It's finally here! More exciting than Christmas, this weekend sees the now legendary Dyfi Enduro roll into Machynlleth.
Started in 2001 "The Dyfi" pre-dates the fashionable gravity enduros buy ten years, but unlike Cross Country races, the course stretches for many miles, rather than laps. Often imitated but never bettered, the event sells out instantly each year and brings a thousand riders to our town.
Although unlike to trouble the front-runners, Dave has ridden the event from year dot and rides the trails weekly. Here are his tips for a great day out:
1. Fix you bike. Now.
Each year I'm amazed by how many bikes I see on stands with hubs in pieces and brakes plumbed into bleed kits with minutes to go before the start. Get it sorted now and start the day relaxed.
2. Fit decent tyres.
Sharp slate bedrock shows no mercy, so ditch those featherlight race skins and slap on some decent rubber. I'm not talking double-ply DH tread, but thicker rubber will pay you back with greater puncture resistance. While you're fitting them, make sure you go tubeless. If the slate slashes don't get you, the snakebites will. Crank up the pressures and take spare inner tubes too.
3. Feed and hydrate well.
A good meal the night before, and a decent breakfast make all the difference on a long day. Everyone has their preferences, but the porridge followed by eggs on brown toast seems to fuel me well before the event, and tactical Nutra-grain bars keep me going to the feed station. Chugging plenty of water before the start means carrying less, which is nice.
4. Dress for success
If you're shivering on the start-line, you'll be fine on the route. Usually. It was snowing all morning here in Corris so I'd check the weather and definitely pack a jacket!
5. Remember, each hill takes half an hour.
I've gained a Garmin this year and the digital readout that's most caught my eye is altitude. Even allowing for GPS errors, each climb in the Dyfi is around 300m, and there are five or six, depending on your route. Find your happy place on the climb and have a chat. It's amazing where people come from for the event.
6. Chill, Winston.
It's not a race! Relax and enjoy yourself. You'll soon find a place in the pack with the same people swapping places downhill and up again. Say hello!
7. Stop for a pint!
As I've said, it's not a race, so why not have a pint? Dicko's bar has fine real ale and salted bar-snacks, which have helped me out of a crampy situation a few times. Get your groove on to the disco music and grab a jar.
8. Re-hydrate well.
Re-hydration is vitally important. Bike Corris recommend a heavy tea and cake course, followed by real ale and salted nuts. I believe specialist sachets and tablets are available, but salt is salt and sugar is sugar. And cake is earned!
9. Enjoy the vibe.
There's plenty more going on than just the cycling. Machynlleth Comedy festival brings great performers to the town all weekend, and the shops, pubs and cafes are geared up and ready. There's also plenty to do in the event field, with food, drinks and fun on the doorstep.
10. Have fun! The Dyfi really is a special event with great trails, and seeing the smiles on people's faces when they're greeted by cheerleaders, brass bands, Ewoks or whatever else is waiting up in the hills makes it a top day out.