The first round of the Alpine Bikes sponsored 2013 Innerduro Series took place over the weekend of 2-3 February.
The event, organised by Innerleithen MTB Racing, was completely sold out weeks in advance as some of the best Enduro riders from across the country descended on Forestry Commission Scotland's 7stanes Innerleithen mountain bike trails at Traquair Forest for this exciting style of mountain bike racing. Riders followed a course of around 20km in length, with three special timed stages and over 1100m of climbing/descending. The cumulative time for the predominantly downhill stages would determine the winner.
Competition was expected to be fierce among the 170 or so riders, with local Enduro expert Gary Forest joint favourite with mountain bike legend Crawford Carrick-Anderson in the men’s event and three of the UK’s top female Enduro racers in Helen Gaskell, Sarah Newman and local rising star Katy Winton battling for the honours in the ladies event.
The course really had something for everyone. A real mix of manmade and hand cut trails, flat sections, steep sections and even the odd climb. As usual at Innerleithen, there were roots, rocks, drops, jumps and enough different mud types to keep a pedologist satisfied for days.
Saturday practice went well with just enough of a frost to keep the mud solid and therefore running fast. A few new lines were already opening up by the end of the day and that was to be a feature for race day as roots and rocks were uncovered in the most unfortunate places.
So, race day came and things were hotting up enough for the mud to defrost and become more of a feature than on practice day. The marshals were in place, there was a feed station at the top of the hill to keep the riders energised and the photographers and spectators were selecting their vantage points for the day’s entertainment.
Stage 1 followed the excellent rocky and rooty “Alistair Lees” track down to a forest road where the riders turned left for a short, sharp, lung-busting climb to the entrance to “Mince Baby Mince” for a fast and furious descent through the mud and over the furrows to the end of the Stage. A quick breather and time to swap stories with riding buddies, then a gentle ride back to the top for the next stage.
Stage 2 starts with a furious pedal through energy-sapping sodden peat and heather before dropping onto the old “XC enduro” trail. Line choice through this section is paramount to avoid the deepest mud sections before crossing into the “Plora Craig”
section of the XC course. This is a fast, pedally section on manmade trails, including the “Razor Rock” black section before turning off onto the “Classic”, a trail that requires every bit of concentration and physical control that you have left following the demanding upper section. The road at the end of the stage was strewn with bikes and bodies as riders recovered before the gentle, but long ride back to the top for the final stage.
Stage 3 started on the manmade upper sections of “Make or Break” before a road crossing into a fresh, loamy track that lulled the riders into a false sense of security. It then got steeper. And steeper. And steeper again! Throw in lots of roots and rocks and you have one challenging descent. Add to this thick clay that has just had 2 weeks of snow followed by five days of rain and you have comedy central. There were cheerleaders to welcome the riders onto the road at the end of the section, before a short uphill to the final section – “Jane’s Lane” into “Caddonbank”. The final manmade trails are fast and furious with lots of jumps, drop-offs, doubles and even a bomb-hole. The end of the stage was greeted by the riders with wide grins and a sense of relief that it was all over.
Innerleithen MTB Racings Duncan Nisbet said after the event; “We started Enduro style events here at Innerleithen a few years ago and they’ve gone from strength to strength. We take feedback from riders very seriously and they repeatedly ask us for more of this type of event. Our chilled out approach to race day and the relaxed attitude to transitions, allowing competitors to ride with their mates, always seems to go down well and the introduction of a feed station was well received. To sell out so far in advance of the actual event is all down to the riders themselves and hopefully that is repeated for the other two rounds.”
In the Ladies race, local star Katy Winton was forced out with illness, leaving Helen Gaskell and Sarah Newman to battle it out, Helen eventually taking the win by a minute from Sarah, with Emma McRobb taking third.
1st Helen Gaskell 32’ 25”
2nd Sarah Newman 33’ 25”
3rd Emma McRobb 40’ 53”
In the Junior category, local boy Brodie Hood took the win by over 3 minutes from Scott Lindsay, with Grantown’s Donald Rodgers taking third.
1st Brodie Hood 27’ 42”
2nd Scott Lindsay 30’ 52”
3rd Donald Rodgers 31’ 24”
In the Veteran category, as expected, Crawford Carrick-Anderson took the win by 21/2 minutes from Justin Grice, with Patrick Bruce not far behind in third.
1st Crawford Carrick-Anderson 23’ 59”
2nd Justin Grice 26’ 35”
3rd Patrick Bruce 26’ 53”
And so to the Seniors category. Gary Forrest, riding a new bike, took the win with the fastest time of the day and the fastest stage time in all three stages. Chris Buchan came closest and to take second with Calum McRitchie taking third.
1st Gary Forrest 22’ 08”
2nd Chris Buchan 24’ 45”
3rd Calum McRitchie 25’ 09”
Many thanks to Alpine Bikes for sponsoring the series and to all the marshals and volunteers that make the event possible. Thanks also to the competitors for supporting our event – we hope to see you for the rest of the series.
Round 2 is a Day/Night Enduro on Saturday 2nd March.
Round 3 is a standard Enduro on the weekend of 30th/31st March.
Further information and details on how to enter can be found on the Innerleithen MTB Racing website at: http://www.innerleithenmtbracing.com