The Welsh 2 Day experience is over for another year. The months of preparation, mails, texts, phone calls and ‘ride near’ requests came to a head this week when the ‘Welsh’ rolled into Llandrindod again. This year, social media played a big part in the build up as key figures in the town posted welcoming messages to the event, its 500 riders (and 40 passengers) and the supporters, service crews and spectators.
The rain did its level best to disrupt things as a very wet and soft common remained unsuitable for camping, making those staying in vans, campers and caravans look elsewhere for a piece of solid ground. The local camping sites welcomed them with open arms.
This year, because of traffic problems between Abbeycwmhir and Saint’s Well (to avoid problems for residents) the Abbey test was dropped. Stepping back in is the Cwmythig Hill test, courtesy of Rhayader & DMCC.
The work done by assistant clerk of the course, Bob Jones means that the popular section over the hills following the Crossgates test remained, with a very short section of road to Llandegley then a hill check over to the Radnor forest.
There was a chance for service at Fishpools where a funnelled service area will allow service before and after the 20 mile Radnor check. The riders then headed over through Bleddfa and an off road ride to Gravel, before the extended Beacon Hill check. This proved to be hugely popular, with riders fully appreciating the natural beauty of mid Wales as they wove their way across the hiss, watched by the landowners who so generously welcomed the event.
Riders then headed into the Red Lion and down to Saint’s Well for service and test 2. There was a 20 minute ride after this to a short and sharp blast in the Waun forest. That was followed by another relaxed check over the bogs to Glenyravon and a run down the road to Cwmythig.
At the third test, service could be undertaken before or after the test, then a short run back before the final off road check, a 13.5 miler to Esgairwy let the riders head back for Llandod.
Service crews again found the compact route of 130 miles with only (19 miles of road work) to their liking. It is possible to visit every service area for a total of around 50 miles. The layout also means that two-way traffic was minimised.
The first test at Church Farm, Crossgates was very soft, the first sidecars also found the going slippery. David Williams from Llanidloes and passenger Simon Brown lit up the test with a time just over 4 minutes, seven seconds (sounds like a song!) ahead of Dan Lawry and Nick Morgan who were .24 of a second ahead of Alun Davies and James Ferguson.
In the expert sidecar class, Gethin and Matthew Price from Builth Wells led a close competition, and the clubman sidecar crews were led by Andy Scrivens and Martin Lawford of Bristol.
Given the conditions, the Sportsman class were excused the challenge of Church Farm, as in the past a wet first test has decimated this class, which is made up of mainly social riders.
The collapse of a spectator, and subsequent airlift by ambulance mean that the classic and clubman classes also missed the test which restarted with the hotly contested expert veteran class. Paul Davies from Neath set the bar at a fraction over four minutes, with Anthony Griffiths and Jason Rees very close in second and third.
In the expert class, Adam James on the event sponsor’s bike set a very fast time followed by another Rhayader rider, Alex Walton but it was the Llandrindod rider Shaun Buchan that won the first test of the day. This was a battle that went all the way over the two days.
In the championship class, current World Championship E3 class leader Steve Holcombe started the defence of his 2015 win with a blisteringly quick time. Jack Edmondson, leading the Enduro Youth World Championship class chased Holcombe hard with Jamie Lewis on the Yamaha Off Road Experience WR450 closely following.
The Radnor check was a full 20 miles, and many riders felt they had a serious work out with some big downhills challenging the riders nerves. The Beacon check then allowed riders to regain their breath before the run up through Red Lion forest to the Saint’s Well test.
Sportsman and clubman riders rode their first test here, with a great variety of going, fields, woods and MX track combining to test out the rider’s skills. Setting the pace in the Sportsman class was Rhodri Gardner of Llanwrda, one of a host of Dyfed Dirt Bike club riders.
Steven Finch of Essex set the fastest time in the clubman classic class on the test at Saint’s Well and Cwmythig Hill, but the loss of five minutes handed the class lead to the DDBC chairman Cefin Evans on his KDX250.
Andrew Edwards and David Brick had a battle for the classic expert class with Andrew coming out on top, but a broken kickstarter on the Maico meant Andrew rode his Beta on day two and the MAico is for sale!
In the clubman veteran class, BEC regular Paul Armstrong led the class home from Michael Wood and Gregory Simon. The younger riders (sorry vet. riders!) in the Clubman E1 class found the pace being set by the E1 riders. With Chris Smith, Katie Walker and Luke Thomas leading the big clubman class.
The Expert riders continued to set some rapid times and the championship riders, doing Saint’s Well and Cwmythig Hill twice each. It was Holcombe’s day all the way as he won each test. Joe Wooton riding a Freestyle Husky 450 rounded out the top three behind Holcombe and Jack Eddy. It was good to see Joe back on the pace after the long recovery after his ISDE leg break.
There weren’t many clean and shiny bikes in the parc ferme overnight on the Thursday, but some very happy riders who had enjoyed a good day’s riding.
An early start on day 2 saw the first test of the day disrupted with another appearance of the air ambulance for sidecar passenger Alun Evans who thankfully was not as seriously hurt as first thought. Get well soon Alun and all riders who picked up injuries.
The weather decided to play a few cards through the day, with occasional but heavy showers making the going entertaining for the riders. The final test at Church Farm once again saw a huge crowd of spectators enjoying the rider’s efforts rounded off by a master class from the championship riders on how to ride wet and muddy conditions. Joe Wooton won a couple of tests earlier in the day but had to give best to Holcombe as the West Country Beta rider won the last two tests to underline his second consecutive victory.
The evening presentation was well attended and were treated to a new ‘double act’ of Tom Sagar and Adam Rees whose compering proved lively and entertaining to round off a very successful couple of days.
The organisers would like to thank the town of Llandrindod Wells, the landowners and authorities, the marshals and workers, the riders and service crews and the loyal band of spectators who all helped make the event a great advert for British enduro sport.
Pics, courtesy of Gary Jones Rally Photos
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