To start the weekend off I drove a whopping eight and a half hours from sunny Dorset up to the Tweed Valley in Scotland. Fuelled up with Nando's I was ready to go racing!
I entered into the EWS 100 race which means we do the same stages as the pros except they repeat the first stage on race day meaning they do 6 stages and I did 5.
All I can say is this race blew any expectations that I had out of the water. The simple transition from the race village through to the first practice stage had me moaning and groaning and wishing it would end. Though I pushed through and made it to the top of mountain which is often referred to as 'Golfie' as there is a golf course at the bottom.
As I was riding down the first stage I instantly felt better about the horrendous climb I had just endured. The trail just kept twisting, turning and flowing down the mountain. Although wet there seemed to be plenty of grip and I felt really comfortable with the way I was riding.
The rest of the day was all very similar with much of the transitions being repeated for each stage. However Stage 5 was a different beast all together. After cycling for what seemed to be an eternity along the fireroad I finally reached some marshals and a taped course thinking I was as the start of Stage 5. Oh how very wrong I was. I spent the next hour hauling myself and my mud laden bike up what seemed to be a never ending near vertical hill. I finally reached the top, only to be greeted with gale force winds and rain. Oh glorious rain! I must say actually riding Stage 5 was absolutely fabulous. Fast and tight through the trees with a nice loamy base and to finish off the day I got to enjoy a much deserved cheese toasty at the cafe.
Race Day (Saturday)
I'd managed to get a good nights sleep despite the awning nearly flying away and requiring some fixing in the middle of the night. I luckily had some fresh dry kit and got myself all prepped for the day ahead despite the never ending rain tempting me to stay in bed!
I set off on Stage 1 with great pace but I quickly realised that my body was not capable of holding onto the handlebars if I maintained this pace. The stages are just so much longer than what I'm used to riding and I had done zero training and this really started to show. I therefore settled for 80% pace and hoped this would mean I could ride consistently and not make costly mistakes or more importantly not injure myself. Nevertheless I had bit of an off near the bottom of Stage 1 but got back up and carried on.
The rest of the stages had changed significantly since practice the day before, as they had become extremely muddy in particular on Stage 2 some of the bogs were upto my axles. Stage 3 'New York New York' as its known was by far the hardest. I had actually skipped it out on practice day as I wasn't going to make the timing slot, but in many ways I'm glad I did skip it, as I would have ridden even more reserved had I known how long and tiring it would be on my body.
After finishing Stage 4 I knew I had the almighty pushup to Stage 5 but at least I knew what to expect and I plowed through. I wasn't the only one sitting down to take the odd rest!
Once I had finished I was so mentally and physically drained I could barely talk and was just proud that I had finished. However on reflection I realised how awesome the experience was and that I definitely had more to give, especially if I actually did some training!!
I'm already planning on entering some more Enduro World Series races and potentially going overseas!
I would also like to give a shoutout to team rider Adam Garside who managed to get himself a podium position in the EWS Kids race.