This weekend show the first round of the 2013 UK Gravity Enduro Series. Not only that, it was the first outing for the all new PIONEER SCOTT SYNCROS ENDURO Team. This season SCOTT have built a two person team to tackle everything the UK Enduro scene has to offer. The team consists of one Elite Male rider, and one Elite Female rider.

For the guys we have Callum Dew. Who will be challenging for a step on the podium throughout the season, with his history in British DH expect to see him attacking the top boys that the UK has to offer! Callum's team mate for 2013 is Helen Gaskell. Helen rode for us last year, challenging World Champion Tracy Moseley all the way to the end of the 2012 season.

The race its self was touch and go with this fantastic weather we have been experiencing here in the UK! But, what can be said about mountain bikers, come rain or shine, snow or mud, the race will go on! Below is an first hand insight from Callum and Helen's weekend.

There was a lot of speculation as to whether round 1 of the UK Gravity Enduro Series would actually go ahead, after a week of heavy snowfall across the UK and the cancellation of round 1 of the Pearce Cycles Downhill Series. But with the surprising promise of a snow-free zone from the Afan event organisers, I set off to South Wales with my good friend and Elite racer Josh Lewis (Cotic Bikes enduro team) and pro mtb photographer Duncan Philpott. With this being the first real Enduro style event for all of us, and my first race flying the flag for the SCOTT/SYNCROS team, the van was definitely a mixture of nerves and excitement!

Amazingly Afan genuinely was snow-free, although the view from the van 15 minutes before arriving said otherwise! That being said, it was still extremely cold and the ground was super water-logged. Saturday morning I chucked on a full length lycra bib, 4 base-layers, my Scott jersey and coat, a neckerchief (and had a pint of concrete for breakfast) and headed out to check out the stages! There were 5 stages in total within a 20 mile loop, varying between 3 and 8 minutes in length. All were super pedally and fitness oriented, with stage 4 looking like it could have been mostly pedal free and downhill skill oriented in the dry, but ending up as a pedal-fest mud bog! However the loop was great fun, with an equal balance between hard-packed stone trail-centre style and fresh natural surfaces. 

Seeding runs were on Saturday afternoon and held on stage 5 of the loop. This stage was extremely physical, with a 1 minute fire-road sprint and climb midway through, eventually finishing on a 4x track in the finish arena. With some gearing issues (due to my choice to not run a chain device) severely affecting my ability to pedal, I seeded in 22nd in Elite. With seeding times counting towards overall race times for the weekend, this wasn’t the start to the weekend I had hoped for and I knew that I had a lot of work to do on Sunday to improve my position. With that in mind Saturday evening involved a big carby meal and an early night.

I woke up Sunday morning to sub-zero temperatures and went about fixing my drivetrain issues from the day before. Unfortunately the best I could manage was to run the bike in the granny-ring for the day, which I knew would prove great on the climbs and linking sections between stages, but less than ideal on the stages themselves. Nonetheless I was determined to better Saturday’s seeding position, so with a grin like a Cheshire cat I set off on what I knew would be a fun day. Weather conditions made Sunday’s stages a real challenge, with sub-zero winds, icy rock slabs and deep mud bogs. The mud on stage 4 was so deep that most Elite riders including myself found it quicker to get off the bike and run the last section…UK racing at its finest! Despite my mechanical issues, the Scott Genius felt amazing all day, with the 650b wheels finding grip on ice and in mud when I needed it the most. Equally, I felt fit and strong throughout Sunday, keeping myself fuelled on TORQ energy bars and gels. The range of flavours from TORQ is exceptional and the bars are easier to chew and digest whilst riding than any other energy brand I’ve tried. After 4 hours riding I fuelled up on one last TORQ gel with guarana for an extra boost to attack the final stage. Amazingly midway down the stage I came across a couple out for a Sunday ride on the race track with their dog! They reluctantly got out of my way before I had to get my head down and sprint the fire-road section as best as I could with my drivetrain issues. I left everything I had on the final stage and crossed the line knowing at least that I’d given each stage 100% effort. When the results were finally posted, I found I’d boosted my 22nd position on Saturday up to a weekend overall of 15th in Elite. Considering the mechanical issues I’d had I was stoked with this improvement, knowing I had so much more to give at the next event.

A shout-out has to go out to my Wind-stopper gloves from SCOTT. Despite the freezing conditions, and normally being one to suffer with cold hands, these gloves kept my hands warm all weekend whilst still being thin enough to feel like a normal mtb glove. Chuffed! By far the best piece of kit I’ve ever owned!

Massive thanks to SCOTT/SYNCROS for a bike that I feel more and more at home on with every ride: insanely light but still taking the weekend’s steep and fast downhill sections in its stride. Also a massive thanks to the North West Mountain Bike Centre for always having the bike running and looking 100%, with only my own choice to blame for mechanical issues. Thanks to Duncan Philpott for the images.
Next race for me is UK Gravity Enduro round 2, Innerleithen, 27th April. Can’t wait! See ya there!

Now for Helen's overview. 

After a long winter the first round of the UK Gravity Series all kicked off in South Wales at Afan Forest, I've been excited to get racing, and see all the Enduro faces again from last season. With the weather being so crazy nowadays it has made it even harder for everyone travelling down, snow was forecast for Friday so I made the decision to travel down on Thursday night and I am glad I did, as some off my friends and other races didn't even make it down to the event. 

So Friday morning I woke up to rain on my camper van , I decided to get some more sleep hoping it would stop when I woke again ; ) By the afternoon it had stopped raining hard and was light drizzle so we all got kitted up and checked out the stages.  I was excited as I was riding my new SCOTT 650b which I have only had a few weeks. Four of the stages were all trail centre style so my bike was perfect.
There was a great field of top riders here in the Men and Women's elite category , my good friend Tracy Moseley was there to chase me down , DH rider Jess Stone, enduro rider Sarah Newman and more, Dan Atherton turned up for the event, think he was there for the training , and a little moan at the end for Billy on Dirt TV ( haha ).
Practice was great fun , we did all the stages on Friday just once to see what we had to prepare for , we all new it was going to be a fitness test and for sure it was, Stage five was seeding on Saturday so we got up early Saturday and went straight up there for another run to get that in our minds ready for Seeding in the afternoon. Tracy seeded 1st , I was 2nd and Cheri Mills was 3rd, a good start to the weekend. Sunday morning was here and it was very cold, some frost but at least there was no rain.

We all got our kit on and plenty of it, so we could be warm enough for the next 4 hours, I had 2 sets of gloves on for the transition stages , it was really important that you kept your hands warm or it was not good trying to hold on with hands that didn't want to work. Race day went well , no major mechanicals for any of the girls, only frozen cables and seat droppers. It was a close battle for 3rd and 4th , Cheri Mills claiming 3rd spot only 7 seconds ahead of 4th place Sarah Newman, Aimee Dix was 5th still not to far back. I got 2nd place behind Enduro queen Tracy Moseley. I have some work to do now to get even fitter as i want to be able to chase Tracy down at the next round in Scotland at Inners.

Big shout out needs to go to Steve Parr and his crew for organizing the event, it all went very smooth and was a big success, i know I'm already looking forward to Round 2 at Inners , and if you moaned about pedalling at Afan then you won't have to at Inners, you will probably be moaning about arm pump instead…..

See you all there  ……Hels x        
So there you go. The first ever showing of the team comes with mixed emotion. Great work by the team, hats off to them for sticking with it when the whole country was in turmoil due to the weather. Keep an eye out for more information and activities of the team in the coming months.

We just want to thanks all our sponsors that have allowed this to happen for 2013!

You can always keep up to date with the teams activities at: SCOTT UK Facebook. 

Or you can keep an eye on Cal on his FaceBook Page.
For more information contact:
Technical Marketing Coordinator 
SCOTT Sports

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