The 2011 Snowrun
Report & photos by Bob Mullins
There was a real Caribbean atmosphere to the 2011 Snowrun as the Gulf Stream deposited a large proportion of it onto Mid Wales. All credit to the stalwarts of the Welsh Trail Riders Association who faced torrential rain and gales to lay out the course and the bleak weather was no better on race day. With gusts of wind up to 50 mph the start tent needed some heavy weights to hold it down, Thanks to Mike, Bob and Ray. At least it was warm for February and so was the competition. 6 Championship riders were entered including 3 previous winners. 2005 and 2006 premier Tom Sagar was on the Fast Eddy Racing.com KTM 450 and he loves the tough Welsh forests. John Hinam was riding his KTM for the last time before switching to Husaberg. He was hoping to repeat his 2008 win but last year's winner Gethin Price always does well in the wet. The 2011 Snowrun was the first round of the new ACU Twinshock Championship and 7 classic machines were lined up in the parc ferme.
From the start the riders tackled 2 long naggery sections connected by forestry roads before crossing the Tirabad road and entering the Crychan at the Cattle Grid. Clerk of the Course Phil Wilkinson had taped off a turn on the left which would have been a tough climb on the day. The ground around the Cortina is permanently wet and it soon began to cut up but there plenty of time for a breather past Five Roads and up Scrach. There was an interesting climb over the chippings in the Old Snowrun Quarry. Ian Spence's 1978 Gori got stuck in 1st but he was able to carry on down the long straight and across the bridge at Bob Stick to Check 1. With a well stocked bumbag and some old fashioned technology Ian was able to replace his gear selector spring. Unfortunately veteran Paul Callard's bumbag did not contain any knobbles. Paul's WR was fitted with a trail rear tyre and he did well to get to Check 1.but the smell of Chris Lee's stew bubbling in the pot filled Paul with thoughts of Sunday lunch and home.
From Check 1 the riders crossed the valley and climbed the ridge by the Sand Quarry to a steep descent over thrashings. The first of the 2 tests began at the Beeches near the top of the Swimbath. There are several tracks lined with beech trees in the Crychan and WTRA used all 3 of them. For many riders their abiding memory of the 2011 Snowrun will be that "it was a beech". Steve Plain and his team did their best to keep the test course flowing as the going deteriorated. Craig Beattie wasn't too sure which was his best side for the camera so he went for the high side. The course exited the Crychan at the Picnic site and dropped down to the second test in Glyn Saer before the riders climbed onto the rocky sunken road - Cefn Ludlow. The right of way has been churned up recently and to the muddy going was added the extra challenge of 4 clowns in 4x4 exercised their right to be morons and drive again the course. There were 4 laps for the Championship and the Expert, 3 laps for the Clubman and Vets, 2 laps for the Sportsmen.
Despite his share of crashes Tom Sagar (right) won all 6 tests to take the Premier ahead of a grazed Jon Hinam. Andy Frost was 3rd with a clean card and Craig Reynolds finish 4th after dropping 6 minutes. Gethin Price retired after a heavy crash. Matt Ridgway also retired. He had a late entry to practise on forestry going ahead of next week's British Enduro Sprint Championship. Unfortunately he lost his grip on the race when he lost a grip off his bars. Gethin Humphrey's set the fastest test time of the day to win the Experts and Aled Jones was the runner up. David Lloyd Jones had an engine failure at the end of lap 2. Ian Barnett won the Evpert Vets ahead of Paul Davies. Anthony Hobbs pick up a painful eye injury when he split a lid. Graham Howes was lucky not be injured when 2 out of 4 of his handle bar bolts snapped. Richard Perkins was the best Clubman and Matthew Willey was the runner up. Frazer White was 3rd. Leighton Roberts was of several riders who ran out of pads. Michael Williams was going well until he lost his wheel nut at the start of the last lap. Neil Thomas won the Clubman Vets from Gary Newman. Dave Love lost his gearbox on the first lap. Dave Brick on a PE 250 was the best of the Twinshocks ahead of Jason Fraser on a Husqvarna WR250. Jason could have taken the top slot but he dropped 20pts when the Husky refused to fire in the morning. They both kept on time and 5 out of the twinshock starters finished the day. Sadly Ian Spence had to retire when the exhaust on his Gori broke free
After the event Tom Sagar said the he enjoyed the ride despite the wet conditions and he looked forward to riding a British Championship in the Crychan in the future. Audio
Team Charfield – Gary Clarke and Flipper Kingston
2010 brought an uncanny run of dry weather events for Team Charfield, with the entire Charfield championship being run without the need for bin liners. If the Snowrun is anything to go by, 2011 is going to be a lot wetter. Crossing the Severn bridge at 0700 left behind the dry and mild day enjoyed by southern England and replaced it with pissing-down rain that hardly let up all day. Unbowed, Team Charfield dug out the cheapo collection of 10 year-old waterproofs bought from Pete Edmondson’s bargain bin and prepared to enjoy themselves. Clearly, the WTRA crew has moved on from the sadistic route-planning that used to blight a wet Snowrun in the mid-noughties and the course was (for the most part) superb.
Lap 1 was doable on time for Charfield’s top rider, Gary Clarke, but Flipper Kingston hit a stump while flat out in third on check 2 that saw him make a trademark aerial dismount and judo roll. After ten minutes lying down (with thanks to the unknown rider who stopped and made sure that it wasn’t as bad as it looked) he managed slink back to the start area via the fire roads for an early finish. Lap 2 got a bit tougher as the soft bits cut up but lap 3 was the killer. Clarkey managed to wedge the awesome XC300 in one of the giant ruts on check 1 and lost time. The second special test was a complete quagmire, but the handy swimbath section at the end of the lap meant that most of the mud stayed in Wales. Driving home via Tirabad, two thoughts were prominent:1/ If you looked up ‘bleak’ in the dictionary, there should be a picture of this scene on the Eppynt ranges 2/ Must enter the Red kite rally so we can ride the Eppynt again.