Having heard so much good stuff about the Howies Dyfi Enduro, I finally got the chance to go this year... I will definitely be back again!
Sunday was an early start with a 2.5 hour drive to Machynlleth & it was absolutely chucking it down when I left home and did so for the first 1.5 hours of the journey. Having been to the Dyfi forest for the first time for the Winter Warm-up a couple of months ago, at least I know the trails would be ride-able. It also gave me a decision to make – take the Singular Swift (my old faithful all-rounder rigid singlespeed) or chuck the Singular Rooster prototype 29+ on the rack (extra air in the tyres and loads of grip – still rigid, still singlespeed)... Rooster it was! On arrival, at least the hard rain had stopped, but the misty drizzle didn’t look like it was going away, but at least it was warmer than last time I was there.
I was fortunate enough to have some friends on the front of the line-up at the start who insisted I join them (thanks Dan Treby!), which meant being in the lead group through the back roads to the bottom of the first climb. The pace was swift and people soon seemed to get strung out with Alex Welburn (Torq) leading the way up into the mist & clouds. By the top of the fire road I had settled in behind Alex and managed to keep sight of him until the mist drew in at which point I kept seeing the odd glimpse of his wheel as the mist thinned & thickened. Behind me I could see Chris Metcalfe a short distance back. The Rooster turned out to be an excellent choice, especially as we hit the first couple of descents – oodles of grip and plenty of cushion in the 3” tyres, but with a little extra drag on the fire roads that were already a little draggy themselves due to the amount of water that had fallen out of the sky on Saturday night. Any gap that I lost on the climbs I soon got back as we hit the techy descents. I had heard about the World Cup descent & it was amazing, if not slightly daunting on a rigid bike! Lots of pinging off bare slate and skittering of wheels across the trail – I was just glad I had a clear run at it!
This opening and closing of the gap behind me continued until the feed station at 25 miles where I needed to top-up on water and chomp down on some Eastern Express Mule Bar allowing Chris and Matthew Gilbert came past. We swapped positions a couple of times until one particularly nasty climb back through the trees forced me to get off and push as my gearing was a little too high for the conditions. Just after the beer stop at 30 miles I lost sight of them as the mist closed in again, we gained a load more altitude and the Roosters tyres started to really punish my legs. These last few miles were a lonely Salted Caramel gel-fuelled affair, but by the finish I had only dropped a minute on Chris and just under 4 to Matthew with my finishing time being 2.5 minutes under the 3-hour mark for 35 miles and 1900m of climbing. Alex finished 10 minutes ahead. I think it is fair to say I was pretty chuffed with the time and placing.
The ride back to town was nice and relaxed and we had a chance to chat – even the sun came out momentarily! It was great to hear that Matthew & Chris were concerned that they were not going to get past me as each time they got close on the climbs I would disappear again as we went downhill. Hopefully next time I go back to Dyfi I will get to see some of the amazing scenery they spoke about...
Once again, a big thanks to Mule Bar for keeping me fuelled, E3Coach for keeping me motivated, Singular for the loan of the Rooster, Fibrax for their pads that seem to want to refuse to wear out, Hope, Goldtec and EDS bikes. Next stop Rhayader for the Scott Marathon...