Premier Series heads to Scotland
Last weekend saw the Premier Series circus roll across the border into Scotland for Round Two of the reworked and rebadged National XC series. The new format, which proved itself as a great success at Newnham Park, was reapplied in the shadow of the mighty Drumlanrig Castle in the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland.
Day One - National Points Series.
Early indications were that this was a course that was going to get close to the hugely successful Newnham track. A tidy combination of man-made and natural trails with no major climbs and no major descents would make for a fast race with plenty of fast flowing technical sections... Until the heavens opened on Friday night.
The one thing you can be sure of when heading north of the border is that when it rains, it really rains. Take a combination of conistent rainfall and 450 riders doing multiple laps and you don't need to me to tell you that it became a mudfest.
Personally I thought it held up OK under the circumstances. The course didn't really favour any type of rider, you could be strong in the technical and weak on the open fire roads or vice versa. Obviously the riders coming out best were the ones that had a combination of strength in the deep rutted and rooty mud and also the brute strength to keep the pedals turning smoothly through the harsher sections that made up around 50-60% of the course. Ian Wilkinson from the Giant Team was right at home on this stuff and made the mud bath sections that I was flagging on look easy. A big mention should also go to Jenny Copnall who annihilated the female Elite field by a cool 3 minutes. It would be easy to slate this course but it was well thought out, it was a good length at five miles but you never really ventured too far away from the arena which was also cool.
Day Two - Trek 6-4-2 Enduro racing
I had no trouble sleeping on Saturday night. A planned trip to party with the locals in Scotland's highest village was aborted as the whole of the Shred team crashed in a remote cottage, fire roaring. This was going to be a novel race for us as generally we would use this type of event to shrug off a hangover, not today... All the boys were a little fatigued from Saturday but compared to some we had it easy.
A quick brush up on the format for those that are new to this. We are talking six, four or two hour races taken on in teams of four, two or solo depending on how many mates you've got. The course got some extra length to make it more like an Enduro event, up to eight miles, and as the organisers had no doubt noticed that things were stickier than a pair of treacle underpants some grim bits were chopped out and some new bits added in.
All in all the bigger course flowed a little better. Personally I think the 'built' trails were the worst affected as they turned into gravel pits by the end of the race but other than that it was tough but hey, that's mountain biking.
The Shred team were in a four man team race and after our third place at Newnham we were keen to get our heads above the rest again. Things worked out well and we got second to the Pedal Power team who put a tidy margin into us and were followed up by the Shokwave team.
Next round is off to Sherwood Pines. We'll of course bring you our report and you can get the printed version in the next issue of shred magazine due out just about anytime in the next 2 weeks. Then the Shred summer tour heads off to Fort William for our next major XC event - we'll see you there!
For a full list of results and series info head to www.inevent.co.uk.