Racing -

Race Recap | Mondraker Enduro Series #1 Coed Trallwm, Wales

The Red Kite Events Mondraker Enduro Series consists of five races in 2015 spread across Wales and England. They are aimed at the average/serious trail rider, with technical drops and corners to make it fun and challenging. The first race happened March 22nd, here is the summary:

The racing season is close to getting into full swing soon and so I have been looking to get started when at some events when I can get to them. On searching through calendars and event websites, it appears we are spoilt for choice now! I can think of seven different enduro race series going on this year, covering all parts of the country offering racing at different levels and formats, so there is plenty of choice out there to go try something new, get practice in or just race. With the weekend clear for some racing to be done before the national enduro series kicks off, I was keen to get some race practice in and I ended up having the choice of two events to be held in Wales, one was a Welsh Enduro Series round and the other A Red Kite Events – Mondraker enduro series, with the Red Kite event being closer to home I opted for this one.

Mark West on stage 1, masters winner.
Mark West on stage 1, masters winner.

It was held at the Coed Trallwm MTB centre in mid wales, near to Builth wells which will be familiar to racers who have been around the block as it was venue to several national XC and DH races in years past. This was round 1 and differed in format to the enduro format that is becoming familiar now as you could race when you wanted to and with whoever you wanted to also, which made for a nice relaxed and friendly atmosphere over the weekend. Also a little extra was that you could enter to race Saturday and Sunday or just enter for Sundays racing. Saturday was open for practice in the morning and with the transitions to stages being not too long or tiring you could cover the 3 stages on offer fairly easily. So Saturday 3 stages were raced in the afternoon and Sunday these 3 stages were repeated and another 2 stages raced after these, the last two everyone was racing blind.

Trickier than it looks!
Trickier than it looks!

Arriving at the race site and the weather was sunny and relatively warm and looked good all weekend, this was a particular blessing as the first two stages were pretty fresh cut into mossy soil which was greasy under the surface and littered with roots and stumps and so if the weather had of been bad then surviving these stages would have been very difficult to say the least!

All three stages on Saturday were accessed by climbing the same section of fire road through the parking area, after 10-15mins pedalling you could be at the start of stage 1 and 2 as they set off at the same point but in opposite directions. Both stages were tight and twisty, pretty freshly built and plenty of little tree stumps and roots to watch out for in the corners, some of which were pretty step hairpins. 1:30 and the first stage could be finished whereas stage 2 had a short fire road sprint and into a fast and flowing section of trail centre track to finish on, adding 20-30 secs to the stage. A nice touch was both stages dropped onto the main climb road and across allowing everyone to see a little of what was going on and cheering for other riders. Stage 3 was around the 2 min mark and started on more established trail and had much more flow, a steep middle section before you came off a small access road part and into the final fresh trail which had some rocks planted along it to keep speeds up over boggy parts, all in a good varied track which meant Saturdays racing was technical and required clean skilled riding to come out on top.

With Saturday afternoon, everyone lined up to get their wristband chips activated and then everyone made their way to stage 1 in their own time. Typically there was a queue for stage 1 but then the stages became clearer to start on as people got around all 3 stages at their own pace….I was more keen to get round sooner rather than later as the England rugby game kicked off at 5!

Rob Stobart, Vets winner for Sunday.
Rob Stobart, Vets winner for Sunday.

After the 3 stages were done you went back to base at the café and downloaded your times with your chip and got an instant printout of them, a nice touch but only showed you your position out of who had finished ahead of you so results would be published once everyone had finished for the day. The top three at the end of the day were Joe Buck, Nikki Whiles and Mark West, whilst I was aiming to be in the mix, a crash on the first stage left me too much to try and claw back….but I did get to the pub in time to watch the rugby with local beer and local atmosphere!

Dropping down middle of stage 2.
Dropping down middle of stage 2.

So for Sunday it was 5 stages to race, again go when you wanted after 10am. First 3 stages were the same as Saturday’s and then 2 more which were raced blind. After the first three being technical and having to race the next two without practicing them I hoped they would be tamer and fairly straight forward to go fast first go. Basically that’s what they were, much more you’re standard enduro race stages, with stage 4 being around 3mins mostly down wide gravel trails with some bus stops and singletrack pieces to spice it up a bit. Stage 5 was a little over 2mins basically following gravel tracks across and down the hillside, very high speed in the middle before a pedal in the woods to the finish. With the addition of the last two stages a good overall mix was ridden for the race, giving a great weekends riding. So for those who rode and raced both days, 8 stages made up your time and the 5 stages determined your time for Sunday only racers, a nice idea for people who don’t always have whole weekends free. For the Saturday/Sunday racers it was the same top three who rode cleanly and it ended with Nikki Whiles taking first, Joe Buck in second and Mark West in third. Sundays racers saw Ross Lambie, Jason Powell and Lee Turner take 1,2,3. The three women racing finished Sarah Mee, Victoria Sjuve and Helen White, as for me, the first stage got me again meaning I had to battle to try and gain time back and managed to end up claiming the third step of the podium in masters.

With racing being done and dusted and time to kill before all riders finished up, I took the opportunity to go ride the one of the marked loops in the forest and got to have some fun in the sun and take in some nice Welsh scenery at the same time and just enjoy being out on the bike. So all in all I think everyone had a good time riding and racing over the two days, definitely another appealing series to take part in this year.

Playtime in the sun after racing was over!
Playtime in the sun after racing was over!

A thanks to Cannondale, Mavic, ION camera, MRP, Magura, Ion protection, RRP, Renthal, 100% for their continued support.

Words: Aidan Bishop Photos: Barbara Bishop