Red Kite Enduro
Halfway - 24th April
Photo & Report by Bob Mullins
The Welsh Trail Riders Association held their Red Kite Enduro in the Halfway Forest near Llandovery on Easter Sunday. The event included the 3rd round of the ACU Twinshock Championship. The old bikes brought with them a sense of nostalgia & one of the long hot sunny days of our childhood.
There were 3 riders in the Championship class. Steve Plain lent Andrew Edwards a GasGas 250 - most of which he got back, Andy Frost was on a YZ250 and Craig Reynolds rode a KTM 250. A third of the entry were Veteran riders which probably means something to somebody. The riders list had been slow to fill but the good weather had resulted in a late surge.
The lap was 12 miles with one out check. The start at Halfway is excellent with a large area of handstanding and a spectacular view of the Welsh countryside. The schedule was 7 laps for Championship and Experts, 6 laps for Clubman and 5 laps for Sportsman. The race started at 10.00am. After a loop around the farm, the course dropped down a gully and across a cooling ford. Mark Molineux was riding a concourse Puch Figareo 350. It gave Mark the authentic retro experience when the clutch cable lining squeezed through the hole in the crankcase and he had to fashion a clip out of fence wire. Unfortunately the repair was only temporary and Mark had to puch. The head bolts on Ian Spence's Husquvarna WR 500 worked themselves loose. With 4 out of 4 mechanical DNF's, Ian's Husky is drinking in the last chance saloon.
A slightly tilted arrow meant that several riders missed out a loop before the test on the first couple of laps and they arrived early at the out check. Andy Frost and Patsy Quick also took a wrong turn and almost rode the loop twice. Patsy has recovered well after breaking her collarbone at Bagshot in February.
The test mostly consisted of the right of way that runs alongside the Babel to the Airstrip road. It is popular with mountain bikers and the crisscross network of narrow ruts was an unusual challenge for the Enduro bike riders. On his 2nd lap Julian Crimp felt that his front wheel bearings were braking up but when he checked he found that the wheel nut was undone. Julian was lucky to spot the problem at the out check where Ian Spence - with a well stocked toolkit - was waiting for a tow.
After the outcheck the course dropped onto a fast sandy track and crossed the valley by one of WTRA own steel bridges. There were 2 loops that climbed and descended the eastern slope. On one line the trees were planted progressively closer together. The riders exited the Halfway just below Dixie's corner and rode along the MOD driving course - the Water Splashes. In the past the riders would have been faced with the tricky choice of riding through the water or chancing the boggy ground on the side but after weeks of dry weather - the water was low and the bogs were hard. The only real problem was the dust although Alex Green from Dudley found enough water to drowned his KTM EXC 250. Adrian Potter also came to grief when he tried a late maneuver to avoid a deep hole. He got crossed rutted and snapped his bars.
By lap 3 it became clear that the Championship class would lose time in the dusty conditions and in the interests of safety the organisers decided to reduce the lap by cutting out two loops. Andrew Edwards - minus a headlight - was the overall winner and Craig Reynolds was the runner up. Andy Frost's chain snapped. He had a spare link but he dropped 2 minute. Gary Jenkins was the best of the Experts with a test time total only 3 seconds off the winner. Jack Lee was 2nd and Paul Herbert was 3rd. Calvin Williams won the Expert Vets and Neil Williams won the Clubman Vets. There was less than 2 seconds between them. 2 seconds, 2 classes? Carl Davies from Newbridge was the best of the Clubman ahead of Lee Green and Craig Thomas. Jason Fraser (right) from Truro won the Twinshocks on a Husqvarna WR250. Dave Brick was the runner up on a Suzuki RM 250 - despite losing his kickstart. Herman Ostroznik was the best of the Sportsman. Lee Bushel from Swansea set some cracking times on his 4 tests but he dropped 4 minutes on the going. Charlie Trew was the runner up and Mike Jones was 3rd. Alan Clarke did well to finish in 8th place at 65 years of age. In fact over 80% of the entry finished clean on time. Well done to the WTRA team
3 months (almost) of anticipation since the Snowrun, were not in vain as WTRA’s Red Kite enduro proved to be every bit as good as expected. Hardstanding in the start area, a brilliant course and glorious sunshine make for a happy Veteran. A short but fun special test ridden five times would have been the decider between the Team Charfield riders if it wasn’t for Clarkey’s pussyfooting through the big water splash on lap two, which meant that the 300XC didn’t complete the voyage and had to be pushed out. Thirty minutes, two sparkplugs, one carb draining and one air filter removal later, the mighty KTM sparked back into life and normal service was resumed.
In a departure from convention, WTRA had arranged for the times on each check to stay the same throughout, while shortening the length of the course each lap. Combined with the dry course, this meant that it was easy to stay on time and no chance for Clarkey to get back in contention. Having been crucified in the Charfield Championship so far this year, Flipper chose Easter Sunday to resurrect his chances by taking a win and moving the scores to 3-1. All he has to do now is win both days at the BEC round up t’north to level the series before we go to the Powys.
The Welsh Trail Riders Association returned to the Halfway Forest near Llandovery on Sunday 4th April for the 2nd running of the Red Kite Enduro. The event was limited to 100 riders & the cancellation of the Lossiemouth BEC resulted in a late surge that ensured a full entry. The 14 mile lap was a reverse of last year's course & it was divided into 2x7 mile stages with the test on the inbound leg. The weather was cool & dry but the driver training course was wet. The Championship class had 6 laps, Experts 5 laps, Clubman 4 laps & sportsman 3 laps. After a sighting run on the first lap, all the tests were timed.
Andrew Edwards & Craig Reynolds led the riders off at 10.00am. In recent years WTRA's notorious Beacons has become a trail run whilst the Red Kite has developed into a tough forestry enduro. Watching some of the sportsman depart from the start with their indicators & big number plates it was difficult not to conclude that there was still a bit of confusion. One rider who knew exactly what to expect was #121 Bob Hamilton - both he & his Suzuki PE175 were probably riding around the Halfway in the early 80s.
From the quarry the riders climbed & then clambered over the ridge to the Driver Training Course on the Eppynt. Riding up the DTC means that the water splashes are more of a surprise. #85 Paul May, #87 Andy Baxter & #89 Lee Cross were very surprised. They entered together, they rode together & they sank together. The toughest part of the course was the second half of the test. It felt a bit like looking for the quickest queue at Tesco's. Andrew Edwards was in the "10 items or less" line while Tyson Maytom-Jones (right) got stuck behind a granny with a purse full of vouchers.
By the end of the first lap, all the bikes & riders were well pebbledashed with mud with the exception of Wyn Hughes who still looked flesh as a daisy. Gary Jenkins' trials background had prepared him well & he had plenty of time to chat to his family at the check. Sidecar driver #111 Aled Evans was on a solo for a change but he still kept shouting for Iwan to lean further out on the corners. Daniel Thomas on the KTM 690 R retired but he will be back for the Beacons in August. Bob Hamilton also did a lap of honour on the PE before retiring. Leighton Roberts' 3 month old EXC 200 seized & let him down for the 5 time. Look out for a bargain on the For Sale page. Andrew Jones went out when he lost his rear brake fluid. After 4 laps, Steve Biddle fitted a new set of rear pads. Steve guessed the pads wouldn't last but he didn't want to waste them. They say that oil & water don't mix but Mick Mills' KTM crank was just the tool to do the job. Noel Fletcher was lucky that an eagle eyed scrutineer spotted his rear wheel nut was hanging on by a thread. Unfortunately Noel's luck didn't last as he went out on his last lap.
Andrew Edwards won the Premier from Manchester Extreme's Craig Reynolds. Neil Thomas was the best Expert & Gary Jenkins was the runner up. Midwest's Tyson Maytom-Jones was 3rd. Brothers Dan & Ben Bishop kept each other company to finish 4th & 5th. Wyn Hughes won the Expert Vets ahead of Calvin Williams. Anthony Moore from Coleford was the best Club Vet & tyre man Paul Green was the runner up. The Clubman class took a big hit with 50% retirements but Ade Deeley kept a clean card to take the win & Michael Jones was 2nd. There were 2 types of Sportsman - the quick & the dead. 50% finished clean & 50% retired after the first lap. Thanks to WTRA for once again investing their Winter fuel allowances into putting on another cracking event. Results Photos Gary Jones Keith Davies Mike Davies
On Sunday 19th July, the old boys of the Welsh Trail Riders returned to the Halfrway forest for the first time in nearly 30 years. Following the Snowrun in 1982, a timber processing plant was built in the quarry area & the club had to move their start several miles into the North Crychan. A couple of years ago the plant was demolished leaving a good area of hard standing & opening up the possibility of a new event - the Red Kite Enduro
The Halfway is a steeply sloping valley on the border of the Eppynt Army ranges. The course was approximately 15 miles per lap with 4 laps for Sportsman, 5 laps for Clubman/Veterans & 6 laps for Championship/Expert. The Special test zig-zaggged up the Northwestern slope of the valley to the Airstrip & the inward stage ran along the Eppynt Driver Training course. There was only one check per lap. The weather was good for setting up on Saturday but a succession of heavy showers blew in overnight & continued to drench the forest on Sunday. The event attracted a small entry of 70 riders & - worryingly for the future - 50% were Veterans.
Gas Gas Uk's Ashley Wood was the sole Championship rider. His smile was a little broader than usual following the announcement of his ISDE selection. He had more to smile about after cleaning 6 laps & winning the event although his test times are a vivid indication of the deterioration of the course due to the weather. He rode the first test in 220 seconds & the fourth test iin 331 seconds. Neil Thomas was the best Expert from Steve Biddle. Neil Williams won the Veterans with a clean card from Paul Sagar who dropped a minute. Some of the Vets may have entered the event by mistake - confusing it with the rally of the same name. As the weather worsened they recognised the error & two third retired. David Clack (right) was the best of the Clubman from runner up Llewellyn Pavey. Llewellyn's dad Simon kept his son company right to the end on his beemer. Results - Photos
Next year the club plans to run the event at Easter. Good time card enduros are a rare breed & this Red Kite deserves to be preserved - hopefully for a sunnier day.