The Whyte King & Queen of the Hill was the final race of the 2018 TweedLove Triple Crown Enduro Series and this was going to be the most technical of the lot. Beginning up Caberston Forest for 3 steep and physical stages. Then crossing the valley to Traquair Forest for the final 2 stages of gnar. After a day of practicing in classic Scottish weather the trails were running perfect but I knew that was all about to change as I heard the rain lash down as I fell asleep.
Sat at the top of stage 1, nothing could of prepared us for the colossal amount of mud that awaited us. After dropping in I was immediately taken aback by quite how wet and slippery stage 1 was. The already tricky corners with no support were only made more difficult by the layer of slick mud which had coated the whole trail top to bottom. Stage 2 was a more watered down repeat of stage 1 where the thinner trees and steeper terrain allowed for mud to get washed away only to be replaced with plenty of off camber-roots to keep things interesting. As stage 2 was the longest and most physical stage of the day I conserved my energy and focussed on carrying speed and riding clean, which couldn’t of gone any better until the final corner where an awkward root would catch me out. Stage 3 had previously taken the victory of hardest stage in practice however to my great surprise and relief last nights rain had completely changed the conditions and boosted the grip levels allowing me to let the brakes go slightly and attack the stage.
It was a long transition up to the start of stage 4 at the top of Traquair Forest on the other side of the glen, but that was definitely made a whole lot easier by a good group of boys to ride up with. Stage 4 had definitely snuck the win for hardest stage of the day by combining steep, tight trails with wet clay covering each corner. Unfortunately my front wheel decided it didn’t fancy staying in the rut on one corner and instead took a more direct line straight down the hillside. This resulted in an unwanted tree hug and a very sore shoulder, but that wasn’t going to stop me making it to the top of stage 5. A mix of old and new DH trails wound their way down to Innerleithen. Cautious of the slippy conditions and now very aware of how quickly things could go wrong, I cruised my way down the final stage.
Once I had put my timing chip in I was delighted to have placed 3rdin a packed field and only a second from 2ndposition. 13thplace in the overall was also a great way to end my first year of racing the TweedLove Triple Crown, even taking the junior Triple Crown title as well. A massive thanks to Alpine Bikes for going above and beyond to let me borrow a bike as mine was being nursed back to health after an untimely frame crack. Also big thanks to WTB for maximising the little grip out on the course, VOID Cycling for letting me show off their awesome kit, Whyte Bikes for their constant support and fnally to the TweedLove Crew for putting on a brilliant series and for never being able to do enough for me.
Words by TweedLove Team Rider CALUM JOHNSON
Photos by IAN LINTON