Last weekend was one which required some good climbing legs! For years I’ve enjoyed the luxury of being delivered to the top of a DH track at Innerleithen; from the start when the Redbull Land rovers, driven by Neil Stoddart, dropped you off to the more recent coaches and cattle trucks. Luxury! Now I find myself riding up to the top of Innerleithen five times to ride equally technical and physical tracks, just this time on a bike with less travel and wearing significantly less protection! Strangely it’s quite satisfying and takes a completely different approach to downhill racing.
The Scottish Enduro Series seems to be gaining a good following and the reviews are all positive. Great tracks and a casual atmosphere, until the start of the familiar beep and as Huw Oliver points out in his recent report, ‘the dibber dance’. Round 2 headed to the tweed valley, world renowned for maintaining biking and a must destination on any UK MTB series. The 25km route contained five stages, all with a climb of some sort in the middle and captured exactly what Enduro racing (a word many are trying to avoid using) is all about. There was a lot of climbing with almost 1300m of it in total, double that over two days that’s a lots of climbing.
For me this was the first race on my new Giant Trance Advanced, great on the descents and light for the climbing, it worked a treat! I was consistent in most of the stages with only one major bike incident, when I got friendly with a tree, and with the damp conditions affecting my vision on a few stages. This is a tricky conundrum…..open face and googles; open face and glasses; full face and goggles and the ultimate no no full face and glasses? Glasses seemed to be popular and seem to steam up less when you’re blowing out you’re a**e but then the comfort and safety of a full face is also favourable. I’m still to decide what the best combination is. I certainly don’t want to smash my face up like Neil Danskin managed to at the top of Stage 1. Heal up fast!
Having had a shocker at Round 1, I was looking to improve coming into this event, ahead of the UK gravity Enduro. This improvement seemed to come and the last few weeks getting out on the bike seems to have paid off. Finishing up 7th overall and 6th in Senior was a good improvement from Fort William. There was a strong field of riders minus Joe, ‘the chief’ Barnes from the usual Scottish riders and a few good riders had made the over the border putting in strong performances. Greg Callaghan winning ahead of local Gary Forrest and Mark Scott finishing off the top 3. CCA put in a sterling performance to finish 4th and win his Category. He’s a real machine!