3 trails that we regularly ride. I rode to the point where the trail crosses Glyndŵr’s Way and followed this till it gets to the ‘golf course’ descent we’d discovered on a previous trip. Having ridden it, this would make a superb finish to our version of the Mach 3 trail.

I then followed Glyndŵr’s Way along the ridge overlooking the Enduro/Comedy festival campsite (visible the other side of town in the photo above) eventually dropping down at the far end of town. Back at the tent no one was about, Lump had arrived as his car was parked next to the tents. A quick phone call located them in the White Lion…. 10 minutes later I was supping a refreshing pint. And after a beer it was Chips O’clock!

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Saturday evening was a relaxed affair, if a little cold. There was plenty going on in and around the campsite, but twice we had to venture off site to warm up at a local hostelry.

Saturday night wasn’t so relaxed. I got into the back of the car only to find the air bed was flat, so I pumped it up. It stayed up so I got into my sleeping bad and got my head down. About an hour later I woke up, it was flat again. Pump it up, back to sleep. This happened a few times before I gave up and tried to sleep with it flat…. Needless to say I woke up feeling like I’d had next to no sleep!

The thought of trying to ride the event fast was not appealing at all. It was Lump’s first big event and talking to him in the morning he was a bit apprehensive about it, so I decided I’d ride it with him. OK, I’d be slower, but I’d get time on a bike, and hopefully this may help on the ‘long day’ that will be the Dragon Ride in June.

So, at just before 11 we wished the other guys luck and headed for the start, lining up about 3/4 back. Soon we started moving forward, the event was on….. The roads were closed, allowing us to follow a long procession of riders out of town and over the river Dyfi.

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The first road climb was quite slow due sheer number of riders, but soon the riders thinned out and before long we were at the bottom of the first fireroad climb up into the Dyfi Forest. I’m not sure quite what Lump was expecting, but this is one seriously long tough climb, especially as just when you’re legs are screaming stop, you come out of the trees and can see the line of riders way off in the distance, at least the same distance again as you’ve climbed from the valley floor!

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This kind of mental torture is repeated over and over again, but the descents between are simply stunning, and make the big climbs worthwhile (but not when you’re halfway up, at that point you’re questioning your sanity!)

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Right from the start Lump was having problems with the shock on his bike. It wouldn’t lockout, allowing the bike to bob up and down as he pedalled, a percentage of every pedal stroke being wasted. This was a problem we couldn’t fix, and unfortunately he’d just have to put up with it.P1010134z

We reached the food stop at 2/3 distance in 4 hours, so in theory we should finish the event in 6 hours. By now Lump was really struggling. I could see in his face that demons were now shouting in his head, massive negative thoughts brought on by exhaustion. He looked at the minibus with a bike trailer attached….for taking retirees back to the campsite. I suggested that if he wanted to use that he’d have to kick his rear deraillieur through his back wheel so his bike was unrideable…. and if he didn’t want to do it, I would.

We pressed on, I stayed with him on the climbs now rather that going at my own pace and then waiting. Conciously trying to keep the chat going on the climbs, hoping to keep his demons at bay. More stunning descents followed, although now I was leaving him behind on them and having to wait. Descending rocky terrain is hardwork at the best of times, but when you’re shattered the sensible thing is to slow it down a bit.P1010137z

Onto another climb, I’d resisted the temptation to look at the distance on my cycle computer earlier. It had now died, with a low battery, so taking a peek was not an option. But even though I didn’t recognise where we were, I was sure we couldn’t be far away from the top of Dicko’s Descent. Suddenly the fireroad turned sharp left. “We’re there mate, top of Dicko’s that’s the last real climb! It’s all downhill from here!” Sure enough, 100m further on we were at the top. “See you at the bottom!”

Dicko’s Bar, a disco they setup at the bottom had run out of beer, but the DJ in his gold jumpsuit continued to play, the smoke machines in full flow! We’d looked forward to a half at Dicko’s Bar at several points during the day, but I don’t think either of us were that bothered that they’d run out! Rolling down the fireroad back to the road we saw a familiar figure. It was Rob, now showered and in clean clothes, who’d come to find us on his nice shiney clean fat bike….  Lump wanted a hug, but Rob refused. A bit of a chase ensued with Rob trying to avoid us getting mud on him or his bike but I just managed to get next to him as we reached a big puddle… bingo! Direct hit!

Onto the main road we rode together, me and Lump tucking in behind Rob, allowing him to do the hard work and make a nice hole in the air. Into Mach, through the gates into the park and head for the Finish Banner…… and the well earned finishers Mug.

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“I won’t be doing that again” said Lump as he lay next to his bike clutching his finishers mug….. less than 24 hours later I had a meassage “So…. whilst cleaning the bike and kit today, I think I’ve set myself a goal to knock an hour off it next year :)

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