A day out at the BritsJune 19, 2018
British champs on home turf, what could be sweeter. TweedLove, would be hosting the 2018 Whyte British Championships and it would be my first race against the best that Britain has to offer. I was going off early with the rest of the juniors in my category. I was looking forward to my first taste of racing on a bigger stage and buzzing to see how I would fare. It was going to be a long day with 53km of riding and 1600 metres of climbing which lay ahead of us and I couldn’t wait!
The day started with a quick blast along the cycle path to wake up the legs before steeply ascending up through Traquair Forest to stage one; MORNING GLORY. The top section was slick! A narrow trail of rocks and roots with just enough moisture to threaten a slide out when at race pace. After dropping onto the top fireroad a lung-busting sprint led you into the steep stuff. The game plan was to ride smooth and take it easy as it was the first stage, easier said than done. I was glad to reach the bottom with no major mistakes however it was gutting to have passed my friend and competitor Tormid Doherty who had hit the deck and fractured his collar bone into four pieces! Hope you heal up quick and get back riding soon mate.
Straight out of stage one and right back up to the top for FOOLS GOLD. The top section was similar to the last before crossing the fireroad onto a fast straight with fun gap jumps and step downs. I was riding fast, maybe too fast! Just before entering the final descent down the new goldrun turns, I clipped a pedal. Nothing major just enough to pick up my back wheel and send it of to the side. I now had my front wheel on the trail and my back wheel skidding alongside me. I was sliding sideways down the steepest section of the stage straight towards a tempting tree. I didn’t lose too much time but it was annoying to already be behind after only doing a third of the stages.
It was a long transition from the bottom of Traquair forest to the top of the moor up Caberston where SCOTLAND THE PERFECT STAGE awaited us. This was the longest stage of the day taking us from the top of the hill right to the bottom. It was also a very physical stage even though there was not a huge amount of pedalling to be done. A full body work out is an understatement. Unfortunately stage 3 followed the same trend as the 2 previous. Multiple small crashes and mishaps followed me down the trail as I overcooked turns in the tight, steep Golfie corners.
Stage 4; F.E.A.R. also known as my living nightmare. An early crash had sent me out the front door and headfirst down the steep and slippery hillside. By the time I had clambered back up the trail to retrieve my bike I had already been passed by fellow racer Tom Wilson who had started 20 seconds behind me. I attempted to follow Tom as we ventured down the valley towards Walkerburn. But no later than 30 seconds after I had got back on my bike Tom also crashed followed by me ploughing into the back of him causing a tangle of legs, bodies and bikes. When I eventually reached the bottom of stage 4 I knew I had some serious work to be done if I wanted to rectify my mistakes and try to come away from the British Champs with a good result. Unfortunately Tom had reached the end of his race as he had totalled his back brake rendering it useless.
It wasn’t far to climb before we reached the penultimate stage; BORN SLIPPY. An oldschool track that was new to the majority of racers but would be just as challenging as the other stages. A series of loose, rocky corners led you into the steep trees towards the bottom of the hill. Unfortunately it had taken me up to this point to realise that time could be made up by staying on my bike and being smooth. Luckily for this stage I followed those tips and made it to the bottom clean and in control.
After blasting along the cycle past for the second time in the day we climbed up the last ascent of the day towards THERE’S NO OTHER WAY. I had been looking forward to this stage as it was the stage I was most comfortable on and excited to race down. To make things even better there was a new addition of corners to take us from the end of the first trail down to Peebles.
After finishing the day with 2 strong stages I had done just enough to secure 3rdposition in the junior E1 category. Although not my best form all day I am still pleased and proud to say that I’m up with the fastest in the UK in my first year of racing enduro. Congratulations to my TweedLove RT teammate on taking the British championships jersey after being off the bike for the best part of a year! And also to my riding buddy Polly Henderson earning the champs jersey convincingly infront of a world class field and even taking 3rdin the overall. Thanks so much to the whole TweedLove crew for putting together an amazing event and creating a great racing atmosphere. I’d also like to thank Void for keeping me looking good and kitted out, WTB for supplying me with components to help me race my best, alongside Whyte Bikes and Alpine Bikes for all their support.
Pics by Ian Linton