Race Report from Welsh Enduro Round 1 Foel Gasnac- Neil Halcrow

Foel Gasnac is a small patch of woodland in North Wales with 4 technical, steep and Rooty downhill tracks, and had never been raced before for a Enduro, so this was a a bit of a tester for the venue to see if the enduro concept could work for Enduro. 3 out of the 4 tracks were used for the Enduro including 2 of the steepest track in the forest and one slightly tamer track but littered with roots and multiple lines. The format was to race all 3 track twice, transitioning up the uplift road every time to get to the top of the stages.
I was at a slight home advantage with Foel Gasnac being our local downhill training area only 20 mins from my house, but with almost a week of rain on the lead up to the event and heavy down pours on the Saturday, not to mention 250 riders skidding their way down the tracks this was not going to be a walk in the park for the local lads.
Practice on the Saturday was extremely wet, we managed to get 5 runs in late Saturday afternoon, and the tracks were running really well, the strange thing with Foel is that the wetter it gets and due to the steep terrain the water flows off the roots and rocks adding more grip, so I was confident 6 clean runs would put me in good placing on race day.
Race day was lovely and sunny, but unfortunately this meant that the mud had started to dry and become claggy, so every root was covered in a film of clay mud, making it extremely tricky to hold the practised lines, plus with so many riders practising in the morning the stages had got very chewed up, with stage 2 in particular becoming a bog on a freshly cut section.
Race runs went ok, few little dabs after coming off line slightly over greasy root sections on stages 1 and 3, with a nightmare of a stage on the 2nd run of stage 3 where I came off track, luckily didn't crash but lost time putting myself and bike back on track. Strangely Stage 2 which was the worst and steepest track was actually my best runs, 2 solid clean runs, even hitting the high line to cut a awkward hairpin out worked a treat.
Personally I was hoping to be in the top 10 in Masters for this race but ended up just outside in 12th but with seconds separating the riders this was a tight race, and seeing so many crashes I was happy to come away without injury and still in the mix the mix with the fast riders of my category, plus with Round 2 being at Coed-y-Brenin then hopefully I can make up some places up in the Series.
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Russell Prodger