Sunday, 16 June 2013

Sharing the Tweed Love - a Glentress 7 Race Report

Couple of short and sweet little blog reports this evening. The first up is about a very, very enjoyable seven hour endurance race I did a few weeks ago up in Glentress. The unambigeously titled Glentress 7 offered mountain bikers the chance to race a really rather impressive 6.5 mile course, with over 400 metres of leg splitting climbing per lap.

Travelling up from Norwich to the Scottish borders is never really a quick trip, but the luxury of a big pick up truck and lots of nattering about general mountain biking helped speed it up on the Thursday. The mountain bike community of Glentress really put on a spectacular week of events under the Tweed Love banner. On the Thursday night, we were lucky to catch a cinema screening of a video competition for short films about mountain biking in the Tweed Valley, followed by the Red Bull-sponsored feature documentary Where The Trail Ends. This left us feeling rather inspired by beautiful cinematography of insane descending and the inside of numerous A&E departments. The two seemed to go hand in hand.

Friday gave us a chance to pre ride the course, but instead we opted to mis-read signs and, inadvertently, do an extended explore of some of the Glentress trails. This involved quite a bit of fire road work (yawn), and by the time we had reached the top, we weren't feeling particularly inspired or challenged. But then we found the main descent and were buzzing.

The following morning, when we set of racing, we soon discovered that the course was in fact a rather perfect mix of short, sharp fire road climbs (which were never particularly long - not easy - but not too long), then followed by awesome singletrack. This repeated until we reached the highest point of the course, and then that's when the magic happened. A set of swooping single track soon developed into a steep, tight, rooty, off camber descent to the arena area, routed through the dual slalom course.

This was my first endurance race since Kielder last year, so I wasn't really sure of my form, but I felt reasonable and notice a marked improvement on my technical riding at race pace, compared with previous years. All good! Until…

…one of the little single track sections that you drop in, I was "thrilled" to discovered that squeezing my rear brake lever no longer did anything to my rear brake! As luck would have it, the ground broke my fall, and my mouth expressed my mood with a set of historic phrases. I soon realised that my brakes no contained no pads - brilliant! I managed to cruise some of the way down using just the front brake. Another crash, and a failure of SOH, lead me to push the bike down a section. One of the marshals said they could radio in and it would be ok for me to go down the access road to the start. Turns out, the access road was about a billion miles longer and by this point both brakes had failed. Hmmm!!! At the area, I discovered a piston had gone missing from my rear, as had my motivation for more racing. When I remembered I was racing Mountain Mayhem in a couple of weeks, I decided there was no real point burning myself out for a decidedly average result, so I decided to save my energies for another battle!

Despite this, I absolutely loved everything about Glentress and have this event on my calendar already for next year.

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