Last year Glenlivet was a new event on the Scottish Enduro Series calendar and there were some mixed reviews of it. Individuals threw the toys out of the pram, while other embraced it for what it was. A predominantly trail centre venue verging on the easier side of a red trail with a few stages of open hillside thrown in for good measure. I enjoyed the 2015 race and while not winning due to, well my own fault for missing a junction, I was ready to head back and see what had been learnt for 2016.
Racing Glenlivet was a last minute call after the Scottish contingent I had previously headed to the British Enduro Series with pulled out. I didn’t really fancy a 10 hour drive to South Wales myself and thinking of the bigger picture this wasn’t going to benefit me much. I thought it would be best to take the hit, drop a round and continue with my focus for the year. Entries to the Scottish Enduro was huge, yet again, with over 300 riders and in my opinion a standard of racing which dominates the UK. From World Cup downhillers, past and present, to XC World Cup podium riders, it’s paving a path for developing some real talent in the future and I’m a huge advocate of the work that Spook, Fraser and the team are putting in.
Practice was a leisurely affair, scoping the trails over a good 5 hours period and around the 42km loop. What was noticeable was the addition of stage 1, which was incredible. Fresh loamy turns which had roots and some awkward turns thrown in. The rest of the loop I though really balanced the riding out over the weekend with some further technical sections while keeping the DNA of Glenlivet firmly alive with leg-bursting stages.
Dirtschools Rab ‘Hucker’ Wardell pulled the stops out and sorted out a plush cottage for the weekend with Jeff our in-house maid ensuring we were well fed on Saturday night. My attendance at dinner was quickly cut short by noises of a film night in Tomintoul couldn’t be missed. Glen Thomson show cased his work from the 2015 Scottish Enduro Series and also aired the recent Dunoon video we shoot together.
Rage on the way to the stage.
Well rested, filled with scrambled eggs, special porridge (old fashioned oats soaked in almond milk) and a strong coffee, I gathered with the rest of the Elites for a mass start through the streets of Tomintoul. Sadly our wheelies, manuals and banter didn’t fit the humor of one resident driver who proceeded to show his rage to the 20 or so riders heading of to stage 1. A word beginning with T and ending in T springs to mind.
I didn’t feel stage one went well for me, it was a tough and unpredictable stage with its evolving roots. After some stalls in the tight corners and a few dabs I ended up 3rd on the stage; a few seconds back on Joe Barnes. I’ll take that for a decent start though.
With the sweet smell of freshly brewed coffee as we passed the cafe, a thought which stuck with me all day, the group slowly dispersed heading to stage 2. I paced this one, knowing it was a long day ahead. I paced it a little much though and ended up back in 7th. With the level always increasing you have to empty the tank every stage. The tank has to get more efficient though every year as the level at a national and international level continues to improve.
The stage everyone had been dreading, three! Just shy of 8 minutes this was a monster of a stage, perfectly helping towards the longer Enduro World Series races. I felt scrappy after the mid stage fire road sprint but from what everyone else said I think this was a common feeling. 3rd again and 12 seconds back on the Dudes Liam Moynihan and Joe Barnes who clocked equal first on 7:38! These boys have legs!
Back to the trail centre stages for 4 and 5 was a lot of fun. Hitting reds as fast as possible is a real buzz and harder than you might think. For riders who slate trail centres for races….just go and get fitter! It’s great to have a mix of terrain to race and it was a fantastic decision to return to Glenlivet and ignore the naysayers.
Approaching the last stage the thought of coffee returned (I’ve got a slight addiction at the weekends for coffee) and I went guns blazing out of the start. More for the fact the Dave Duggan dropped the hammer and showed everyone what should be worrying them. The inspiration helped and I slotted into 3rd again behind Moynihan in 2nd and Cathro who took the win.
Another consistent weekend for me and a good day riding with the Scottish contingent. Gary Forrest showed his improving form biting at my heels this weekend. I finished 3rd behind Moynihan in 2nd and Barnes taking the win.
This week should see the arrival of a Nukeproof Pulse for me. Someone thought it would be a good idea if I flung my leg over a DH bike for the first time in 4 years. See you at the Scottish Downhill Champs on Sunday in Aberfeldy!