Darkness holds no fear for the Innerleithen night riders

Gary Forrest was right at home on the Innerleithen track, even in the dark. Photograph Ian Linton.
Gary Forrest was right at home on the Innerleithen track, even in the dark. Photograph Ian Linton.
Share this article

AN EXCITING race format not often seen in the UK was the highlight of the second round of the Alpine Winter Series held at Innerleithen last weekend.

Following the huge success of round one last month, Innerleithen MTB Racing brought us a Day/Night Enduro in Traquair Forest. The format involved riders making their way around the forest with two special timed stages. The same stages were then ridden again once darkness had fallen – riders using lights on their handlebars and sometimes their helmets to illuminate the track ahead. The cumulative time for the four stages would determine the winner.

Conditions for the day delivered everything expected from a Scottish winter, with stunning sunshine and blue skies, broken by the occasional snow flurry accompanied by a chilling wind.

Special stage one began with a fast descent from Plora Rig over loamy ground, interspersed with roots and rocks to keep the riders’ attention. A short climb on a forest road led to a tight, technical section that spat the riders into a quarry at the bottom of Taniel Hill.

Riders then climbed gently through the forest and back to Plora Rig for the start of special stage two. This stage took in various sections of some of Innerleithen’s finest downhill trails as riders made their way down the hill for a big finish through the bombhole into the arena at the bottom of the forest.

After a break to take on board fluids and hot food, the riders set up their lights and headed up the hill to do it all over again in the dark.

Leading the way with the fastest time of the day (20 minutes and 19 seconds) was veteran rider Crawford Carrick-Anderson (Ibis/POC/Crank Brothers) with local lad Gary Forest taking the seniors’ title in 20.49. Angela Coates (The Development/Fox) took the ladies’ win in 36.27.

Duncan Nisbet of Innerleithen MTB Racing said after the event: “The Enduro race format is very popular with riders as was proved again this weekend with another event sold out. The feedback from the first two rounds has been extremely positive and we aim to take that into the final round next month.”

Organisers wish to thank Alpine Bikes for sponsoring the event and supplying prizes, all the marshals and volunteers, without whom the event wouldn’t have happened, and to Steve Deas at i-cycles for the course design.

Round three of the Alpine Winter Series takes place on the weekend of March 3/4 and is a traditional downhill event with uplift. This event also attracts British Cycling ranking points.

Further information, full results and details on how to enter future events can be found on the Innerleithen MTB Racing website at www.innerleithenmtbracing.com

Round two results summary – Ladies: 1, Angela Coates 36.27; 2, Zoe Beesley 39.45; 3, Jenny Jack 40.01.

Juniors (under 19): 1, Lewis Kirkwood 22.50; 2, Jake Hood 24.33; 3, Niall Morrison 25.09.

Seniors (19-29): 1, Gary Forrest 20.49; 2 Scott Laughland 21.38; 3, Paul Aston 21.58.

Masters (30-39): 1, Chris Buchan 20.54; 2, Keith Buchan 21.01; 3, Stuart Nicholson 22.31.

Veterans (40+): 1, Crawford Carrick-Anderson 20.19; 2, Justin Grice 21.43; 3, David Tallontire 22.20.