The Season begins – Bike Park Wales mini Enduro

It is here already! My first attempt at a full season of Enduro racing began this Saturday 4th March with the Haibike Mini Enduro at Bike Park Wales. The day started with glorious sunshine and clear blue skies like I feel I haven’t seen in forever!  Then the weather Gods remembered this was Wales so it started raining…..

At such a popular venue it was bound to be a busy day, there were around 350 entrants of which I was a little disappointed to discover only 13 were women. There were 19 riders in the E-bike category, I find it a sad situation when there are more E-bikes than ladies! I’m struggling to understand why this was as on a whole the tracks were friendly and the whole day was very well run.

The Beast in race mode

The schedule for the day was practice in the morning, race runs in the afternoon. With so many people entered and the women’s category running 2nd to last this meant my first race run wasn’t until 3.30pm. Though this gave me lots of time to practice, have lunch and get ready, it also gave me far too much time to worry and stress! The stages were –

1 – Hotstepper (Red)     2 – Daia Hard (Black)      3 – (Wibbly Wobbly into Rimdinger (Red)

Personally, I thought Hotstepper was brilliant, Daia Hard was good but the last 2 roll off/drops were proper rider scarers and the bottom section turned to slush. Stage 3 was a real grin inducing ride but physically exhausting. Riding that as your last run was a well thought out test of endurance, just as an enduro race should be. Wibbly Wobbly requires a good bit of pedal effort then Rimdinger is basically one almost continuous rock garden with not a lot of gradient so your only choice is to try and get off the brakes and hang on! By the end of the day I worked out I had ridden around 21 miles including practice.

I finished 5th out of 6 in the Senior Women and 8th out of 13 overall women.

The aim of this blog for me has always been to give an honest account of my racing experiences but I’ve been really struggling to put into words how I felt about my day.  I travelled up with a couple of guys and had a great time riding around with them in practice. It was helpful to learn from the different lines they were seeing in the track, exchange race tactics and ways to get in the right mindset. I rode the 1st and last stages cleanly and very much enjoyed them but the 2nd stage, Daia Hard, I really messed up. I allowed worry and self doubt to take over as I became so fixated on the 2 drops I didn’t like and the fact the bottom was super sloppy. I rode like a hesitant mouse rather than attacking it in race mode. I actually rode the drop fine but made tons of silly, time costly mistakes in other sections because I wasn’t in the right mindset. I didn’t just trust myself and the bike.

At first I was really letting this get me down and ruin my day, then I realised that was stupid. We all make mistakes, you have one shot at each run in a race, it is not always going to go according to plan. When you are new to racing you are obviously going to make more mistakes. Being an impatient, competitive, perfectionist type of person like I am, I often struggle to accept that I won’t be able to do everything, perfectly, immediately. Though this can be a good thing as it motivates me to push myself harder all the time, it does need to be managed. I don’t think I fear crashing most of all, I fear failing.

Having got these feeling under control, now, when I look back at the race I think of how stoked I felt riding those 2 red trails. They were super fun with so much flow that gave you speed, easy air time and just massive grins all round. The Rallon was running super, it felt so planted through the rock sections rampaging through them like the tank it is. I didn’t have one mechanical problem all day. I also met a couple more girls from the South West so I hope that will turn into more fast ladies to get out shredding with.

Now it’s all about getting in as much riding time as possible before the next race to get fitter and feeling as confident on the bike at speed as possible. Hopefully this will mean I can push a bit harder next time.

This event was also the 2nd round of the Welsh Gravity Enduro series which is a great set of races to get involved with for all levels of rider. Links below.

Many thanks to the organisers, marshals and Bike Park Wales for running such a great event and Luko for driving me!

For more info on these races see here for Mini Enduro events or here for Welsh Gravity Enduro series