Race Report | Scotland Crowns National Enduro Champions
The Tweedlove King and Queen of the hill has always been a real blue ribbon event for the Tweed Valley Enduro scene ever since it first appeared three years ago. Since the beginning it has gone from strength to strength, attracting faster riders, bigger sponsors and more riders than ever before. With title sponsors Endura and Whyte Bikes on board for 2015 the race promised to be a knockout. This year the event would also crown the new Scottish National Champions, and with a packed field of elite racers, it was sure to be an exciting race.
On the start list there were some heavy hitters, EWS Ireland champion Greg Callaghan, Wideopen Mag’s Mark Scott, Endura Bergamont factory team racer and local shredder Katy Winton and Enduro World Series head honcho, Chris Ball. Cube UK rider Thomas Mitchell brought us this great report from the exciting weekend of racing action.
The Tweedlove crew had laid out one hell of a course for the 500 strong start list. 40km’s in length and with an elevation gain of 1300m taking in both Caberston and Glentress forest, riders were in for a long day.
On Sunday, action kicked off from Glentress forest on the site of the old Glentress Hub, the original workshop and café at Glentress before the current peel centre was built. Seeing the derelict shell of the old workshop brought back many memories for me. This is where I first learned the skills of mountain biking and now here I was, running the number 2 number board, heading out to battle it out with some of the best riders in the world.
After a quick liaison along the Sustrans cycle path to Innerleithen and up the fire roads to the top of the ‘Golfie’, stage 1 awaited. ‘The Wolfmother’, as it was called, took in ‘New Wolf’. A well-known trail located at the top of the Golfie, every inch of its 1.3km and 235m vertical drop lovingly handcrafted by a legendary local trail builder. Conditions were fine. It was sunny but the trails had received a hammering overnight with torrential and torrid rainstorms. The ground was wet and the mud was appearing. The quick boys blasted the trail. Greg Callaghan opening his account with a stage win over Mark Scott by a mere second. In the woman’s race Katy Winton put in a commanding performance to smash the stage win. Taking it by over a minute.
Stage 2 was another Golfie classic. Community service and final fling strung together with a short fire road interlude. Another short stage with a 216m drop over 1km. That means it was steep! Callaghan ran into trouble here with a crash leaving him upside down in the trees. This left Mark Scott the opportunity to capitalise and he shared the stage win with another super fast local and CUBE UK racer, Stuart Wilcox.
Racers regrouped at the bottom of Stage 2 in the Innerleithen golf course clubhouse car park. Stories of pinned runs and close calls with trees were all commonplace. After a quick raid of the feed station riders were ready to tackle the long climb to Glentress forest. The liaison took us past Leithen lodge and over the old cattle drover roads into the back of Glentress forest. A hard climb indeed and riders were thrilled to see a feed station at the top of Stage 3 at the radio mast atop of Glentress.
Stage 3 – Physical Graffiti was the longest stage of the race. 4km’s in length and 386m of descending. It took in trail centre black sections and natural gold including Boundary trail, Five Year Plan and Deliverance. The stage was a slightly longer version of Stage 6 from round 2 of the 2014 Enduro World Series. This was the point in the race I had earmarked to make my attack. Out the gate I attacked hard and paced well up to the natural section (Five Year Plan). I caught the rider in front of me and then washed the front and crashed. All chances of a podium were gone. I got up as fast as I could but could only manage to salvage a 3rd on the stage behind Mark and Greg. Winton took yet another stage win by almost 2 minutes this time showing her experience racing the EWS’ has made her a formidable force in UK racing.
The last stage of the day, Stage 4 was a mirror image of stage 7 from round 2 of the 2014 EWS. Taking in Ewok wall, Double XX, The Bitch and Ponduro the stage was a flat out sprint on some gnarly manmade and natural terrain. Things were really tight at the top between Greg and Mark going into the final stage. Mark was first of the two to come down and took the stage win. Callaghan looked to be on a winner until the final corner where he had a head on collision with the metal barriers at the bottom of the stage. He finished the stage 3rd equal with me and my CUBE UK team mate Stuart Wilcox. Katy wrapped up her advantage in the woman’s race and took yet another stage win for total stage domination. Winning the race by over 4 minutes.
In the men’s it was a quick ride back to race HQ for the printouts to see how the dust (or mud rather) would settle. The dibbers were dibbed and the printouts printed. Callaghan had taken the victory by a mere 1 second over Mark Scott. The stage win on stage 1 being the difference. Despite having an up and down day he had done enough to bring home the win and be crowned King of the hill with his Queen, Katy Winton. Cube Action Teammate, Scotty Laughland rounded out the podium in 3rd. As for me I ended up 5th in the end. My crash on stage 3 costing me but I was stoked to be so close to the full time racers.
Katy Winton was stoked to take the win in front of a home crowd, “What an awesome weekend of riding and racing! It was brilliant to have so many women racing, some trying it for the first time and others coming back for more fun! I think its a credit to the tweedlove team for making the events so accessible and creating such a relaxed fun vibe. You can ride round with your pals and have a great day on some absolutely class trails! So stoked to take the win with Greg too that was the cherry on top of a great weekend smile emoticon thanks to everyone involved!“
We also caught up with Greg Callaghan, to see how it felt to be Scottish Champion “I had a great time racing, the stages were amazing fun and the whole event ran really well, I really enjoyed the whole weekend. I had a couple of crashes on stages 2 & 4, I tried to impress Gary Forrest who was cheering on stage 2 and ended up getting stuck in a tree for a while losing me a lot of time. I thought the race was over at that point so just gave it everything on stage 3 and managed to win that one by 16 seconds. I was pretty suprised to take the win after a bad day but I felt good on the bike and like my form is coming back. It feels so good to go fast again! and even better to be Scottish champ and King of the hill with Katy, my girlfriend being the Queen! Pretty excited for the next few weeks and some riding in scotland now.“
Thanks to Tweedlove for putting on another premier event for Enduro racing in Scotland. The work the festival has done over the years really has put the Tweed Valley area and Scottish mountain biking on the map. I’m looking forward to next year already.
Full results for all categories can be found here
Whyte Bikes and Endura supported both TweedLove’s national level enduros this year – with the Scottish clothing firm making the first-ever Scottish Champs’ jerseys especially for this race. More prizes of Endura kit vouchers, Osprey packs, locally-made Wee Cog enduro saddle-packs and Mudhugger mudguards giving the podium stars some problems carrying their booty off stage. Thanks to all those companies for getting behind these events.
Words: Thomas Mitchell Photos: Ian Linton