The Howies Dyfi Enduro is a mountain bike event with a difference, entry includes camping in the centre of Machynleth and coincides with the annual comedy festival, unsurprisingly with entertainment and beer on tap the event has traditionally attracted a strong Melyd contingent
The ride itself offers a mix of forests and open moorland comprising 60k of challenging climbs(1900-2100m) and technical descents….nicely mixing exposed slate bedrock, roots, puddles and slippery mud, with the loose shale a local speciality
Every year sees mountain bikers poised over their computers on a Sunday evening early in February, refreshing the screen every few seconds waiting anxiously for the entry portal for this event to go live, last years event sold out in 7 minutes
This years online entry was even worse than usual with the site crashing immediately then later re-opening, the upshot of this agonizing process was that the usual suspects managed to bag an entry except for Chis lord…….not the best event for a technophobe!
As the weather forecast was so bad this year we decided to eschew the camping option and stay in an old farmhouse near Aberdovey….definitely a wise move, as was the 11.30 taxi back on the Saturday night as with the band playing and the way the beer was flowing it could easily have been a very late one!
Race day started well enough with a cracking farmhouse cooked breakfast but the predicted rain arrived by 8.am and didn’t let up all day, the inclement weather coupled with some sore heads meant enthusiasm was lower than usual as we deliberated on how many layers of Gore-tex would be required!
At the start we hooked up with Danny who’d driven down for his first Dyfi and nervously awaited the off, with 1200 riders to accommodate the peleton follows a lead car through town for a few miles, with the streets lined by cheering locals you soon get fired up and the pace was pretty high, soon slowing for some on the first of the long fire road climbs when the race enters the forest.
We all have a target for this event, Paul wanted to win (and beat Jason) Dan wanted to beat Jason, Heddwyn wanted to get back before dark, I wanted to be amongst the first 250 riders who make the cut off to do an extra loop…and survive the descents
Despite the conditions camaraderie is always a highlight of this event and the organisers go to some lengths to raise a smile including a bar handing out free beer towards the end! The rain meant that the usual ska band and cheerleaders were missing but the zombies in the wood dishing out Haribos were fun, although riding through someone’s front room was a bit weird…sorry about the mud on the carpet!
Paul had a puncture nightmare which meant I caught him just before the halfway feed station, Danny reached halfway just as i was leaving, enjoying the event despite suffering with cramp, Paul soon caught and passed me and I pressed on aiming for the cut off…..though secretly thinking if I missed it and had to do the shorter route I wouldn’t object too much! Despite this I was chuffed to be inside the time and channelled into the extra loop….all cyclists have a touch of masochism in them!
After a few more mile of climbing treacly forest roads came the last descent which was a properly slippery mudfest popping you out on a gravel road for a short sprint over the timing mat for your official time.(posted below) However the route then takes you on some winding lumpy back lanes into town and back on to the campsite for the actual finish and your well deserved Howies mug.
P.S to give you an idea of how wet and muddy it was Danny’s riding kit weighed half a stone after the event…yuck! and after two showers I,m still finding mud in my ears
*Winner Nick Craig 2.27…..never heard of him!
3hr 11min 43 / Jase – 1st place fatbike / attention whore
3hr 31min 43 / Dan
3hr 52min 12 / Paul
3hr 59min 43 / Justin
4 hr 10min 38 / Danny
4hr 37min 52 / Heddwyn