The weekend of 15th/16th September saw around 130 competitors descend on the island of Raasay in the Western Isles for the inaugural Raasay Rumble. Promising 10 hours of racing round a technical XC course with the added spice of shoreline ridgetop singletrack, a prologue lap taking you round the local peak of Dun Caan and technical primes – short technical sections or obstacles to challenge the riders – it promised to be more challenging than the usual race circuits.
Friday saw sun beaming down on Raasay House, the base for the weekend, and lulling everyone into a false sense of security in advance of Saturday’s race. For come Saturday, the heavens opened and the rain came, along with howling winds. With moments until the start, the word came out – the prologue was canceled due to the conditions, to be replaced by a shorter version that avoided the exposed climb and descent round Dun Cann.
With that news sinking in, the race commenced with the first batch of riders leaving the start and starting the climb on the prologue. Leaving the tree cover, we were greeted by a strong headwind and the slog began. The course then descended towards the shore via some steep singletrack that, after a short sheltered climb, spat us out into the full force of the wind coming inland and the accompanying rain.
A short road connection then took us to the coast singletrack. Skirting a ridge on a tree-lined singletrack, we exited on to the exposed coast and felt the full brunt of the weather. Hugging the shoreline, the course snaked round the exposed shelf on underwear-browning cliff-edge singletrack, taking us back to the start/finish line. And that was just the opening loop…
After this taster, the proper course started, which took us away from the house and up the appropriately named “Whoer of a Climb” before entering Raasay Forest for singletrack goodness. Swooping through the trees on natural singletrack, riders were treated to steep drops to one side, evil climbing and some stunning scenery before joining the singletrack descent back to the shore.
As the day progressed, the weather worsened and conditions started to get grimmer and grimmer on the seve- mile course. Bikes and riders were being hosed down between laps, sections started to turn into hikes and some riders started to give up. However, the majority of riders chose to try and press on and remained in good spirits and, in spite of the worsening conditions, a diversion on the course because of the aforementioned weather conditions and competitors bikes being gradually ground into dust, 8pm finally came and the race was over.
It might sound a bit horrible time, but it was actually just the opposite. The camaraderie and chat on the course was fantastic and, while it suffered due to the conditions, the course was excellent with many challenges for the riders. Organisers Phil, Gary, Steve the trailbuilder and the staff of Raasay House all deserve our thanks for what was a great event.
- Solo Male Andy Cathcart
- Solo female Jenn Hopkins (who also won first solo singlespeed)
- Solo male singlespeed: Dean Taylor
- Male pairs Team Stroopwaffel (Simon Hicks/Robert Brooks)
- Mixed pairs Team Sciennes (Geoff Martin/Clare Morrison)
- Mixed trio Keep yer Feet on the Fecking Pedals (Gillian Buchan/Duncan Brown/David Mitchell)
- Male trio FyrishBikes.com (Gordon Mackenzie/Darren Shearer/Kyle Gordon)
- Female trio Team Teacake Lassies (Gemma Frier/Lucy Downie/Louisa Gowrie)