Bridgend’s answer to Justin Bieber reports from the definitive South Wales enduro event – the Garw Avalanche.
words by Taylor Vernon, photos by Leon Rosser and David Tilby
Last weekend was the annual and now infamous Garw Avalanche race. With the Garw Valley Mountain Bike club organizing an event like this it was sure to be a great day. When we arrived at the Braichy Cymmer pub Saturday morning it was clear that it was going to an amazing day ahead. The sun was shining, the place was packed and even Tom “Lloydy” Lloyd had turned up – wtf?!
When signing on which was only a fiver plus food and drinks included (bargain!) had ended we all set off in groups to get to the top. To be fair it was a fair old climb and some people were over and out before they even got to the start (Lloydy). On the way up we all had a little look at the track having a look at some line choice, especially the middle section it was pretty much a swamp!! It was more trials and who can stay on at that point. All good fun though.
As we reached the top of the hill at the trig point in “Green Field” we were all chilling and smashing some Haribo but also at the same time quite nervous as everyone knew it was going to be a tough one! As everybody arrived at the top of the hill it was no messing around, it was Go Time. All the riders were ready for it and had beers in hand – just a shandy for me though because I’m still a kid! We eventually all started to down our drinks and soon as the first man left there was no mercy, everyone began to pelt it towards they’re bikes ready to hit the slopes. At this point I felt so ill as I imagine everyone else did all I could taste was my own sick coming up in to my mouth, it wasn’t a nice experience!
Next thing everyone is battling for the first corner. As I followed Emyr Davies taking a wild route we easily dropped down to 8th position before going down the fire road before hitting the first descent. At the time it was just a matter of getting to that first descent in front. Boulders flicking up and some funny shapes were going on as we all got wild, before you know it Emyr and I took a sneaky line cutting off the fire road cutting out a lot of ground to end up out in front which was a vital move. Then it was just the case of getting in front of Emyr as we battled it out to the first turn of the descent, with me taking the risk hitting the low line to cut him up it definitely paid off as I was able to get ahead and put some time on the other guys before the first climb.
As much as I was feeling sick the first descent was so fun and really fast and flowing but some of us wouldn’t know this because they didn’t make it to the first turn (Lloydy). Being a local and knowing this descent I was confident that I could get the gap and go. As I exited the descent I began to climb up the never ending hill as I looked behind to see Rowan Sorrel and Emyr battling it out behind me with Leon Rosser and other contenders in the distance. As the climb went on I was already feeling it before I got to the mid way point as it began to descend again… well I say descend but really it was nearly uphill. For me I had no one in sight as I began to take on the course. I opted just to chill out and take it easy to stay on the bike and try not to lose any time. As I was riding the course I could hear people shouting and shit which made me rush the course which resulted in getting a stick jammed in my wheel which set me back a good few seconds.
As the descent ended another hill was in my sights and again it was climb climb climb! I began to conserve some energy as I knew the last climb up to ‘Granmaas’ was a tough one and I had Rowan on my ass. I pretty much just got out the saddle and went for it hoping I can stay in front of him before I dropped in to Granmaas as I was pretty confident with that track. At the first gate crossing there was still a small gap between us. It felt like one minute he would be pushing as I’m conserving then next minute I’d be pushing whilst he was conserving which made it close. The second gate crossing came and Rowan was pretty much at the gate as I was just leaving. Straight away I got out the saddle and pounded the pedals before dropping in to Granmaas with a short gap between us.
At this point I was ruined and cramping up a lot but I put it in the back of my mind and dropped in granmaas confident I could do some damage. The track was running amazing and I was so loving life at this point Matt Pinches and others built the course to near perfection! So much fun…
As i got to the bottom I looked up the hill and Rowan was no where to be seen as he had a crash at one of the first corners. At the time I had no idea, I got the seat up and began to sprint 100m finish, next thing my one leg is so cramped up I couldn’t pedal but I definitely wasn’t giving up I peddled one footed to the finish in agony, I crossed the line in relief dropping to the floor nearly in tears haha! I’ve never raced such a demanding race in my whole life, I was game over at the end! Fair play to ALL the competitors who took part!
Big shout out to Lloydy for being a weapon and destroying his bike on its first ride!
I’d like to thank all the organizers from the Garw Valley Mountain Bike Club and everyone who took part for running such a sick event. Cheers boys!
1. Taylor Vernon – 33min 20 secs
2. Rowen Sorrell – 34.20
3. Emyr Davies – 35.15
5. Adam ‘Boris’ Clarke – 37.01
6. Ian Davis – 38.00
7. Julian Poffley – 38.01
8. Gareth Ryan – 39.55
9. Chris Edwards – 40.20
10. Alex Betts – 40.21
11. Matt ‘The Mincer’ Pinches 42.40
12. Gavin Johnson – 43.23
13. Matthew ‘Still not as good as my dad’ Betts – 43.24
14. Ben Bolton – 43.44
15. Dai Turner – 45.15
16. Andrew Roberts – 45.16
17. Rob Williams – 45.41
18. Jake Smith – 45.50
19. Mike Widlake – 46.12
20. Andy ‘Big Baby’ Lewis 46.21
21. Lee Motley – 47.00
22. Ben Dart – 47.17
23. Jason Davies – 49.49
24. Jason Addis – 50.43
25. Rich Coleman – 51.26
26. Neil Jones – 51.29
27. Stuart Evans – 51.37
28. Colin ‘rush cycles and tearooms’ Wakefield – 52.33
29. Rory Hutchins – 52.42
30. Gareth Evans – 54.21
31. Tom David – 54.55
32. Jason Rees – 55.00
33. Dan ‘I am on a hardtail you know’ James – 55.22
34. Matt Langley – 56.08
35. Karl Luxford – 56.30
36. Jamie Roberts – 56.32
37. Adrian Smith – 56.34
38. David ‘only here for the food’ Gibboney – 56.52
39. Peter Maskall – 59.08
40. Sam Kiddy – 1hr 00minutes 06seconds
41. Peter Britton – 1.01.06
42. Damien Crombie – 1.05.55
43. Peter Davies – 1.11.40
44. Tom Bannister – 1.14.55
——- official race cut off time 1hour 15minutes ——-
45. Mike Saunders – 1.16.00
46. Tom Lloyd (finished with only one wheel, so fair play)
47. Simon ‘Tiny Tim’ Addison, that said did anyone actually see him finish, is he still up there do you think, probably trying to finish the official start race beer…..