Fort William, end of the SDA Series by Sandra Scally

Well, I know I’ve been a little bit quiet lately and the reason for that was, well life happened.
The last blog I did was before the British Championships, which was actually a pretty good race for me. I put in a clean race run and came away with 2nd in the Senior Women’s category.

The podiums for that race in the Senior Women’s category were:

1. Rebecca Kennedy
2. Sandra Scally
3. Debs Primrose

It was my first British Championship race and it was great to be a part of.

That race was in July, and basically, I haven’t really ridden or raced until this weekend.

Even though the weather was gorgeous, I spent a lot of time with my family who were visiting from Canada. I did a fair bit of sight seeing that didn’t involve a bike – which was very weird indeed. I played cribbage and various other card games to what can only be described as an uber competitive level, but it really isn’t the same as racing a bike.

So it was nice to get back up to Fort William this weekend for the final round of the Scottish Downhill Series.

Pre - race - clean kit, smiley faces

I started dabbling in downhill racing in 2012. My 2nd downhill race was the endurance downhill. I managed quite a few runs that day (12!!) but I wasn’t very fast. My quickest time ended up being around 9 minutes 30 seconds.

A year later, at the end of the 2013 season, I raced Fort William as the last round of Scottish Downhill Series. It was a good race, but I took a massive spill in my 1st race run, destroying my jersey and my confidence. I put in a decent run of 8:16.

This year, my overall goal was to go under 8 minutes for a race run at Fort William. I raced there earlier in May, and managed a 7:55 – having already met my goal for the year, I needed to set a new one for this race.

I knew that I hadn’t been on my bike in a while so decided that I wasn’t likely to try any of the larger features (no hazzard hoofer for me!!!). The line they took through the woods also took in the awkward boardwalk drop. I decided early on that I didn’t feel comfortable with it as I never felt strong by the time I got to that point in the course. Knowing that I was just going to improve on what I could already do, I decided on a few goals to help me get there which were:

Cleaning up the jump at the top, trying to hit the hip jump with more speed and pedal pedal pedal!!!

The first run I felt destroyed. It was likely a combination of my snapped rear derailleur cable which had me pushing my hardest gear down the whole hill so by the time I got to the deer gate I was super fatigued. I started two finger braking by the time I got to the woods which is pretty unusual for me. Somehow I still put in a new personal best of 7:34 but I felt that there was more time up on the track.

This could only be found on the pedals! On my 2nd run, I went out of the start gate pedalling as hard as I could – I was smooth down the turns and tried to carry as much speed as possible through the middle rocky section. I think I have a tendency towards caution through this part of the track as it’s where I took my huge spill last year. I even got on the pedals through the woods!
I was going so fast this time that it became awkward for me to go around the hazzard hoofer – so maybe it will be one of my goals for next year ?

I burst out onto the motorway and did my best to squash all of the jumps and get on the pedals as soon as possible.

It worked! I rode to another personal best of 7:16, a full minute faster than last year….and the best news is that I think there is still time up on that hill for me – but I’ll have to wait until next season to find out ?

In the end, I placed 4th out of 8 in my category. I am delighted with my time and with how fast and far the girls in the field have progressed – each of us getting closer and closer to the elite racing times that we admire.

After the scores were tallied up, I was 3rd overall in the Scottish Series. I am pretty delighted in this – especially considering I am about 10 to 15 years older than most of my competitors. There’s still life in this old amateur racer yet!

SDA Overall Podium

A big thank you to the SDA for organising another amazing weekend and series. Thanks to Hervelo Cycling and our Sponsors, Greasemonkey Cycles, Craigies Farm Café & Lifescycles and to all of the awesome ladies at the races who make it fun, challenging and filled with laughter – Until next year!

Senior Women’s Podiums from Fort William SDA:

1. Beverley Barnes
2. Deborah Primrose
3. Rebecca Kennedy

Scottish Downhill Series Overall:

1. Jess Stone
2. Deborah Primrose
3. Sandra Scally
4. Rachel Simpson