and the normal scottish summer showed us what its made of, giving all who attended the race to show us what they are made of too.

I arrived on saturday to what felt like a normal days riding with only a handful of people about, but with the famous Downhill virtuouso Danny Hart signing on.

All day I barely saw more than 30 people on track, but this may have been due to the order i practised the tracks in, because nearly 400 riders had entered the race. With what looked to be an incredible choice of trails, the most notable of which was the very steep and techy “barts trail”. A trail i know well, but never expected to be racing on ever. From the outset I knew this was gonna be good, especially with the forecast heavy rain on saturday night to spice race day proceedings up.

Practice went fairly well for me and I managed to practice  stages 4 & 5 twice, and the others once, with the exception of “Jawbone”, which had a late closure on it due to a young chap  who had a bad accident on it, requiring mountain rescue to  come and help. heal quick and well jack!

Yet again this shows the importance of carrying a decent first aid kit and communication device (whistle or phone) when riding and racing. Please folks dont travel too light when riding, you will never know when you need  help or required to give it.

Practice day was a heady mix of dust, loam, hero dirt, mud and slop. I dont think ive ever seen such a mix of trail conditions on a single trail never mind in a single day.

The over night deluge soon evened everything up. which i was fairly glad about, as it can be quite hard racing down a trail not knowing when you have grip and when you dont. at least when the grip is all gone you are wholly prepared for it all day!!

the first 3 stages were on the “Golfy side of the valley.

stage 1:- was “newyorknewyork”  . having been seeded 1st in the veteran category i was fairly early down this track, and whilst it was slippy, it still had good flow and not too much sticky mud.  i really felt for the latter half of the riders who were going to be riding this corner-laden track in thick slop. I put in a good run which was only fast enough for 3rd spot. Kudos to Scott Stephenson and Darren Scott for putting the fast times in.  I had to burst out laughing with Carl Jennings  when we exited the track as our brightly coloured attire was now utterly covered in mud. we looked like  we had stood at the back of a muck spreader for 3 mins.

stage 2 – was the aweseome “3G”  track.  i was real confident on this track as  i love it and the extra length on it meant i could make use of my fitness.  it all worked out for me getting the fastest time on it  with only one wee mistake.

Stage 3 – was the infamous “jawbone into walkorburn”.  the top half i rode real well despite the insanely greasy rocks on it , however, i popped onto the forest road sprint all guns a blazing and spent myself proper getting to the “walkorburn” trail,  i made a silly unforced error early on in it, just before things got nasty, and distracted myself so bad, i rode off the track to a dead stop,  this meant meant my tyres filled with mud and i had no momentum and spent the rest of the track cursing, and tripoding down the trail.  basically rendering all practised lines null and void. the bottom part of the trail proved to be pretty much everyones nemesis, as it was border line unrideable after the heavy rain. some how i just scraped the fastest time on it.

Stage 4 – over to the innerleithen DH trails. for “barts trail”  but with a cheeky top section and forest road added in. there were some great inside lines too be had in the top section, which i made grand use of. To be honest i was terrified going into “barts trail”. i know it like the back of my hand, but i was sure it was going to be disaster and in the same conditions as the previous stage. luckily it wasnt too bad, i made a couple of errors on the way down forcing me to scrabble for balance. but my familiarity with the track scored my fastest time again and  was enough to give me a healthy 35sec lead going into the last stage

Stage 5 – was a mish mash of Dh trails, part of one i had never ridden on in 20 years of riding at innerleithen, and finishing on the newly cut and immensely fun “cresta” berms in the arena.  one of the most fun stages ever i think.  i just scraped fastest times again on it. yeeha

a day of riding calm , relaxed and confident, secured me the win for the day in the Vets category, 15th fastest of the whole day and the veteran unofficial “triplecrown” title.

Danny Hart proved his immense skill in the slop taking the win under 16mins!! to most folks 19-20mins.  Sam Dale took 2nd and the  always on fire Sam Flockhart taking 3rd spot and also the highly desirable TweedLove “triple crown” title

ladies was won by enduro worlds series rider Bex Baraona with Marz McInnes in 2nd and Louise Haggarty in 3rd gaining herself a reputation as frequent podium flyer!!!

the junior boys was won by local rider Tom Wilson showing a lot of potential with a time just shy of breaking 17mins!!

carl jennings in vets kept hold of 2nd and Zac Hubery grabbign 3rd.

Gary William Forrest  kept to true form and won the masters mens and with 4th fastest time of the day.

sorry if i’ve missed anyone out.

kudos to the organisers for putting on a great race depsite the weather. and making everyone aware of the tree disease threatening our forest and trail swith in the forests if they get felled.   please everyone  keep your local trails disease free and wash that bike before you leave the riding area you are in ……then wash it again at home, before heading out again.

massive thanks to Marin Bikes for the awesome in all conditions “Attack Trail”. Sixth Element for the pin perfect and indestructable carbon wheels. Flare Clothing Company for the aweseome kit (last chance for 50% discount ends tonight “HAPPYBIRTHDAY” is the code.

Thanks to MSC TIRES UK for the the most incredible tires ever. 2 race wins in vets and a 4th in elite in the SES since i put these bad boys on proving these tyres are the business.

Wee Cog for sorting me out real quick with a new saddle pack after losing mines in dunoon   and Ryan’s Bike Surgery for keeping my bike running race smooth!!!

see you  all at pitfichie rd 5 of the SES….. i got some hauling to do seeing as i’m sitting 3rd in elite overall with a lot to lose!!!

Mountain biking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk

©TrailScotland - 2020


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