After the hugely successful Round 1 of the Innerleithen Winter Series held in the Scottish Borders, the organisers decided to add a unique twist to Round 2. Not only would the riders have to race two long, rooty technical special stages, but they would have to climb back up and race them again, in the dark!
With podiums decided on the best cumulative time over the 4 runs, riders had to be pinned in both light and dark. As usual the event attracted a friendly but competitive field, pulling in a few Elite DH riders, big hitters from professional enduro teams, such as Joe Barnes and up and coming local superstars like Katy Winton. At a time of year where snow and mud are the most likely racing surface, everyone was surprised to be greeted with sunshine and dry trails, the first breaths of summer perhaps! Speeds were rapid, the vibe was fun and it was smiles all round.
James Knowles taking his new Transition Covert for its first race! Photo by Malcolm Porter (Marked MediaHouse)
We chatted to James Knowles of Summitdown Racing, who was there to race and report on the event for Enduro Magazine.
James Knowles: “Inners MTB racing have never been scared to set courses that test every element of an Enduro riders abilities and today’s stages put together by Scottish Cycling’s Paul Newnham and Katy Winton certainly didn’t disappoint.
The tracks were a real mix, including nearly all of Innerleithen’s famous, tight twisty and steep downhill tracks, there was certainly no respite on the descents on a 5-6 inch travel bike! Both stages started from the start hut, Stage 1 began with a slidy root-fest on the classic ‘Cresta’ run, but just when you thought you were on familiar trail, a fresh loamy section took you flat out over some big whoops and linked onto the fast and steep ’39 steps’ DH track. The surprises kept coming, a nasty timed climb up one of the red ‘trail centre descents’ followed by a descent down a ‘trail centre climb’, the loose flat turns were awesome! Stage 2 was a mix of classic DH, fire road sprint and a lot of the usual excellent Innerleithen enduro trails.
Katy Winton on her way to victory, a face to watch out for in 2013. Photo by Malcolm Porter (Marked MediaHouse)
The stages were long, complete runs from the top of Plora to the car park! By the time riders had practised both runs twice, raced in the day twice and in the dark twice, there were more than a few shattered looking faces in the pits!!
It was another great event from the Innerleithen MTB racing crew, with belting sunshine all day, climbing in a t-shirt, you just would not believe that it was March in Scotland! Panoramic views of the tweed valley spurred you on and the marshals and crew did a great job of manning feed stations with flapjacks and bananas etc, and marshalling the course from 10AM until 10PM. There was great banter all day, especially around the stage finish where a dirty great root in the braking zone for the dibber station was causing a few comedy spills, and a special mention has to go out to Pete Scullion from Orange Bicycles for his entertaining over the bars just 3 metres from the line, he wasn’t alone!!
Big smiles all round on the tough stages, Sophie Buckingham enjoying herself. Photo by Steve Wyper (stevewyper.co.uk)
It was a highly competitive field and it is great to see these events attracting some of the big names from Enduro World Series racing, Elite level Downhill riders and regular fast-guys and girls of the circuit. It was another awesome event and a good opportunity to test your winter speed against some of the best in the sport! “
Day soon turned to night and riders climbed back up the hill to battle it out in the dark. Photo by Steve Wyper (stevewyper.co.uk)
Innerleithen MTB Racings Duncan Nisbet said after the event; “Following the sell-out first round, we are delighted to see this round also sold out. The final round on the weekend of 30th and 31st March looks like selling out too, so we must be doing something right.
The weather for this round was unbelievably good and the tracks were running extremely well. I’d like to thank all the riders, marshals and organisers for making this such a successful series. Thanks also to our sponsors Alpine Bikes for supporting this local series.”
In the Ladies race, local star and Enduro World Series rider Katy Winton took the win by over 3 minutes from Fiona Beattie, with Sophie Buckingham taking third.
1st Katy Winton 28’ 18”
2nd Fiona Beattie 31’ 54”
3rd Sophie Buckingham 33’ 26”
Women’s Podium: 1st Katy Winton, 2nd Fiona Beattie and 3rd Sophie Buckingham. Photo by Malcolm Porter (Marked MediaHouse)
In the Junior category, Lachlan Blair took the win by under 30 seconds from Drew Carters, with Stuart Wilcox taking third.
1st Lachlan Blair 23’ 37”
2nd Drew Carters 24’ 03”
3rd Stuart Wilcox 24’ 50”
Junior Podium: 1st Blair Lachlan, 2nd Drew Carters and 3rd Stuart Wilcox Photo by Malcolm Porter (Marked MediaHouse)
In the Veteran category Crawford Carrick-Anderson took the win with Justin Grice in second and Simon Sharp in third.
1st Crawford Carrick-Anderson 22’ 27”
2nd Justin Grice 23’ 11”
3rd Simon Sharp 26’ 55”
Masters Podium: 1st Crawford Carrick Anderson, 2nd Justin Grice and 3rd Simon Sharp Photo by Malcolm Porter (Marked MediaHouse)
And so to the Seniors category. Enduro World Series rider Joe Barnes took the win with the fastest overall time of the day with Jack Reading taking second and Alex Stock in third.
1st Joe Barnes 21’ 25”
2nd Jack Reading 22’ 00”
3rd Alex Stock 22’ 49”
Senior Podium: 1st Joe Barnes, 2nd Jack Reading and 3rd Alex Stock. Photo by Malcolm Porter (Marked MediaHouse)
Full results and photos are available at: http://www.innerleithenmtbracing.com/
Many thanks to Alpine Bikes for sponsoring the series and to all the marshals and volunteers that makes the event possible. Thanks also to the competitors for supporting our event – we hope to see you for the rest of the series.
Round 3 is a standard Enduro on the weekend of 30th/31st March.
Further information and details on how to enter can be found on the Innerleithen MTB Racing website at: http://www.innerleithenmtbracing.com
Words: James Knowles / Trev Worsey
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