Words by Captain James Scott
This felt like an even longer journey than to Innerleithen! A new location for me and the trails were expected to be midway between the pedally Afan and the DH of Innerleithen. A fairly easy loop of 20km with 500m climbing meant there was indeed a nice mix of fitness and technical abilities needed. With sections of flat pedalling over clear-cut forest, smooth gravelly trail centre and natural-feeling rocky, rooty terrain.
For me this turned out to be another chance to gain experience, with two crashes mid-race. The first was a jump 20m from the stage finish. I knew I could easily clear it but I had gone too slowly during practice, so come the race run, I put in an extra pedal stroke. However, adding that to my faster race pace meant I soared straight past the landing, over the bars and into the undergrowth! I was quickly up and running to the finish line to check my bike and body, resulting in a change of ripped shorts. It wasn’t until 5 metres into the next stage that I noticed the slow puncture and 5psi in the tyre. Oops!
Taking it easy and drifting every corner wasn’t ideal. I’d heard about an inside line on the final corner of the final stage, but when I thought I saw it during my race run, only half committed to it and ended up washing out mid-corner in front of the finish line crowd! Oops again! Lesson: always stick to the lines you’ve practised and make sure you hit as much as you can at race speed!
So this time, after gaining more experience, I ended up 57/142, still looking for a mistake- and mechanical-free race run.