April showers and axle deep mud – Scottish Enduro Round 2
This is Enduro, really are you sure cos I thought it would be a lot drier than this!!! As Sandy has alluded to in her blog it was a great day out at our SDA race and we got a chance to see how our winter training had gone. All in all I was reasonably happy with my performance although as ever there is more work to be done. So after a weekend of slithering round Innerleithen in between races I headed to the enduro race with a wee bit of trepidation, I had heard that the course would consist of 5 stages with varying degree’s of gnarliness!!!
Saturday practice went pretty well; I didn’t want to burst myself so only did stage 3 and 4. Stage 3 was pretty scary with a 45 degree shoot to deal with a mere two pedal strokes from the start, the rest was full of twists and turns with the odd root thrown in for good measure, a big pedal section in the middle sent you onto the fire road and what I thought was the finish. It transpired on Sunday that I’d only done half the stage, the bottom was awesome though. Stage 4 was so much fun for 75% of it until I reached my nemesis, Pete Williams track!!! This is steep, in fact I had this confirmed to me by Jess Stone who I did a wee bit of riding with in practice, she agreed it was in fact very steep. You can imagine that this helped my confidence no end, a world cup downhiller thinks its steep, great what can possibly go wrong, well I soon scared myself senseless trying to ride it and decided that running/sliding would be the safest option.
I went home and cleaned my bike and all my kit and hung everything to dry on every available piece of radiator I could find.
Would Persil get that out, no, but a jet wash will!!!
So after a sleepless anxiety filled night I headed down to Innerleithen, to say the forecast was grim would be an understatement and much to my disappointment the forecasters were unfortunately correct.
I set off with my new found friend Sandra Drummond at just after 10am and started to pedal our way to the top of the Minch moor for the start of stage 1, blustery horizontal rain accompanied us all the way. The stage started off brilliantly with a ripping tail wind on the first section, progress was slowed somewhat by the howling headwind that met me after the first hairpin but after that it was get the foot on the gas and hoof it.
Stage 2 was a different beast all together with tight loamy single track followed by a lung and leg bursting climb up to the chocolate slide that is “mince baby mince” bomb holes, off camber roots, roots, holes everything, completely bonkers. Survived without coming off which was a minor miracle given how slippy it was. The new Schwalbe Hans Dampf tyre really earned its keep.
Stage 3 and 4 mixed up some of the gnarliest single track and downhill trails on the course, the theme was steep and be brave. I struggled with the bravery bit, I didn’t crash despite a good attempt at a crash just over the start of stage 3.
The final shred down Caddon Bank.
Stage 5 and the final push to the top was on, oooft it’s fair to say that fatigue had more than set in now and good judgement was in severely short supply. I managed to pull of my first crash of the day into the trees at the top of stage 5 after a wee bit of indecision. I then ploughed on down stage 5 which was well beyond my capabilities; I clawed my way through the mud and out onto the final fire road section before shooting down Caddon bank to the finish.
With another stacked field of top riders it was a great day for women’s cycling, what a great atmosphere there is at these events. Everyone is just supporting each other and willing each other on, the locals showed well on the podium across all the categories. I finished up 12th which I was pretty pleased with, a top 10 would have been great but my skills and the quality of the field ahead of me meant that was possibly a bit optimistic.
1st Jess Stone – Trek Racing
2nd equal – Lesley Ingram – Ibis cycles and Fiona Beattie
Next event for me is the Red Bull Hill chasers next weekend in the centre of Edinburgh, it should be a blast and worth watching, checkout www.redbull.com for details.
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