Togas, Laurels, and Chariots…… Mountainbike Chariots

A WELSH town will be transported back into Roman times today as it aims to maximise its visitor appeal. Residents in Llanwrtyd Wells–the self-confessed “wacky capital of Wales”–will don togas and drape themselves in laurels for a Gladiator-style chariot race. The event is to celebrate Saturnalia–an annual festival of Roman drinking, food and fun. Jokingly described as a cross between “a Roman orgy and a Camra (Campaign for Real Ale) weekend”, it encourages visitors to live it up like a Roman among the Cambrian mountains, by sampling more than 50 real ales or wine. Gordon Green, chairman of Green Events, said the chariot race, to be held this afternoon, will be the main spectacle, but–instead of stallions–mountain bikes will be used to pull the barrel drum-style chariots.

Somebody please, get us pictures!

Now why is it our Welsh & British cousins get to have all the fun, and we’re stuck with boring NORBA events with 100 spectators, tops? More and more, the large UCI-backed competitions in Europe (and Canada) are drawing away our homegrown pro riders of all disciplines from the United States events. The lack of talent has been strangling the American point-series championships for years now; and adding insult to injury, the first major corporations to sponsor a Mountainbiking championship in almost twenty years are doing so in Europe. What is left are a handful of events, that once over, leave the rest of the season pretty sparse. Slopestyle is has been picking up steam in Canada for a while now; and as a major crowd & media draw, it’s just beginning to trickle down past the border (Crankworx, Colorado). With the XC series wheezing along on life-support, some pro XC riders turning to ‘Cross, and Super-D not yet being fully accepted by the governing body of pro-cycling; that leaves SS and 4X to somehow save competitive mountainbiking on this side of the Atlantic. Somehow, I don’t think that’ll happen.

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