SDA Rd5 Innerleithen
Where did the Summer go? Round 5 of the SDAs felt more like a winter race than a summer series! Luckily Inners is pretty much a year-round weather-proof venue, and although the course was muddy there was plenty of grip to be found due to the hardpack rocky nature of the soil. A few folk were trying their luck with cut-down mud tyres, the majority were on the standard High-Roller-type tyres, with a few brave souls (including super-fast Joe Barnes) were rocking full-on dry/rocky tyres (in his case Minions front and back)
What of the course though?- from the start you dived into the trees as per usual, exiting at the top of the quarry, but instead of going down the quarry and over the road-gap, the course went through a tight (too tight and slow?) S-bend around some trees and went straight on to the road and onto Make Or Brake. Down through here and over all the jumps (including a double/single/double, unless your name was Gary Forrest who was triple/doubling it!) and then a slightly controversial switch over to the end of The Tunnel. I say slightly controversial as it seemed to rob your speed at a crucial time, just when you needed it to power up the slight incline before commencing down the open switchbacks. More switchbacks led you over the second fireroad crossing and into the tight woods section. This section was quite dark by comparison and there was nowhere to easily remove a tear-off as by now you were struggling to see through mud-splattered goggles. Exit the tight woods and into more steep switchbacks and loose rocks that were catching a few riders out (myself included!). A quick blast over the road and in to the finish-line. All over in about 4min if you are mortal and under 3mins 20secs if you are not quite right in the head!
On to the racing- Juveniles were off first with Frazer McCubbing (Ae7 bikes) grabbing the win and putting a massive 15 seconds into second-place Rowan Carpenter who was four seconds up on third-place man Neil Stewart.
Youths next, and again it was a Wilcox 1-2 with Ross taking the win from brother Stuart both riding for local bikeshop i-Cycles, (I bet Stevie Deas was pleased!). George Gannicott (Bikesoup/Gravity) took third place, just a smidgen behind Stuart.
Vets now, and the old guys showed they can still shift with Alastair McLennan (Nukeproof) victorious over Neil Wilson (Glentress Riders) in second and Steve Felstead (Ticket2RideBC.com) in third.
The Women category was very well represented with 12 riders vying for top place. In the end it was GB’s young cross country rider Katy Winton (Kineses/Morvelo) who took the win from Bex Reilly (Uplift Scotland) in second place. Angela Coates (Fox Racing/The Development) rounded off the podium in third.
Masters was another category that was a family affair, this time it was the Whitfield brothers of Jed and Chris (both riding for All Terrain Cycles) who took top honours with Jed JUST pipping Chris by two-tenths of a second! Dale McMullen (Chain Reaction Cycles) placed third with both runs down to the same second!
Crazy fast Juniors next and it was another blistering time from Joe Connell (Sunn/Montgenevre) that almost netted him the fastest time of the day, just under half a second down! Second place went to Lewis Buchanan (Chain reaction Cycles) who seemed to cruise over the finish line as opposed to third place man Fraser McGlone (MTBcut.tv/Orange) who was pedalling like a madman over the road crossing! Talking of Juniors, one has to wonder why British Cycling didn’t take a full roster of Junior riders to the Worlds in Champery? First year Juniors like Connell and McGlone could have really benefitted from the experience and would be in a better potential medal position next year. If BC want more Danny Harts, they have to realise that they have to put the groundwork in at an early age. OK, rant over!
On to Seniors now, and it was a blast from the past, as Gary Forrest (fresh from an Afan Enduro win) took first from Dave Young in second and Kenta Gallacher in third. To make this even more incredible Gary was rocking his Orange Five! The other Seniors must be wondering what to do when a few pert-timers turn up and beat the entire field. Seriously impressive stuff guys!
Experts were next off and it was Ronan Taylor who took the win, riding for Monsterbike Inverness, with a blistering 3.19 first run time. Scottish Champ Dave Duggan (Haven/Devinci) was second, three seconds back and Joe Flanagan (All Terrain Cycles) was third
Finally, it was time for the crazy fools, sorry Elites! Joe Barnes (MTBcut.tv) took the win with a unbelievable 3.11 first run time- just mental fast! Second place and only 1 second down was Greg Williamson, who seems to be getting faster every day! Third spot on the podium was taken by Fergus Lamb, riding for Perth City Cycles.
All in all a good weekends racing (thanks as usual to the SDA) despite the weather, the question is however, will the sunshine come out for the next (re-scheduled) round in two weeks time? GlenCoe in October?-Hmmmm, we shall see!
Over and out,
Ian “Dirty Boy” McIntosh.