As part of the Tweedlove festival week, there was a seven hour endurance race held at Glentress. Two days before the race I decided to enter the solo class, otherwise known as the nae-pals category.
To course was the best endurance course I’ve ever ridden. A fast smooth up to the Buzzards Nest car park, a small section of muddy descent at Pennel’s Vennel, followed by a huge climb back up to do blue velvet. A natural link took you into one of the old race links, then down a natural descent before the final off-camber descent to the transition area.
On the first lap I stayed below threshold, knowing there was a lot of riding ahead. I was in the first couple of riders, and took the front on the second big climb without putting an effort in. I came through the transition area in first, so it looked likely that my goal of getting the fastest lap was already dealt with.
On the second lap I sat with Iain Nimmo who was riding pairs, usual great banter from him on the way round. It started to rain on this lap, just lightly, but enough to grease things up a little. Unfortunately leaving the transition area for my third lap I slid-out on the first corner at fairly low speed. I got back up, and with encouragement from the likes of Martin Graham I got back on the bike and kept going. I had lost some skin from my knee and elbow, by hip and shoulder hurt, and for some reason the opposite thumb was agony.
For the third, fourth and fifth laps I went round with Martin Graham. We were doing good pace, keeping Rich Rothwell within striking distance. The rain continued, and things started to cool down. Before the sixth lap I stopped to put a Gilet on and take on more food than normal, so I lost touch with Martin. No problem, I was just riding to finish now.
On the eighth lap I came across Martin in one of the feed stops, looking very cold and sore. He’d caught Rich, but then crashed on the final descent at the end of lap 7. Nasty. As I was talking to him I notice Barry Wilson riding by, but didn’t really pay that much attention to it. I continued on that lap, went out for a ninth, and finished in six hours and 51 minutes.
Rich won the overall, and was first vet. Barry was second overall, first senior. I was third overall, second senior, plus I got the fastest lap.
A great day out, I really hope they do it again next year as it is great antidote to all the dull endurance courses out there. I’ll definitely consider support next year, as having to stop on every lap to pick up food and the likes cost a fair amount of time over the whole race.
The aftermath: The next morning I went to A&E to get my thumb checked out, nothing broken, but a partial-rupture of the ligament. Two weeks off the bike with a splint. I can ride again now, but certain situations make it pretty sort, I just have to be careful. Decided not to enter the British XC Champs as a result of this. These things happen.