This was going to be our first ever Enduro event and we were a bit nervous and excited all at the same time. It’s a long old way from the South Coast up to Kinlochleven and the fuel bill was going to be nuts, so we got two mates to come along and spread the cost.
It was two weeks before the race and we only had a mild steel prototype version on our ‘Enduro’ bike made. This meant we would have to make at least one of the production versions in order for us to race. We also only had enough of the build kit for one bike… Once all the tubes etc. was ordered for the frame, I was left with only a week (after work only) to make the frame and get it painted. Luckily (or unluckily depending on how you look at it) on the Wednesday before the race I was made redundant so I had the whole of Thursday to get everything done.
I finished welding the frame on Thursday morning, gave it a couple coats of Halfrauds clear lacquer in the afternoon.
While it dried I drove over to Jors at Whisper Bikes in order to pick up the parts I didn’t have in order to turn this thing into a bike. Jors is proper sound and sorted me out with everything I needed from wheels, to Camelback, to GoPro! Legend, couldn’t have done it without ya Dude! Once back at mine it was time to start building the bike. I finished it and gave it a little scoot (no cranks) at 2am Friday morning, before packing the toolbox and going to bed. Up at 7:30 to pack the van and leave for Dartford meant I was pretty drained!
I drove the van to Dartford and chucked the two bikes and all the kit in Jamie’s car, while Tam caught the train from his part time job in Cardiff in order to meet Matt in Leicester… The two cars would then meet on the M6 somewhere for a convoy the rest of the way. We arrived at Tam’s parents house near Fort William at round 11:30pm where we were greeted by a horse and a sheep that would not get out of the driveway… Defo not in the south anymore ha ha
On Saturday morning we finished off building the bike with the remaining parts we scrounged and headed over to the race Venue! We got there a little late but as it was practice day we didnt stress and got signed on and took a leisurely pace up the hill in order to have a go at stage 1. It was a very rocky and rough trail so we stopped a few times to check out some lines.
I followed Matt in one section which turned out to be a treat as he took a comedy slow motion stack over the bars. Stage 2 was only a short climb away and was a much shorter stage than stage 1. It was a load less rocky and even had a bit of a climb half way through! We were all pretty damn cold and hungry by now so we got some food and tried to warm up inside. Matt decided to skip a practice run of stage 3 as he was cold to the bone, before we got to the climb I made the same desision. Turns out we both made the right choice, because as I got back to Matt’s car the heavens opened with hail and all sorts! Not long after this Tam and Jamie were at the car too. So we all missed a shot at stage 3 in practice! Uh oh
We headed back to Tam’s parents, where we all crashed out. We were just totally knackered from the drive the day before, and the cold and wet just took everything out of us. We made sure we got up nice and early on Sunday and ate a good energy filled breakfast, in the hopes it might help us out during the day!
The queue at the top of stage 1 was nuts! Waiting in the Scottish wind and rain for over 30 min was a good test of character and a tough way to prepare for a race run. At least we had that view over the Loch to help keep our spirits up! The stage went well for me, I managed to stay on, keep a good pace and not get too knackered!
I had to get off and push on that climb in stage 2 as I got a wheel spin on the go half way up and just couldn’t keep it going. Luckily the rest of the stage went sweet! We decided not to have a break between stage 2 and 3 this time in the hope we would stay warm from the previous stages. Tam and Jamie had made a bit of a gap on Matt and I as they had the fitness to get up the hill quicker than us. Matt decided that enough was enough, he was knackerd from top to bottom, and still had to drive home that night. I agreed that it was probably best he skipped it, as in the state he was, he was only gonna nail himself. So I headed up alone! About half way up I hit the wall, and thought about how much of a good idea it was for Matt to stay in the warm of his car! As I passed the top of stage one the weather hit, rain coming in sideways for the rest of the climb! By the time I got to the top I was ruined. This stage was the longest and most technical of the three and none of us had practised it! I didn’t want to hang around at the top, I just wanted to get down and out the cold. So I cleaned my goggles and lined up, still panting from the climb. The track was sick though, taped super wide there were hundreds of line choices though huge ruts. I stacked in a sharp right hander that was about 2in deep in sloppy horrible mud. My hands were covered so I wiped them on my trousers and carried on. Lucky I have them Renthal Kevlar grips on cos I didn’t have any trouble gripping the bars! About half way down the track I had to pull over and have a rest for a couple seconds, I was breathing out my arse and my arms were killing me! By the time I got to the bottom I had nothing left, barely enough energy to get back to the car park. There was some dude with a HUGE handle bar moustache who kept saying “that was the best thing ever to happen to Humans”, all I could think was “My Arms, aaarrgggghhh”
All in all it was a fantastic event, and not even the horrible weather could dampen my spirits, which for me is a mirricle! The bike handled great! I was super impressed with how easy it was to pedal up the hills, I never pedal up hills but on this thing it was fine! After riding the Belter for DH, it took a little getting used to the steeper head angle on this thing but it was a trooper on the DH. Not once did I feel uneasy in that gnarly Scottish rock, which is more than I can say for some other ‘Enduro’ ht’s out there, on my local trail…
Keep ‘er Sideways