BLOG – A WELSH 2-DAY ENDURO FIRST TIMER
The Welsh 2 Day Enduro is Britain’s biggest enduro. Simply put you can’t call yourself an enduro rider in the UK until you’ve rode the Welsh. Joining the 499 other riders on the start line in Llandrindod Wells in the heart of Wales, Enduro21 sent Andreas Glavas for two days of Welsh enduro action…
As the biggest off-road event in the UK the Welsh Two Day Enduro annually sees 500 competitors take it to the start. And for good reason – an uninterrupted 130-mile lap each day. For any enduro that’s pretty impressive but considering that The Welsh – as the locals call it – is a mid week event ran on a Thursday and Friday makes it all the more special. The event is an annual sell-out and an annual favourite for many European riders.
To find out what makes the race so enjoyable, I decided to enter. I figured I might as well start at the top, so my first ever enduro on British soil – I’m from Greece but living and working in the UK now for Enduro21 – was the 2015 ET James Welsh Two day Enduro. My ride for the event – our brand new KTM 300 EXC long termer.
The Welsh Two Day Enduro has a wide reaching reputation. Even for someone like myself, coming from as far away as Greece, I’m well aware of the prestigious nature of the event. The event has a huge reputation for attracting a wide range of riders and for rewarding them with some highly enjoyable riding across 130 miles of Welsh enduro terrain.
There’s no shortage of options when it comes to selecting what class to compete in. You actually have a class for every rider, seemingly for every bike. There are the sportsmen, the clubmen, the over 40, the over 50, the experts, the champions and even the crazy sidecar racers. As a first timer, I decided to join the clubmen E3 class.
It turned out that the set of hills surrounding Llandrindod Wells make up for an ideal enduro playground, especially when the weather is fairly dry as was the case this year. The forest roads did get a bit dusty with that many competitors but then again most time checks weren’t tight at all. I could choose when and if I wanted to push on. The event’s headquarters were set around a small lake – certainly a unique setting for an enduro event.
Instantly the vibe and atmosphere of the race had me hooked. Ok, the unusual sunny Welsh weather was definitely a nice touch but it was clear to see that the majority of those riding were real enduro enthusiasts. Some were racing for a podium result but the majority simply wanted to try to put their riding skills to the test and have a good time doing it. You don’t have to be a pro to finish the race. You just dust off your bike, fit new tyres and crack on.
It’s a relaxed affair and with some of the time checks offering lots of time it was really cool to reach the end of a stage and sit chatting in the sun with the guys you’d just rode the last 20 miles with.
It’s hard to imagine where you could spend so much time on your bike in such varied terrain as the Welsh’s 130-mile lap. In my case, riding a brand new 2016 KTM 300 EXC gave plenty of reasons to smile over the two days. Fitted with a set of new Michelin tires, this beast of low rpm torque ate up the event’s liaison sections with ease.
Day one started with a typical enduro test with a tricky river crossing, then there was a motocross test with small jumps. The day concluded with a grass field test. Added to that was a tonne of great forest riding. Day two saw the course run in the reverse direction. On the morning of day two light rain made the first special test quite challenging. There was a tight racing line offering some traction, but putting my wheels on the darker grass was hugely challenging for someone used to dry, dusty Greek terrain. Dealing with the ‘slippery’ conditions was the greatest challenge of the event for me.
Red dirt forest sections, tiny single-trails with plenty of ruts and holes, high-speed gravel roads on top of the hills, stony tracks, some more tricky ruts, you name it… The Welsh Two Day Enduro gave all of us who raced a serious amount of riding time over varied terrain. I think the greatest success with the race is that it posed the right challenge for any kind of rider. Either you’re giving your best on the special tests or trying to make it to the finish without penalties. In my case it was a little on both. Every rider’s goal is different. What I realised is that’s what, in part, makes the Welsh so special…