Team Wideopenmag were out in force at the fourth round of the British National Enduro Series at Innerleithen.
With the forecast looking particularly moody for the 4th round of the British National Enduro Series and the final of the Tweedlove Triple Crown event there was an expectation from riders that there would be a tough weekend of google cleaning, bike washing and sideways sliding ahead.
The Tweedlove King and Queen event has become somewhat of a staple in the Tweed Valley and this year combined to make one of the British National Enduro Series rounds.
Chris Hutchens reports from the Tweed Valley.
Photos by Ian Linton.
With another big field of riders the Tweedlove organisers would string together a 26km loop including five varying stages. The first two would take riders up the face of the downhill trails starting with a fast, flowy (mostly) trail with Gold Run, Deerhunter and Cresta Run. The fire road sprint was long and lung busting. The next stage was one of interesting debate.
The Classic finish with an uncharacteristically tricky upper section. Starting deep in the trees from the top of the hill the trail meandered, surprisingly fast, through some dense trees before hitting a challenging muddy section which not only caught me out but also downhill superstar Danny Hart. This is where things got confusing. A neutral zone, at the start of a downhill section.
This would link you to the black XC route where the timing would start again along the greasiest trail most had probably ever ridden. This usually runs well but all weekend trails would have a strange slime on top making trails very challenging to ride.
This neutral zone, from what I gathered, was not supported and a full continuous run would have been preferred. Still trying to work out why this was put in. This was a tough stage for many in the end.
After a feed station in Walkerburn the following three stages would make up the second half of the route, almost to the meter both vertically and in distance. Stage 3 was a technical delight. Roots, steep turns and rocks. I would put money on it that no one got down here without a momentary tripod.
Stage 4 would use community service a trail that has been on the hill for years but not raced that often from what I can recall.
A final big climb up the face of the Golfie trails would take riders down a leg pumping combination of 3G, Rock n’ Roll and Plan B to finish. It was a physical loop once all stages had been added up.
While the weather forecast threatened a 50% chance rain for most of the day riders were rewarded until about 3pm with dry (in the sky only) conditions. The tracks barely dried out and remained slick all weekend. I don’t know if it was just me but I struggled to find grip and find confidence on the bike all weekend.
Racing got underway, One man who certainly found some traction was Wideopenmag rider Christo Gallagher. He’s had a run of results at events in the valley this year and would ensure he stamped his mark with a clean run on a recently healed broken ankle to put 15 seconds into nearest rival Sam Shucksmith. Danny Hart would put some awesome stages together but lost it all on stage 2 with a couple of big crashes.
Thankfully one of our biggest hopes for a medal at the DH World Champs left at the end of the day in one piece. With Christo taking the win on the day he also secured the Triple Crown and become King of the Hill.
Full results from the British National Enduro Series fourth round and the Tweedlove King and Queen of the Hill can be found here.
Joining him as Queen would be Jess Stone. She’s had a superb year as well and put in 40 seconds to the closest women rider who happened to be under 21 rider Polly Henderson. Polly took a stage win during the day, which was impressive to see. Watch out Jess.
The U21 category was really healthy with Irishman Harry Byrne putting in a time which would have challenged for the Masters podium and almost Danny Hart’s time.
My race was mixed during the day with some clean stages mixed with a series of crashes, typically on the last corner of the stage. Did I switch off or just forget how to ride by this point? It was certainly a good weekend and always great to spin around with the rest of the riders, catch up and hear about summer adventures.