Friday afternoon at the Nevis Range for SDA Rd 2. Arran and I had a 4 hour car journey from home and were raring to walk the track, despite the crazy wind and heavy showers. I must say, this was an epic track walk. Bottom to top and back to bottom again in 4 hours with heavy rain and high winds at about 6pm. Should have got the gondola up! The track was looking as fast as ever and would definitely be a demanding race.
I woke up Saturday morning and it was raining…again. Oh well, it was time to get some breakfast and sign on. After standing in a massive queue to sign on I eventually made it back to our set up and fitted my number board to my bike. I knew the track here well and felt I didn’t need to do heaps of runs and tire myself out, so I started late and got 1 run before lunch then a further run after lunch. The track was riding really well but was pretty sluggish in areas so I decided to whip on some thinner tyres and lighter tubes. Big thanks to Schwalbe UK for providing me with my Muddy Marys! My TR450 and Marrzochi 888s were working amazing as always. Also my Gravity chain device, chainset and wheels were strong on the rocks. The strength of my Fi’zi:k saddle was also tested, being hung from the gondola, taking the full weight of the bike, in high winds and came out on top with flying colours. I made my way to the top again for another run and half way down, my tyre changing skills failed me with my tyre blowing off and resulting in me having to carry my bike half way down the track, missing the final few hours of practice. Not to worry, still some time before racing on Sunday!
Race day and the showers were still around. After my appalling Saturday practice of 2 and a half runs, I aimed to squeeze in 2 runs before racing started. First run down and I had forgotten how good the track was running! I had a great run which gave me some confidence I needed after Saturday. I was feeling the tiredness coming so I decided to take it easy and keep it at one run in the morning. I changed in to my race gear and wrapped up warm to wait until I could go to the top for my first race run. A quick spin on the trail bike around the car park to loosen up, I grabbed a banana and headed to the Gondola. There was talk of the weather taking a turn for the worse later on which would mean racing would be cut short to one run only. This meant I had to get in that frame of mind to just pin it and nothing else. I reached the top and had twenty minutes to kill, so I stepped on the steed and started cycling around to warm up. Twenty minutes later I was called to the start and it was time for my run. I pinned the whole top section as I knew that was where I could make up some time which would then allow me to get through the woods clean and leave me with the bottom section to stay smooth and dig deep on the final pedal. I exited the woods after taking it easy and getting through with a minor stall. I took it smooth after that until the final pedalling section. I had only made one small mistake by then and I gave it all on the pedal. As I came into the finish I heard my time with a 5:16, 11 seconds ahead of second place Stuart Wilcox. I was stoked with my run and I don’t think it could have got much better! After delays and some big crashes on course, second runs were cancelled which left me with the win and Arran putting in a solid run with a stupid mistake putting him in 8th, just 3 seconds off Dan Atherton and a podium place with a 5:12.
All in all the weekend was a success. I managed to gain confidence from a solid time and Arran was beginning to feel he was getting near the pace.
Thanks to Ian Linton for the photographs.
Big thanks to all our sponsors:
Bring on BDS Rd 3 at Glencoe in a fortnight!