Greg and I were representing VCM at Innerleithen MTB Racing's 2 day classic enduro.
For those not familiar with the format the event is based on riders picking up a timing dibber anytime within a 2 hour window [ie no 'mass start'], making their merry way to the top of the hill in their own time, dibbing to record the start of their descent, pinning it to the bottom of the stage and dibbing out to record their end time for that stage. Repeat another 5 times over the course of two days. Winner is the rider with the lowest cumulative time for the timed stages.
Other than the infernal push-up track none of the timed trails were repeated and gave a good sample of the huge range of riding goodness that lurks beneath the conifers. Saturday's trio of trails were more xc-oriented making use of some fresh cut singletrack as well as some TTFs from the Red XC loop.
Saturday night's entertainment was a bbq and dual-slalom in the field next door. The racing line through the gates was marked with fresh cow poo, apparently ; )
Sunday dawned bright and [much] breezier, increasing to Eezy-up flattening by mid afternoon.
Sunday's timed sections were longer, faster and rougher. The highlight trail was stage 5 which dropped from the top of Plora Rig almost to the River Tweed by starting along an old enduro trail that is tricky to ride as the rocks and roots keep pushing you into a rut-bog that immediately kills any forward progress. Then into a new section of trail, that the FC had kindly decided to thin earlier in the week - the place looked a mess, the trail had not been wrecked but it was difficult to figure out where it went! And where it went was straight across a fire road and into the Plora Craig / Razor Rock trail then turning right after the rock garden into a joyful 'rediscovered' oldskool DH line with the usual Innerleithen ingredients of tightness, steepness, treesyness, loose loamyness and bermsyness.
The payback for this is the ensuing 300m+ climb that needed tapped out to get back to the top for the last run of the event - which used bits of the Matador, Cresta and Gold Run DH tracks - none of which was much as much fun as it was edgy survival on a hardtail.
The key to enjoying an event like this is, I think, to get a bunch o' mates and ride around in a gaggle at an eminently sociable pace, then individually rag it down the timed sections trying to catch the rider who set off 30 seconds in front, while not being caught yourself. The resulting regroup will offer plenty of faffing and blether time, and the relaxed deadlines mean there is little chance of being time pressured.
I'm sure it would still be a fun event if there was more time pressure on, and squeezing the 6 sections into one day would be a hoot [maybe even a night stage? ; ) ]. Every one seemed to be having a good time despite the slightly lower than hoped for numbers [Dalby UCI XC, The stormbound Glencoe British DH series race, and the Medieval weekend next door at Traquair House as well as other bank holiday activities all did their best to tempt folks away.
All in all top fun, and my new success criteria of placing less than my age was comfortably met
See you back in the Valley at TweedLove, love.