James reports: SES Round 2 Innerleithen
This was to be my first Scottish Enduro race, but my third Enduro of the year at Innerleithen. It’s always one of my favourite venues and never gets boring.
Saturday was heading towards a brilliant day from the start – blue skies and sun from the off.
Stage 1 and 2 were over at the Golfie and were of the standard fast and steep terrain.
Stage 3, 4 and 5 were back over on the Innerleithen hill with 3 and 4 being really long cross country style tracks and 5 being flat out downhill top to bottom. So all in all, a real mix with some lung busters thrown into the mix as well.
Come Sunday It was a little cooler and overcast but the trails were still bone dry so for me the riding conditions were ideal.
There was a massive queue at the start of stage 1 and it was freezing up top so everyone was rushing to get down. I had a fantastic top section but had a huge crash half way down trying to avoid another rider standing on the track. It was a huge crash, one of the biggest I’ve had but I’m pleased neither I nor the lad I was trying to avoid got hurt.
Knowing I was now out of the race, I was now focused on having fun and putting in some fast stage times.
Stage 2 was one of my favourites, but again, with there being such a big queue at the top I ended up passing 4 other riders on sage so struggled to put in a top time. Despite this I was happy with 3rd in Elite men on this stage, and given this is only my 4th Enduro race, once I get a bit more experience things should run smoother! ha!
Coming into stage 3 I was feeling fit and looking forward to seeing how good my legs were on the sprint. I’d done a big ride testing the Naughty Northumbrian earlier in the week and felt strong. The rocky top section was flat out and I felt good until a puncture half way down. This was a real bummer as I was loving the Morsa, the first time I’d used it and it felt mint. I thought the sealant had done its job and I continued riding at the limit but with there being so little air in the tire it burped in one of the turns and went flat again. I wasn’t the only rider to suffer this fate on this stage but it never makes it any easier.
After fixing the puncture and having some food there wasn’t a lot of time to get back up to stage 4 before it closed so I decided to ride straight to Stage 5 – a track that I knew would suit me well.
My run started off a little slow but by the fire road I felt back up to speed and was smiles all the way down. The bottom section of the track made up for the whole weekends bad luck with some of the best turns I’ve ridden. Again, I claimed a 3rd fastest time overall on this stage proving that my DH speed is there , I just need to balance it out for a whole day across the stages.
The bike performed faultlessly all weekend, bar the puncture which is a real rarity. Now I’m getting to used it I’m really starting to enjoy these Enduro races. Some fitness and experience will help but in the mean time I’m really just enjoying the crack and banter of the races!
So when all said and done; Overall a good weekend just not really much luck on the race front!
Till next time…….
First photo – Rae Mackenzie Islay