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Race Report – Round 1, 2018 Welsh Enduro Series, Foel Gasnach – Heather Kay

Flow MTB rider Heather Kay picked up first place at the first round of the 2018 Welsh Enduro Series

Flow MTB rider Heather took part in the first round of the 2018 Welsh Enduro series at Foel Gasnach

Flow MTB rider Heather took part in the 1st round of the 2018 Welsh Enduro Series at Foel Gasnach. Waking up to snow was not on the agenda but with tracks that suited Heather’s style of riding, natural and rooty, she went on to pick up first place. Here’s her race report

Wake up, look at the clock, 6:15. Look out the van window, snow storm. S**t. My van is mega heavy, I’m in the middle of the Welsh hills and my snow chains are tucked away safely in my lock up… Nice. Having hesitated about getting back into racing after a quiet year the weather conditions aren’t exactly favourable!

After a couple of attempts I made it to Foel Gasnach and breathed a sigh of relief. Marshals were on the road side waiting for word from the organiser whether the event would go ahead or not. I didn’t envy the poor chap. Mountain bikers are renowned for complaining and the decision was not an easy one. The forecast was for it to clear so despite the snow and cold it was a goer. I parked up and just sat in my van watching the snow fall outside my window. I must admit I was a hair’s breadth from starting my van up and driving away. When you live in a van and you spend a cold wet day on the bike the post ride situation is not amusing. Rank kit, rank bike, standing in front of a log burner trying to flannel the mud off you, not to mention the rank husky in the van with you…

Somehow, I found the motivation for the walk to registration, trying to work out a game plan for the day. They decided to only run tracks 3 and 4, so I headed back to the van thinking a late practice and straight into race runs, then back to the van, warm clothes, book a hotel and treat myself. With the game plan set I had a late breakfast and waited till 10:30 to head out for practice.

What was I thinking!? 200 metres into stage 3 I almost got off the bike and quit. Luckily two thirds of the way down stage 3 I found my mojo (read: I was so soaked there was no point turning back) and I dropped out the bottom with a smile on my face. I was soon back up at the top only to discover that racing had been moved forwards and I couldn’t practice stage 4. I should’ve realised they’d move racing forwards, I’m pretty good at riding blind so I wasn’t too worried and by that point I just wanted to get on with it and check into my hotel!

Racing was SICK, conditions totally played into my hands, the tracks were properly natural and rooty, the water had actually made stuff deceivingly grippy and track 4 was rapid as! I actually finished racing and fancied having a crack at some of the other runs there. Instead I headed back to the van and congratulated myself again on kit selection. With full waterproofs everything except the outer layer was clean (although damp), so I was soon in warm dry clothes and headed back to grab some food and chat with the other riders awaiting results and podiums.

What an event. Full credit to organisers, marshals, medics, photographers (really guys!?) etc. for pulling it off. The atmosphere was cracking, the tracks were amazing, I got my mojo back and I had a hotel to relax in, what is there not to like? See y’all at round 2!

@flowmtbapparel / @heatherkaymtb / photo Steve Baxter