It was incredibly icy, there's no two ways about it. I set off at 10:16, straight onto a long stretch of compacted ice..."what am I in for here" I wondered! The first lap is always an unknown, and having never done this event and heard so much about it, I was apprehensive. My main goal was to finish and stay clean on time in what was my first ever clubman enduro.
I started off well, until we dropped off a road section onto some fire road and down to a hairpin, where the Ralïo+ S4C crew were filming for their TV program. You know what's coming...yeah it was my turn to be "that guy" who came off directly in front of the camera! It was so slippery there, and it was still in the shade, but no obvious signs of ice. I got half way around the corner, then the back end broke loose, I tried to catch it but then it turned into a high-sde and I got thrown clear of the bike. Not the best way to start the day! I had a few interviews with Emyr & Lowri throughout the day, so maybe my face will make the edit, more on that soon.
Anyway, I got back on and continued, being a bit more cautious on the fire road sections. I wasn't the only one to fall foul of the ice on the day, that's for sure. I saw a number of tell-tale plastic bodywork littering the track throughout the race.
After I completed the first lap, I felt a lot better about things. I was settled into a rhythm and felt good fitness-wise. It was really hard to see at times, with the bright sunshine either reflecting off the ice into my face, or just directly into my eyes! Very tricky on the special test, that's for sure.
My special tests all went fairly well, with the exception of the last one, where I got held up a little, then someone caught me (and hit me - not thanking you for that one, whoever you were!), but it didn't make much difference to my time.
I was still feeling good at the end of the 3rd lap with one left to go, but on that last lap I started to feel tired. Still, I managed to arrive at the checks with roughly the same amount of time to spare on each lap, so I was happy with the way I rode, having at least 5 minutes to spare at every check.
It was great to see a few familiar faces there - some I was expecting, some a pleasant surprise to bump into! All in all, a successful day's racing and I'll be back next year. Thanks to all involved who made it a very enjoyable race.
Photos of the event are available from Gary Jones, Bob Mullins at Enduro News and WTRA's Muddy Rider. There are also some videos on Muddy Rider's YouTube channel.