Race Report | Mondraker Red Kite Round 4, Blind and Snotty!
As a big fan of blind stage racing, UK Editor Jim Buchanan headed back for another ‘Sunday only’ day of racing at the fourth Mondraker Red Kite event in the Crychan Forrest, mid Wales. These events are becoming races where riders can home their skills on the steep techy forest trails, but faced with the added challenge of not knowing the tracks and the fact it had been giving it full Welsh downpours all night could they even be ridden?
As we approached the hills of mid Wales the clouds were visible over the tops, looming like smoke from a giant’s fire. We had traveled nearly two hours of beautiful morning sunshine from Shropshire, although expecting the devil’s tears from the sky we all had our usual optimism of a nice August dry race. As we hit the rain the mood changed in the van, when Stu (the most outspoken of us) started to give it the big “for fuck’s sake, I’m not even getting outa the fuckin’ van if it’s like this when we get there!” Doose and I laughed at Stu’s usual annoyance of the world’s wrongs, both more chilled, but quietly agreeing with our ex-pro DH friend, who often seems to run on pure anger!
On arrival other racers were milling around, many of whom had done the previous day and were going for the ‘two day’ result. As we got out of the van there was a brief window of rain stoppage. My optimism of dry tracks was soon destroyed after talking to the previous day’s riders, who told of impossible stages with soap like mud and greasy roots; I was soon banging on a front mud tyre. Doose and I risked the rear tyre (probably more out of laziness) both opting to run the semi-slick Rock Razors.
As soon as we set off up the hill the rain commenced again, just small servings of damp drizzle at first, gaining in strength to proper rain drops by the end of racing. We had seven stages to do, three of which had been ditched from the previous day, as they were literally un-ridable apparently and organizer Neil Delafield didn’t want to make things so hard that all riders sacked it off. A couple of these were replaced by bike park stages, flat and pedally with very over grown reed edges, making blind corner speed very tough and risky, and causing Angry Stu to portray his annoyance on completion; to our delight! Two of the stages were repeated and the transitions up were steady and short, making for more fun on the way back down. As usual we had no start times and could all ride together as mates, as Coynie (the race crasher) met us there, we rode all day as a group of four.
Two of the stages had been left in from the previous day, these were much more Red Kite style, gravity fed, loamy, rooty and tough; but add to the mix a night full of Welsh rain and they took every molecule of rider skill and experience to get down without crashing, trying to keep your feet on the pedals being nigh-on impossible in places. Stu, the only one of us without a front spike, still shone on these stages, a bit like the super-smooth Doose (on his once shiny new Sanction) still managed a couple of face-plants; Coynie managed several crashes and even went the wrong way on one stage, blowing his overall time for the day!
As we headed up for the last two stages, passing the van for the fourth time for drinks and food and as the rain came down heavy, we had had enough. But like true enduro soldiers we gritted our teeth and cracked on with the job, at that point the conversation went a bit dead up the hills towards the end of the race; each of us soaked to the skin. We came down, seven stages in, covered in crap, drenched, surprisingly tired but all buzzing that we had got through it, several racers had jacked early and gone home; definitely not true enduro riders!
The overall race was won by another Shropshire lad Jason Powel, Stu (1st Vet) was 2nd overall, Doose (2nd Master) was 3rd overall and even I (2nd Vet) had managed equal 4th overall with another Shropshire rider Ben Llewellin (3rd Master) These results just went to prove that when the going gets real tough, experience cannot be beaten! There were no podiums as riders just wanted to get home to hot showers and fill their belly’s, but looking back it was still a great event.
Full Results of both days- here
Organisers website- here
Words| Jim Buchanan
Pics| Dan Wyre Photography