Now, Wales in October isn't where I would normally go to see the sun, and with the intermittent deluges on the drive down, I still didn't expect 2 days of rides in glorious weather. The trails at Pembrey were in ace condition and the sighting lap revealed a loop that gave plenty of interest and a bit of everything from a stretch on the beach, doubletrack and twisty singletrack, soft sand and roots, and also made me change my mind on gearing as the stretch on the beach was relatively short and some of the climbs sharp. Racing kicked off at 2pm with a frantic first few laps that included an unexpected detour on lap one and a mix if skinny & fat tired bikes. Things soon sorted themselves out as the trails suited the mountain bikes more than the crossers. Carwyn Davies had pulled a gap out front, and I was gradually gapping the other soloists.
The nice chaps at Jersey Pocket had sent through a selection of Eat bars for the race and these were going down well. One small glitch with a lost bottle caused a wobble about 3 hours in, but with only a sub-20 minute lap was quickly sorted. The simple flavours are great as they are not overpowering, and the bars are easily washed down with a swig of drink.
The Lauf forks were working a treat, especially in combination with the Nextie carbon rims and 27.5+ tyres, helping keep any upper body fatigue at bay and also meaning some of the more sketchy corners could be hit faster and tighter with the up-front grip.
The gap to Carwyn gradually opened up to 6+ minutes, but he was too strong to catch and it stayed that way to the finish, even with my desperate attempt to get another lap in at the end, but only to miss the cut-off by a minute!. I’m now looking forward to racing against him again up at Fort William in 4 weeks time… where the pace may be more at my level!
Sunday gave me a chance to take the RussTi to Afan for some slightly different trails and to loosen the legs up after Saturday’s race. A quick lap of the Wall and Blue Scar trails was awesome in the sunshine and filled me with confidence for the trip up to Scotland. The swoopy bermed descent on the Blue Scar trail was a nice way to end the ride - lots of speed and the sound of tyres scrabbling for grip in the berms... Bring on Fort William!