Report: Scott Bugden
Photography: Scott Bugden
Stand-out rides from youngsters Alex Welburn (Forme Bikes) and Dylan Kerfoot-Robson (Rhos-on-Sea CC) capped a challenging day’s racing at Round 2 of the Welsh Mountain Bike Series in Coed-y-Brenin Forest Park on Sunday.
Alex Welburn (Forme Bikes) takes the win in the elite category.
Following several notable performances in all categories, a small but high quality field started the elite, junior, masters and expert men’s races in the afternoon, an action-packed climax to the day’s racing.
A very controlled and fast race from Welburn saw him clinch the win in the elite category, not without a sigh of relief from himself and the crowds gathered to watch, when in the final lap his rear mech failed, forcing him to run to the finish.
In the junior category, a storming start from Kerfoot-Robson saw him catch the back of the elite field in the first half lap, despite starting a minute behind them. The junior rider continued to cut through the elite field, at one point looking like he was going to catch Welburn, but he was eventually delayed by a mechanical failure.
It was a very noteworthy result given the course, which is similar to the 2012 Welsh Championships at the same venue, comprising roots, drops, rocks, twists and tight turns which proved both technically and physically demanding. It includes the grisly climb up “pins and needles,” a deeply technical section that the designer, Scott Bugden, believes is one of the most technical cross-country climbs in the UK.
The course was technically and physically demanding.
The course didn’t trouble Jonny Pugh (Cycle-Tec), who was like a metronome at the front of the Master’s race producing four laps within 18 seconds of each other to take the win from Phil Morris (XCRacer) and Grant Leavy (Urban Cycling RT).
In the Expert category, Dexter Hurlock (Mondraker UK) built an early lead before succumbing to mechanical problems on his second lap and losing over six minutes. Incredibly, he fixed his bike to produce two outstanding laps, just enough to catch and pass Scott Clipstone (AW Cycles) on the final lap and win by just under 30 seconds. James Sanford (Velo Schils-Interbike RT) took the last step on the podium.
Conditions could hardly have been more different to the rain-soaked mud-fest that was Round 1 at Margam Park just three weeks ago.
Clear blue skies and bright sunshine were the order of the weekend, and with the last few weeks having been predominantly dry, trail conditions were like summer, albeit a chilly breeze which persisted in keeping temperatures not far above freezing for most of the day – much to test the Commissaires and marshals as the riders.
Several cadets from Minden Company, Clwyd & Gwynedd Army Cadet Force helped to marshal
Hardened to the chill, solid rides were delivered in the women’s categories, with local rider, Alwen Williams (Antur Stiniog) taking the win from Ruby Miller (Torq) and Sarah Barnwell.
Behind them, the Vets and Grand Vets provided the biggest field of the day, with Lee Hayward (Southfork Racing) sealing the Vets win ahead of Roy Davies (Team Elite) and Gareth Payne.
In the Grand Vets, Peter Turnbull (Gateway RT) prevailed, and the podium line-up proved a repeat of Round 1 with Grant Johnson (Sunset Cycles) in second and Matt Scrase (mtbmarathon.co.uk) in third.
Stuart Reid improved considerably in the Sport Male category, moving from third place at Round 1 two weeks’ ago to take the win at Coed-y-Brenin where the technical course clearly suits his riding.
The younger categories, youth’s and juveniles, set off together.
Youth rider Oliver Lowthorpe (Jersey Cycling Association) travelled from Jersey to compete and was duly rewarded for his fine effort with a win in the Youth Boys, followed across the line 50 seconds later by the Juvenile Boys’ winner Tom Nesham (Cardiff Jif).
In the girls categories, Ffion James won comfortably in Youth as did Jessica Roberts in Juvenile.
As always, racing also comprised Under 8’s, Under 10’s and Under 12’s events in the morning. The turnout impressed race organiser, Scott Bugden, who designed the course in conjunction with event partners, Fully Sussed, and said that healthy numbers are a positive indicator for sustaining the Series in the long-term.
“There was some great racing on what was a tough course for the younger riders, but the smiles afterwards showed how much they enjoyed it,” he said. “Over 40 riders competed in the three age categories with a good mix of girls and boys and from a host of different clubs. It’s a great sign for the future.”
Dylan Kerfoot-Robson, junior race winner, receives Ultimate Sports Nutrition (USN) prizes
Prizes for Senior and Junior Male categories were supplied by Official Nutrition Partner of Welsh Cycling, Ultimate Sports Nutrition (USN). Women’s-specific prizes were provided by designer and manufacturer AnaNichoola, with Beics Brenin supplying the Under 16 categories.
Commissaires included Liz Slater and Ian Jenkins, and marshalling support came from local cadets from Minden Company, Clwyd and Gwynedd Army Cadet Force, all out in force to man the course.
“Thanks go to all of the sponsors for the day, including USN, who provided prizes, Jay and Maddie from Fully Sussed and all the volunteers who stepped up to support,” added Scott.
“It was a great day of racing, helped by the lovely weather and the great venue. Beics Brenin were also busy at the store in the Coed y Brenin visitor centre fixing riders’ bikes and making last-minute adjustments so I’m sure the riders would also say a big thank you to them.”
Overall series standings will be confirmed this week with an update on who is leading the race for the overall prize of a family stay at Trawsfynydd Holiday Village. Remember, the prize could go to a rider from any category.
Round 3, the next of the Welsh Mountain Bike Series, takes place in Builth Wells on Sunday, 21 April following a less technical but fast and enjoyable course.
A course preview will be available shortly, so get your entries in now.