After having great success in the past, the Battle on the Beach off-road cycling event is back for its 3rd year running.
This unique cycling event was a sell out, with a staggering 800 registered riders for 2016. The reason it's such a popular event is not only the race itself, but the action packed weekend the event organisers put on in the lovely picturesque, Pembrey Country Park.
Thankfully the weekend remained dry, and we were even graced by the presence of the warm sun for brief intervals. The atmosphere in the country park was bustling and excitable with all the family coming down to support one another during the races.
Pembrey opened its vast fields to campers who certainly travelled for miles to attend, and race in Battle on the Beach. The pit area had sponsor stands from Assos, Schwalbe, Lezyne and local companies all there to support this huge annual event.
The Battle on the Beach event was spread over both the Saturday and Sunday to ensure that all riders of age and ability had the opportunity to take part in a category most suitable for them.
The Saturday saw the children's categories: Under 8, 10 and 12 races take part. After these, the first annual Battle in the Dark event began, sponsored by Lezyne lights. This was a single 10km lap on a time trial basis with all riders cycling in the dark, along the beach front.
Sunday's events began with the Little Biker's challenges for all young ones ripping it on balance bikes. Shortly after, the main mass start event begun at midday.
This Battle on the Beach race is constructed from 15km loops stretching across the South Wales coastline. All "open" category riders completed three loops of the track, while "fun" riders completed two.
On Sunday, hundreds of riders and spectators gathered on the beach to watch the mass event kick off. With a cooling breeze in the air, and the tide over a mile out, the race was ready to begin. You could feel the excitement and anticipation of the riders as they lined up, clipped in and prepared to set off out of the sandy dunes.
When the horn sounded and the race kicked off, some riders powered through the loose sand and onto the harder flats, whilst others found it easier to run with their bike and jump aboard when they reached more solid ground.
Cycling on the beach is no easy feat, which is why this event is a fun challenge for amateurs and professionals alike. Riding over sand is tricky owing to the loose and soft nature, not to mention the worsen state it becomes after 800 sets of wheels churn it up.
The variety of bikes tackling this challenge were numerous. Fatbikes being a popular choice with the increased tire surface area able to tackle the sand sections, but became struggle with the short technical and forest areas.
650b+ and 29" wheels were out in mass to provide a greater rolling power for cross-country riding, and ease the difficulty of riding on sand.
A majority of bikes were hard tail cross-country steeds, although a few full-suspension beasts rode into battle. More surprising were the few rare fatbike tandems taking part with a tag team duo powering the bike.
In some cases, fixed suspension cross bikes were seen amongst the mass of riders with considerably skinnier wheels that the XC bikes.
The winners from each category were presented with cash prizes trophies and gifts from the sponsors. The fastest woman to complete the 3 laps was Karen Brouwer steaming ahead with a finishing time of 1:49:20.
From the 800 registered riders, 558 took part in the final race on Sunday. From that massive amount, only 58 women were amongst them riders. This tells us that we need more women out there, on the beach, rolling the fat tires for next year.
With camping on site, plenty of riding to be done and categories for all the family to enter, the Battle on the Beach annual race is family friendly, challenging and super fun.
Thankfully the Welsh weather held out, leaving it dry, if not a little chilly. Although none of that seemed to damper the energetic spirit of all those who attended: racers or spectators.
You may also enjoy: