Race Report: Callum Thornley, Whyte Vallelujah 2018March 28, 2018
After a cold and snowy winter it was finally time to get back to racing at Tweedlove’s Whyte Vallelujah.
My main focus for this race was to keep rubber side down, after an eventful Dunkeld SES last year! This was also my first race on my new Whyte S-150s. I played in the Galashiels Rugby 7s on the Friday and unfortunately injured my hand. Wasn’t sure if I was going to race until my dad found some carpet underlay and we just taped that to my grip! It seemed to work as my hand was almost painless throughout the weekend.
I was very lucky to get a WTB Vigilante the night before the race to put on the front wheel. On the earlier stages up Cademuir the Vigilante stuck like glue to the gloopy mud then over the river at Glentress it did the exact same in very different conditions. Thanks a lot WTB!
Surprisingly, the weather was looking well good with suns all day Saturday so practice was quality. I went round with team mate Calum Johnson for practice. It was good fun ‘training’ all the stages. The stages were all running prime and I was even looking forward to the fire road sprints. I really noticed the big 29er wheels of the S150 on the upper section of stage 6, Hochi-Min. On the hundreds of roots and braking bumps the bike seemed to glide over them seamlessly.
Jayden Randell joined me and Calum for Race day and we were off at 10:25, first stage at 11:00. I was well nervous before the first stage, worried about crashing or not doing well but I tried to push all the negative thoughts aside and dropped in. It was a solid run but most importantly no crashes so I was chuffed and on to the next one. S2 was so tight in practice, but was actually a really fun stage to race. Trying to manoeuvre my bars through the trees was a fun challenge.
Quick cheese toasty stop then up Janet’s Brae to Stage 3 up Glentress. Stage 3 was a pure gravity stage, barely any pedalling. Probably one of the best stages, in my opinion, out of all the Tweedlove Enduros! Start at Ewok, then Double X, then onto the Bitch followed by Ponduro. Absolutely class. I had a solid stage down here, no mistakes or feet down and buzzing at the bottom! It was pretty awesome how my new Whyte coped so well with different types of riding from the tight, slow and steep stage 2 to the downhill style flat out stage 3. The last stage was a mad one, 8 minutes long and a hefty fire road sprint in the middle. The transition was a big one as well, from the ponds to the top of Hochi-Min was quite the trek. My bike was also proving to climb really well and made climbing these transitions far easier. This stage suited me well and it all came together and I got a pretty much perfect stage, apart from a brief chat with a tree about 20 metres from the finish line. I would have also been 8th overall on that stage which I’m well pleased with!
All in all great weekend and would do it all again in a heart-beat. Stoked about staying on my bike the whole weekend and getting the win in Under 16 E3 category! So glad I got the Whyte S150 as it’s ideal for the UK’s riding and is a superb all rounder bike!
Big thanks as usual to TweedLove, Whyte, WTB and Alpine Bikes for the support!