Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Results: ET James Welsh Solo Enduro Championship 2015

The final standings are out for the ET James Welsh Solo Enduro Championship - well done to everyone, it's been yet another highly competitive year!

From a personal point of view, I haven't done enough rounds to take any meaning from my championship position but I'm happy to have scored some points in the clubman class nonetheless.

Best of luck to everyone in the 2016 championship! The full 2015 results can be downloaded here.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Results: Fowlers enduro 2015

The results are out already for the Fowlers Enduro 2015! Efficient timing and officiating from the Mid Wales Dirt Track crew means that we have the results the same day, and I'm happy to have finished 9th in the clubman class, having stayed clean on time. I wasn't sure how I'd cope having been off the bike for 3 months since the Powys Enduro (and another 3 months before that). Fitness didn't prove to be that much of a problem and I was able to push hard when I needed to.

Once again, thanks to all the marshalls, officials and the rest of the Mid Wales Dirt Track organisers for a great event.

The full results can be downloaded here.

Monday, 19 October 2015

ioTube videos: Fowlers enduro 2015

On board my EXC 300, both special tests at the Fowlers enduro 2015 in the clubman class:

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Race report: Fowlers enduro 2015

I hadn't touched the bike since the Powys Enduro in August, so the first order of the day on Saturday was to get the bike fettled and ready for the day's competition on Sunday.

I greased everything up as I usually do, tightened and adjusted the handguards, re-aligned the front wheel (ahem - the result of a crash in the Dyfi forest at the Powys), tightened the chain, refuelled and mixed my race fuel, oiled the air filter and cleaned the spark plug. Then I put my race numbers on (42) and checked all the various nuts and bolts for any loose ones.

With that all done, I went to walk the special tests - the second test was really nice and flowing with some beautiful bermed and banked corners and climbs and descents, that took me 25 minutes to get around on foot. The first test was up at the start and that was a nice, long cross country test through the woods with some fantastic fast, flowy sections and some tight technical going too. That one was long though! I saw Jane Daniels previewing the course while I was there, she flew around in 9 and a half minutes, so I knew it was a good distance. Anyway, an hour and a quarter later and having skipped a section on Tom Sagar's (clerk of the course) advice, I was back at the start. The first lap was a sighting lap for the first test, so there was no real need to walk it, but I like to take every opportunity to make my life easier during a race.

After walking the tests and feeling good about the next day, I returned home and loaded my bike in the trailer. Then I set about gathering all my race kit together and cleaning my many sets of goggles.

Sunday morning arrived and we got to the paddock at 8:30am, parked up and I took my bike down to sign on and get scrutineered. With that done, I left my bike in the parc ferme and went to put my kit on and get myself a cup of coffee.

My start time was 10:14am and I was riding in the competitive clubman class. We set off straight onto the first special test from the start and I took the first lap to get into my rhythm. I had arm pump in my right arm for the first lap which made things a little tricky, but I stretched when I could and coped as best I could,

By the time the second lap came around, I was feeling good and comfortable on the bike. I had two good tests that lap and had a lot of fun. I dropped the bike a couple of times after getting cross-rutted on the going but I was happy with the way I was riding and my fitness was holding up well despite my lengthy absence from racing.

The third lap was going well too - the second check got tighter every lap. On the first lap we had 42 minutes, the second lap we had 38 minutes, and on the final lap we had only 32 minutes! I knew I had to keep a good pace and avoid any mistakes, so I dug deep on the last check and rode really well, getting to the check with 30 seconds to spare before my minute ticked over!

Then it was straight onto the first test for the final time and I was doing well until the penultimate corner, when my front wheel bounced over one side of a log and the back wheel went the other side. I dropped it, but where normally I would've been going again in a matter of seconds, my electric start had seized up so I couldn't start the bike easily. I had to get off it again, get neutral and then kick it into life before I could push it out of there! I was so frustrated as I lost a good 30 seconds there but that's what happens when you're tired.

All in all it was a great race, the course was really enjoyable and I feel like I rode well, many thanks to the Mid Wales Dirt Track club, all the marshalls and officials and the photographers. Phillip Hodges took some great photos, you can view them on his Facebook page.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

News: Merzouga Rally 2015

Just days after the Rallye Oilibya du Maroc FIM World Rally Championship round where GBR's Sam Sunderland (KTM) took the win and Matthias Walkner clinched the world title (2nd, KTM), the world's rally riding elite are now tackling the Merzouga Rally.

Now when I say tackling, I mean they are having to bring their A-game this year! The start of the race was pretty brutal, sending the riders up a huge hill climb full of rocks, boulders, gravel and rock steps. Even the pro riders struggled and flapped their way up, so a lot of respect is due to the entire field for their efforts so far.

One of those riders is British Dakar 2016 entrant Chris "Corky" Cork, who established his riding roots in the UK All Terrain Rally Challenge. He's riding a great race so far, navigating well and avoiding penalties, get behind him and show your support! His race number is 39 and you can follow his race on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as on the Merzouga Rally live timing site.

You can also find out how to support his Dakar race effort in January 2016 by visiting his website

Update (after stage 3): Sam Sunderland (KTM) had a big crash in a whooped river bed on the first half of the Marathon stage, breaking his right femur and left collarbone. Matthias Walkner (KTM) also withdrew from the race due to sickness. Antoine Meo (KTM) was with Sunderland and Walkner at the time of Sunderland's crash at KM 111, but after their withdrawals, provisionally leads the rally in the general standings. The riders will do their own servicing overnight and continue onto the second half of the marathon stage in the morning. We all wish Sam Sunderland a very speedy recovery, and hope that this doesn't ruin his chances of getting to the Dakar Rally in January.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Hafren entry in!

Entries opened today for the final round of the 2015 All Terrain Rally Challenge, the Hafren Rally. Held on the 15th of November this year, in the wake of Wales Rally GB, it will be a tough days' riding with 3 special tests per lap in a 50 mile loop. I've got my entry in already!

I'm sure it'll be an exciting day of racing, the Hafren always draws a crowd and brings some very talented local riders out of the woodwork, so anything could happen!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Fowlers entry in!

I'm pleased to have got my entry in for the Mid Wales Dirt Track Fowlers Enduro in 2 weeks' time. It turns out that this year's Bwlchciliau event is going to be a Hare & Hounds and will therefore be dropped from the 2015 ET James Welsh Solo Enduro Championship, making Fowlers Enduro the final round of the championship this year.

That should make for a pretty good turn out in what is a great event. That being said, I remember the last time I competed at the Fowlers enduro - it remains the toughest event I've ever done! That was back in 2013 - I entered the Sportsman class and it was billed as a good enduro for beginners. Well that was a bit of an eye opener, let me tell you. The course was very, very wet and it was effectively one giant deep, sloppy, muddy rut all the way round. In fact, the special tests were by the far the toughest part of the 20 mile loop.

We were 2 laps in, I'd just completed the 2nd special test and I was completely exhausted. I finished the lap thinking I was done for the day and I entered the check to see a grimace on Jess Hockly's face "Just one more to go...sorry" she said. I think she could see the look of anguish on my face! I pulled into the pits and there were some other Sportsmen there, who were packing up their things to go home. Then my mate came in and said that he'd been sent round the 2nd special! I must have been the last Sportsman to go through. Knowing I only had to negotiate the first test again and seeing my mate pull back out onto the course, I decided I'd give it a shot. So off we went, and we stuck together, trail riding the whole lap, making sure we'd get round. In fact, we were actually just making sure we didn't hour out, the closing marshalls were catching up with us and at one point I think the Clerk of the Course thought they'd lost us two! It was an amazing feeling to get to the end, we were both completely destroyed by the relentless course but it taught me a valuable lesson in never giving up and digging deep to earn a finish.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to this year's edition, I hope I won't find it as hard this time round! I'll be in the Clubman class this time round, but I haven't ridden in 3 months so that will make things interesting! Bring it on.