TransWales report: Day four

The best day of riding yet

Today the Merida Bikes TransWales seriously stepped things up to give maximum payback to the riders for all their endurance – both on the stages and with the weather itself – as everything that is great about mountain biking was rolled out on a platter that only got sweeter as the day went on.

Taking riders from Tregaron to Machynlleth 79km and 2000m of climbing away, the day’s stage also had some bonus prizes in store for the riders: 2200m of descending. And the final destination also had one very important facility: a laundrette in which riders could wash and dry their much-abused kit.

The stage left Tregaron and for the first 20km gave the riders a gradual warm up along flat trail including an old rail line and a riverside ride along the Afon Ystwyth for a scenic spin into Aberystwyth. Following a grind up to the lunch spot things clicked and the riders got into the groove of proper wilderness riding with techy ascents and descents, wooded singletrack sections and stunning scenery. The trail jumped on the Continental Trail – part of the Nant-y-Arian trail network that the riders will encounter in greater depth tomorrow and Friday – and ran it backwards along the stunning Esgair Ffostudr section.

With long rocky climbs winding steadily along the moorland, the rocky trail base meant that progress both up and down was good and fast. With water running down descents and climbs in places creating floods and standing pools across the trail water – as with the rest of the event so far – proved an unavoidable reality of the ride. Many riders – already soaked and with adjusted mindsets (‘I can’t get any wetter….’) – charged in with youthful glee just for the hell of it.

The route then re-entered the trees near the shores of Nant y Moch reservoir and ran along tarmac and fire road before crossing an almighty stream. Here serious care had to be taken to respect the breadth and high flow of the water, and riders helped each other across safely to the other side. Then came the final drop into Machynlleth.

“It was definitely the best day so far,” an elated USE Solo Men’s rider Nikalas Cook said after finishing. “It was everything that’s great about mountain biking: big climbs; amazing descents; beautiful scenery including an incredible waterfall; and great technical stuff like the chute descent.” But that’s not all: despite the set backs of bad weather, riders are gelling with spirit of the Merida Bikes TransWales’ infectious ‘we’re in this together’ sense of camaraderie.

OVERALL GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER LINKING STAGE FOUR

USE Women’s Solo Category

1 – Fi Spotswood (Iron Horse Extreme): 26:16:30

2 – Katrina Brown (Deeside Total Endurance): 26:17:53

3 – Amy Baron-Hall (trio25.blogspot.com): 26:29:14

USE Men’s Solo Category

1 – Ryan Bevis (RAM Bikes): 26:07:28

2 – Frans Claes (Connection Granville):  26:07:50

3 – Andy Barlow (Whyte Bikes): 26:07:53

USE Veteran Women’s Solo Category

1 – Mary-Rose Cross Anne Dickins (Cloud 9 Trails): 26:30:30

2 – Anne Dickins (Cloud 9 Trails): 26:32:51

3 – Kim Williams: 26:40:22

USE Veteran Men’s Solo Category

1 – Steve Heading (Whyte Bikes): 26:10:31

2 – Kerry Graham (BAD CC): 26:41:57

3 – Bryan Singleton (Ride On/Buff): 26:13:45

High5 MixedCategory

1 – Meggie Bichard & Ed Kerly (Team Chance): 26:13:42

2 – David Evans & Lily Mathews (Team 8): 26:14:07

3 – Paul Hoogenboom & Alieke Griffeon (Peptiplus-Bikezone): 26:21:40

Ergon Veteran Men’sCategory

1 – Carl Hutchings & Stuart Lockear (LondonPhoenix Vets): 26:16:48

2 – Simon Jepheart & Gary Cousins (phasenineclothing.co.uk): 26:17:01

3 – David Wood & Tom Jones (Team Dysynni): 26:23:17

Buff FemaleCategory

1 – Irene Lachner & Alice Lund: 26:39:08

Gore Bike Wear MaleCategory

1 – Ifan Richards & Richard Purt (Revolution Bikes RT): 26:12:04

2 – Steven Franzoni & Craig Sterrett (Outdoor Escape): 26:12:32

3 – Ben Jones & Andy Jones (Clee Cycles / KCNC): 26:13:42

Niner Singlespeed Category

1 –Henry Richard Lansdown (Bike Shed Wales): 26:12:33

2 – Matt Carr (69er Collective): 26:12:34

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