While at the time of writing there’s still a bit of 2006 left, we’re reasonably sure that we’re not going to do anything in the next couple of weeks that’ll threaten to knock the Merida TransWales off its spot as our race highlight of the year. Obviously we’ve forgotten about the rain and the gritty shorts now, leaving us only with memories of the good stuff. And there was plenty of that.
So it’s with eager anticipation that we bring you news of the second TransUK event – the 2007 Chain Reaction Cycles TransScotland (powered by Merida Bikes). After what’s described as “outstanding” feedback from the TransWales competitors, the TransUK team had the encouragement that they needed to take the event format another step.
The 2007 event will follow the same concept as the TransWales, with a mixture of linking and special stages. The course will use the best of the much loved 7stanes trails, linking them with some of the best riding that can be found in Scotland. Challenging trails, great views and a relaxed event atmosphere will be the order of the day. The event will start on 25 May 2007 in Selkirk and finish in the same place the following Saturday (2 June 2007).
Pete Laing, course designer of the much-loved Selkirk round of the Merida Bikes MTB Marathon Series, is the man behind the route of the Chain Reaction Cycles TransScotland. Pete says, “The course will take in the best of the Central Borders drove roads and hill tracks, some coastal riding down by Dalbeattie, the wild open country of Glentrool and exposed moorland by Wanlockhead. Slippy roots and woodland riding at Drumlanrig might catch out those brought up on the built trails in Wales and Scotland and it goes without saying that the 7stanes centres will provide a unique mix of singletrack styles for the timed stages. Expect big climbs, long stages, weather that will change daily, some mud, a smattering of back-roads links and large chunks of the Southern Upland Way, which will provide riding with an epic flavour familiar to many. Our stupendous Access Laws might also allow the inclusion of a few cheeky trails!”
The linking stages are long distance rides (40-80km) and are completely waymarked. They will test the endurance and pacing ability of each individual. There will be a pre-set time limit which every team will try to get as close as possible to without breaking it. Energy efficiency is key here which will require perfection when it comes to pacing yourself without running into overtime. If however, a rider comes in after the pre-set time limit penalty seconds will be added to the following timed sections. This requires the team to work together, making sure that their skills and equipment are up to the job and helping each other out when necessary. The special stages are themselves optional for the competitors. If a rider isn’t going for the ‘crown’ he or she can simply sit out the special stages or just enjoy them as a fun-loaded singletrack fix without worrying about the time.
The special stages will be run as either relay (one rider starts the other one takes over half way) or pairs (both riders ride together for the whole length). This is where tactical decisions are vital – who’s the strongest climber, who’s the better descender, what bike is the right one for the event, can I go flat out for the whole distance or do I still have to pace myself? These special stages will be gripping fights for split seconds and will be packed full of drama. Concentration and speed will be the order of the day as even the smallest mistake can make the difference between being on the podium or in front of it. The right choice of reliable equipment will also have a vital role as there will be no time for fixing problems, this is just speed, speed, speed!
Once again the organisers have racked up an impressive list of sponsors and supporters, with Chain Reaction Cycles becoming the title sponsor. “We’ve been monitoring the UK events scene for a number of years now and when the TransUK guys got in touch with us it wasn’t really a difficult decision to make,” says CRC’s Michael Cowan. “We’re really excited to be supporting the TransScotland in 2007. This event is more than just a normal race and we see it up there with the TransRockies and the TransAlp. We know from our customers that this is the type of event that really interests them so it’s great to give something back.”
Merida Bicycles is again joining the row of supporters, helping to provide the riders with technical backup during the event whilst also making sure that every rider receives an adequate event holdall and a quality finishing jersey that will remind them of their achievement for years to come.
“We’re very happy to work with Merida Bikes again and now also with Chain Reaction Cycles. This will allow us to take the event to the next level and iron out the small mishaps we came across during our first event,” says co-organiser Michael Wilkens. “We’ve had an enormous amount of help from Forestry Commission Scotland and the 7stanes team and with their continued support we’ll be able to make the TransScotland a permanent fixture of the UK mountain bike events calendar.”
Julie Cartner of the 7Stanes team says, “We’re delighted that the reputation of the 7stanes has attracted yet another fantastic event to the South of Scotland. The route will take in some of the best trails we have to offer – all completely different styles of trail in some of the most scenic parts of Scotland. With more singletrack being built right now, there’ll be some surprises even for those who’ve ridden here before.”
We reckon that the TransScotland is going to be a corker. But you’ll have to be quick – the event is strictly limited to 300 riders (solo or teams of two) and more than twice that number have expressed an interest already. Riders can enter the open, mixed, vets and solo category.
Further details and a downloadable entry form are available on www.mtbtransuk.co.uk. Or send an SAE for an entry form to: Mountain Bike Events Ltd, 7 Edward Road, Arnos Vale, Bristol, BS4 3ET, UK.