When it comes to racing heritage there can be few locations in Scotland that rival the steep sides of Plora Rig, Innerleithen. With trails established for well over a decade, the steep, natural tracks have seen the wheels of many a WC downhill champion. With a rich history in track building, an extensive network of tight, technical hand built trails wind down alongside the purpose built downhill tracks. Riding the muddy, steep and technical trails it is easy to see why there is a wealth of talented young riders currently emerging from the Scottish Borders.
Innerleithen has become the spiritual home of Scottish Downhill, and has found fresh focus with the birth of Enduro.
5 years ago the community supported organisation ‘Innerleithen MTB Racing’ formed, initially holding popular XC races. The sheer potential of the area combined with the motivation of the organisers and support from the local community, has seen events grow to host everything from the iSX Downhill cup to some of the best grass roots enduro events in Scotland.
The 2013 Alpine Bikes Innerduro Series offers a great start to the racing season with 3 exciting events, two conventional timed stage enduro’s and one day and night enduro. The first event of the series was the Round 1 enduro held on the 2nd -3rd February, offering awesome tracks, cheap entries, simple but effective timing and a great opportunity go against the clock early in the season.
Local rider James Knowles gets to grips with the new trails cut in for the Enduro event.
With many stumps, roots and rocks, practice day was essential to get those lines dialled
The end of practice, time to get the bikes cleaned down and set for an exciting days racing.
With the special stages a well guarded secret until practice day, around 180 riders headed up into the forest on Saturday to see what the trail builders had created. The course consisted of 3 long timed stages (7+minutes), 1000m of climbing and descending, and at only 12.6 miles, a fair bit of steep climbing on the transitions. The hard working diggers behind Innerleithin MTB racing have never been afraid of putting in something really, really steep, and true to form the formidably precipitous ‘Classic’ descent on stage 2 had been upstaged by an even steeper muddy plummet on stage 3 called ‘Barts Track’. A collection of super tight corners linked by a muddy luge resulted in a fair bit of foot out action and comical tree hugging. The trails were running well, muddy but tacky and it was clear that a lot of hard work had gone into making the trails flow. It was not all gravity assisted though; there were a number of sharp mid-stage climbs in the stages and an exhausting long boggy pedal on the entry into stage 2, anyone without a dropper post was certainly feeling the burn, and momentum was key.
A fair amount of rain fell overnight, so riders were keen to see how the tracks were running
Race day dawned with blustery wind and a short lashing of rain, early risers peered out of car windows with an amount of trepidation. Fresh puddles on the car park indicated that it was going to be a lot wetter and discussion soon turned to whether to head straight up the hill and get on the trails before the rest of the riders, or hold off and let the masses cut a smooth line through. The long climb up to the top of the stages soon separated out the crowds and there was plenty of good banter on the hills. The stages had held up well, with plenty of mud, roots and rocks benefiting riders who could let loose in the slippery conditions. The really steep sections became a fast slide to some or a foot out scrabble to others, and most riders had a few comedy spills. Overall everyone had a great time and there were plenty of good vibes and excited chatter at the finish.
Local rider Brodie Hood pinned, on his way to take the win in the Junior category
It was not all muddy, the final stage finished on the fast machined trails of Caddon Bank
Mud, sweat and tears, there were plenty of pinch flats today from the sharp uncovered bedrock.
The weather stayed dry and most of the stages were sheltered from the wind. A big shout has to go to the marshals who kept everything going, and stood out all day in the cold, and the feed station at the top was a welcome distraction.
Marshals worked tirelessly in the cold to ensure the event ran smoothly
A sign of a day well spent.
The overall winner on the day was Gary Forrest, who took a huge chunk of time from tough competition to take a victory with a total time for the day of 22:08 minutes, over 2 minutes faster than the second place rider. Riding for the first time on his new IBIS MOJO HD, Gary will only get faster and with a 10th overall at the 2012 Finale Ligure SuperEnduro already under his belt, he will be a rider to watch on the 2013 international circuit.
Open Mens Catagory: Gary Forrest (22:08) took the podium and the overall win by a clear margin, watch out for this name on the international enduro circuit this year. In second was Chris Buchan (24:45) and third Calum McRitchie (25:09)
In the Women’s race, Helen Gaskell took the win with a time of 32:25, with Sarah Newman (33:25) in second and Emma McRobb (40:53) in third place.
Podium regular Crawford Carrick-Anderson took the win in the Veterans in a time of (23:59), with Justin Grice (26:35) and Patrick Bruce (26:53) in second and third.
Local racer Brodie Hood took the win in the U19 category with a time of 27:42, with Scott Lindsay (30:52) and Donald Rogers (31:24) in Second and Third
With amazing trails, great organisation and good weather, Round 1 of the Alpine Bikes Innerduro Winter Series marked another great event from the Innerleithen MTB racing crew, further demonstrating that when it comes to Enduro, Scotland is certainly moving in the right direction. With events like the Innnerduro, it is clear that great things are happening in Scotland right now and organisers really have a feel for what makes Enduro great!
Enduro Magazine representing in the UK
The next round is a day night enduro held on the 2nd – 3rd of March, for more information about the Innerduro events or Innerleithen MTB Racing check out their website
Words and Photos: Trev Worsey