Battle on the Beach – RACE REPORT

March 29, 2014

Saturday 15th March, Nik and I packed the van, picked up Phil M and his fat bike. Swung past Shaggy and Mel’s house to pick up a loan fatbike for me and headed to Pembrey Country Park in Camarthenshire.

After a few hours of driving and a slight detour to the golf club, we arrived at the country park and the event village, the sun was still shinning bright.  After say “Hi” to a few familiar faces we pitched camp, registered (at which point Dan and Verity arrived), got our crap together and headed out for a recce loop of the course.

Personalised plate, always a nice touch.

Fatbikes ready to go. Phil's tyres looking mint.

Heading out with Nik, Dan and Phil, I was the only one without a light (not normal for me, but this was meant to be a day race right). As we pottered around the course chatting and looking at the great scenery we knew the course was going to provide a great race.  Soon the light started to go and some ninja riding saw me return with the others to the campsite.  Some food, some beer (pro diet), a good chat and a visit to the unusually quiet onsite bar and it was bed time.

Race day arrived and the sun remained, which was great as the course did have some massive puddles (see below). Also, it was going to be nice to race in the sun for the first time in a number of races.  There was a lot of milling around as I had very little to do compared to a 24hr race, so I enjoyed the sun, chatted to the others and poked and prodded the fatbike.

Soon enough we would be lining up, but here began my indecision. My first proper ride on a fatbike was the night before. I had no idea how fast, hard and long I could push the fatbike around a course?  So I mad a choice to not get at the front of the grid which I normally would do.  In hindsight, I could push the fatbike pretty damn quick and starting where I did meant that as the race started, I was working my way through the field from damn near the back.

Hitting the beach I flew across the soft sand as I knew I would passed the high water line on the harder sand and group formed that was working well together into the headwind on the 3.5km stretch of beach.  We could see 2 large groups in front and the bottle neck of the ramp off the beach we would soon be behind.  Valuable time lost here on the leaders and the fight back started.

In the single track and sand climbs the fatbike excelled and accelerated, every segment I passed still more riders, getting stuck behind slow CX riders on the twist trails and others slowly carrying their bikes up tight single track climbs.  But with every opportunity I would slip past another one or two riders. Nabbing another fatbike here and there.

This would be the routine for the last two laps, including the long drag on the beach.  Although this would see me get in a group, get on the front for my bit wave the next rider through, no one would come through so I would drop the group so as to remove their advantage (no wheel sucking today gents).

Dropping a group on the beach.

The laps played out the same and I pressed on, a couple of interesting overtaking lines, getting the fatbike sideways a few times and soon the finish line was in sight.  Crossing the line, I could help but do so with a smile, this smile had been there on most of the track other than the beach.  So many others were beaming big smiles as well.

I congratulated the Fatbike Cat winner, George, soon found Dan and congratulated him on second in the Fatbike Cat, I finished 8th fatbike (pretty happy with that). Phil soon arrived back with a smile on his face and Nik, quite happy that she had got some great shots (she did!).

What can I say, one of the most enjoyable races I have every done, the weather was great and Matt and the crew from ACycling did a great job with the organisation, the course and making it a fun event.  Even the idea and detail in the trophies make this a stand out event on the race calendar and I will certainly be back.  Good work to Howies and so many others getting behind a new event with such gusto.

Massive thanks to Shaggy at Automatic Cycles (give him a follow of twitter) for the loan fatbike and for Phil arranging it.

Thanks to Nik for getting some great pics.

And as always to:

Weldtite – for keeping things lube and corrosion free.

Alpkit for keeping me warm.

and, Cycleworks – fueling me and keeping the wheels turning on my bikes.


Words: Scott Swalling





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