Alpinebikes Winter Series Rd3
Innerleithen was the place to be at the weekend for the last of the Alpine-Bikes winter series, which was held in what can only be winter conditions. Saturday saw practice held in pretty good if not damp conditions to start with but the sun shone for most of the afternoon. Steve from I-Cycles taped a cracking course for this weekend’s final downhill race in the series. Starting from the hut at the top of Plora rig you headed straight on towards a tight root infested steep section that caused most people a few problems over the weekend, ending with the very steep chute where you had to pick your line through the stumps and rocks before dropping down onto the top fire road. From here you headed down to the 39 steps but took a right in the clearing down through another steep twisting section before peddling down the push-up trail to join the drop zone. After the big rock drop you had a tight right into a section that’s not been used in years which brought it’s own troubles to the modern DH bike fashion of wide bars, a nice twisty tight section through the tree’s spat you out into the fast motorway section dropping into the arena. A fast drop down through here saw you slowing down to a hard right at the bomb hole down into the steep gully, then some of camber turns down into the bottom gully over the road and into the finish area in about 4 minutes or less for decent time.
Racers from all over the UK and Ireland were entered for the last in the series and this meant it was over subscribed and the organisers Innerleithen MTB did their best to squeeze in as many late comers as possible, due to only having uplifts pre-booked for 150.
Where Saturday’s practice finished in glorious winter sunshine Sunday morning brought a very unwelcome covering of around a couple of inches of snow on the higher levels, luckily it fell on very wet ground and didn’t hamper the early practice session too much. Come the afternoon the sun made a welcome return for the start of the race, which saw the usual 2 race runs and the best time from the 2 counting.
Local world cup elite rider Lewis Buchanan made a return to riding after surgery to his shoulder over the winter, 3 days back on his cross country bike and he was only 0.3 seconds of the podium in 4th place behind Nukeproof rider Greg Williamson in 3rd, 2nd place went to Harry Heath with Santa Cruz Syndicate rider Josh “Ratboy”Bryceland taking the win.
Katy Winton from Peebles who is currently riding for the GB cross country team has taken a liking to this downhill side of the sport by getting on to the podium again this weekend in 3rd place behind her riding buddy Bex Reilly with Fox rider Angela Coates taking the win.
The young juvenile class saw Innerleithen’s Ross Swinton riding for I-Cycles taking 3rd place behind the young Alastair MacLennan, 1st place went to Grizdale MTB’s Sam Merkel.
Youth’s winner today was Nukeproof’s Ben Kennedy ahead of Scott Tupper with Drew Carters taking the last step on the podium in 3rd.
MTBcut’s junior rider Fraser McGlone was back on form after breaking his arm late last year taking the win over Christopher McGlinchey who managed to pip his Nukeproof team mate Dan Sheridan into 3rd place.
Master category saw Ticket2ride’s John Young take the win over Ibis Cycles enduro rider Chris Buchan, (the man that didn’t use the uplift’s and cycled to the top) with Mar Gibson in 3rd.
Last but not least Keswick Bike’s Justin Grice pipped David “Tally” Tallontire into 2nd with the older Alastair MacLennan in 3rd in the veteran men’s class.
Big shout out to Alpine-Bikes for sponsoring this series, I-Cycles man Steve Deas for setting out some of the best courses seen for years and Innerleithen MTB for putting on the events, next big event from them will be the European iXS cup round here in Innerleithen on June 16th-17th.
Full results and all the photos from the weekend can be found here on Roots and Rain