SOME of the best enduro riders in the country swooped on Innerleithen last weekend for the opening round of the Alpine Bikes 2013 Innerduro Series.
The event, organised by Innerleithen MTB Racing, was completely sold out weeks in advance and Forestry Commission Scotland’s 7stanes Innerleithen mountain bike trails at Traquair Forest came alive as competitors and spectators gathered to experience this exciting style of mountain bike racing.
Riders followed a course of around 20km, with three special timed stages and over 1,100m of climbing/descending. The cumulative time for the predominantly downhill stages would determine the winner.
Competition was expected to be fierce among the 170 or so riders, with local enduro expert Gary Forrest joint favourite with mountain bike legend Crawford Carrick-Anderson in the men’s event and three of the UK’s top female enduro racers in Helen Gaskell, Sarah Newman and local rising star Katy Winton battling for the honours in the ladies’ event.
The course itself had something for everyone. A real mix of manmade and handcut trails, flat sections, steep sections and even the odd climb.
As usual at Innerleithen, there were roots, rocks, drops, jumps and enough different mud types to keep a pedologist satisfied for days.
Race day came and things were hotting up enough for the mud to defrost and become more of a feature than on practice day. In the ladies’ race Winton was forced out with illness, leaving Gaskell and Newman to battle it out, the former eventually taking the win by a minute from Newman, with Emma McRobb third.
In the junior category, local lad Brodie Hood took the win by more than three minutes from Scott Lindsay, with Grantown’s Donald Rodgers third.
In the veteran category, as expected, Carrick-Anderson took the win from Justin Grice, with Patrick Bruce not far behind in third place.
And so to the seniors category. Forrest, riding a new bike, took the win with the fastest time of the day and the fastest stage time in all three stages.
Chris Buchan came closest to take second with Calum McRitchie taking third.
Round two is a day/night enduro on Saturday, March 2, with round three, a standard Enduro, on the weekend of March 30/31.
Visit www.innerleithenmtb racing.com for more information.