A CLASSIC mountain bike enduro race was born at Innerleithen last Saturday, writes Ian Linton.
Two stages were raced in the afternoon’s unseasonably fantastic weather, then – after fitting lights onto bikes – the exercise was repeated in the dark.
For those not familiar with the enduro race format, it’s somewhere between XC and downhill racing, but leaning more to downhill.
The idea is to cycle your XC or all-mountain bike up to a designated starting point and be timed from there to the finish of that stage. Then you can make your way back to the start point of the next stage at your leisure, but not too slow as there are shut-off times for each stage, then you race against the clock for that stage.
Stage one took competitors all the way up to the top of Plora Rig for the beginning of a high-adrenaline, rugged terrain course, while the second section was a classic mix of the more flowing, easier downhill tracks.
All credit to Rich and the crew from Innerleithen MTB who have done a great job getting this track to where it is now.
With around 120 riders of all abilities entered, this proved how much interest there is in this kind of racing – from ex-world cup downhill racers to mere novices out to enjoy the relaxed, laid-back approach to this event.
Racers were put into four categories – from under-19s to over-40s.
First place in the U19s went to junior Scottish downhill champ and world cup rider Joe Connell with an overall time of 19min 24sec for the four stages. Second place went to Jake Hood from Peebles (19.46), while Lewis Kirkwood (21.31), riding for Bicycleworks, got the third step on the podium.
Next up were the women (there were 11 taking part) and it was The Hub Café owner and rider Emma Guy who took the win with a time of 24.34. Runner-up slot went to a young British Cycling Team XC rider from Peebles, Katy Winton (25.25), with Lesley Ingram (Glentress Riders, 26.18) third.
The over-40s were out in force and it was former world downhill racer Crawford Carrick Anderson (20.09), Marcus Jones (20.36) and local engineer Phil McGrath (21.06) who occupied the top three places.
The men’s 19-40 category is probably looked at as the leading class and it was Peebles lad and current National 661 Enduro champion Gary Forrest, on his Orange 5, who took the win here with a time of 18.00. Second was Keith Buchan (19.29), followed by Dan Darwood (20.05).
Organisers are grateful to Innerleithen MTB for putting this event on, I-Cycles’ Steve Deas for the track choices, and Full Beam Lights and Hope Technology for supporting the event.