We made it to Whistler! Me and Niamh have been hitting up laps of the bike park. We loved riding B Line and I even gave A Line a go which was fun, although easy to overshoot the jumps. It is hot and dusty and the park is so rough! But we're having a blast nonetheless. I unfortunately snapped my axle on Crank It Up and hit the ground hard. I'm really sore but fighting through it. The Pole is in a local shop getting fixed and hopefully it'll be sweet for racing. Fingers crossed
Canada Rough Cuts Ep3
I've been in Squamish a few days now and I'm really enjoying the riding here. I did plan on doing a few uplift runs, however these plans were scuppered as the air quality is so poor. There are forest fires raging north in Kamloops and smoke is blowing down and into Squamish. The air quality has taken a turn for the worse and there are not very many people out on the trails. The evenings are happily a little better, I met up with fellow Pole ambassador, Adam Price, who lives out here in Squamish. He's super quick and showed me some cool turns. We hit turn after turn until the sun went down. Another day ticked off in paradise.
Episode 2 of Canada Rough Cuts takes place in the tranquil forests of Squamish, BC. This is the first time I've ridden my bike in a few weeks and it is also my first time riding in Canada. What a day! It was hot out there but I got some good exploring in and rode some cool trails. Small mishap attempting to launch a gap but these things happen when you are excited sometimes. Enjoy!
As some of you may have noticed, I am in Canada! I'm out here for the Enduro World Series and to ride all the best that BC (British Columbia) has to offer. Me and my Pole EVOLINK 140 made it safely across the Atlantic traveling in the finest of luxury on British Airways, as you do. Pole asked me to document my trip so I have decided to do a few "rough cut" edits following me on my journey from the big city of Vancouver to the quiet forests of Squamish. So join me on my adventure through "the most beautiful country in the world" (apart from Scotland, of course.
That's me just back from round 3 of the Scottish Enduro Series in Dunoon. Dunoon is always a good venue and the trails there are super challenging. After a quick practice lap, I knew this race would be a wild ride. Stage 3 was fresh cut goodness and did what all good fresh cut stages do before racing, it became very, very, very difficult to ride. But we're a hardy bunch us enduro racers and complaints were at a minimum.
I came into this race with only one real objective, to finish it. I have suffered some bad luck at the races recently and I was keen to simply get a race finished. Practice was pretty uneventful apart from the midges. They tried to eat me and almost succeeded. We're all lucky I'm still here to tell the tale. They were vicious. I used my GoPro to capture all the stages. This is a new thing for me. I don't usually film the trails because I'm not normally one for using technology. I like to keep things "old school" when I can but I do recognise the benefits technology can have in our everyday lives. So I've made the move to filming all stages and studying them the night before the race to help me remember lines, or in some cases, spot new ones. I have included a little video which gives a flavour of the riding in Dunoon.
As far as the race goes, I didn't have the best of times. The cool thing about Dunoon is stage 1 is a mini prologue through the heart of the town. It is always nail biting but super fun. Unfortunately I had a bit of a stall and was already on the back foot loosing 5 seconds on a stage less than a minute long. The "proper" stages were up and down. I had a pretty good stage 2 which was flat-out open clear-fell. Scary fast!
Stage 3 is where things turned. I ploughed into the first turn and got caught in the rut and was pitched me over the bars. My gloves had mud all over them and I tried to continue but I had another over the bars firing me into a rather large puddle further down the stage. It was sad times and I lost over 1 minute on this stage alone. I knew at this point my race was pretty much over but I kept battling on.
Stage 4 I was keen to put the tribulations of 3 behind me and I was going well until some sniper roots got the better of me and I went down, hitting my face and tweaking my shoulder in the process. Despite this my spirits were still high and riding round with all the Elite guys was great fun. Stages 5 and 6 were ticked off without incident and I was pleased to get some good riding in. Stage 6 was one of the more terrifying things I've ridden as of late. You can see in the video just how gnarly some of it was.
All in all a fun although slightly trying weekend. Huge props to the No Fuss team who run these events. The Scottish Enduro Series has a perfect balance of grass roots feel with world class competition. The level is so high right now at these races and its always hard to compete with top level athletes but I love these races and will keep trying to improve.
Big thanks to Fall Line Cycles for getting my EVOLINK 140 feeling like new and The Drop Suspension for dialling in the shocks. I have a small break now but will put that time to good use with lots of post work rides and maybe even a few roadie spins.
Till next time!
Leo (Pole CEO) has made the trip over to Scotland to visit new Pole ambassador, Thomas Mitchell. He will also be competing in the up coming Tweedlove International race along with Thomas this weekend. Leo is quickly getting to grips with the famous trails which litter the Tweed Valley. Both Thomas and Leo are riding Pole EVOLINK 140's but they each have very different set ups. Racing kicks off on Sunday so stay tuned to find out how they get on.
Thomas Mitchell signs with Pole Bicycles
Tweed Valley pinner, Thomas Mitchell, has signed with radical Finnish bike manufacturer, Pole Bicycles. Famous for their unique take on mountain bike geometry and sizing philosophy, Pole have made significant waves in the MTB industry with glowing reviews of their flagship bike, the EVOLINK 140.
As soon as Thomas first tested the bike, he knew it was something special, “Being one of the taller guys in the Enduro scene, I have struggled to find a bike which works for me in terms of sizing. I would go so far as to say that I have never had a bike, which fitted me properly, that is, until I tested the EVOLINK 140. Immediately, I felt right at home and I can’t wait to get racing.”
Pole Founder and designer of the EVOLINK, Leo Kokkonen said, “We’re really excited to have Thomas join the Pole team. I look forward to seeing what he can do with the benefits that our bikes will bring.”
Thomas will be piloting his EVOLINK 140 at the No Fuss Scottish Enduro Series and select rounds of the Enduro World Series along with additional selected events throughout the year.
Thomas is proudly supported by Troy Lee Designs, Fall Line Cycles, The Drop Suspension, CrankBrothers, Ergon, Orange Seal and Cycle Law Scotland.
You can follow all his adventures at @tfmracing on Facebook and @thomasmitchellofficial on Instagram.
This weekend I was in Pitfichie for the second round of the Scottish Enduro Series. Located a few miles north of Aberdeen, Pitfichie is a well-known riding destination for those who work and live in Europe’s oil capital. Despite spending 4 years in Aberdeen at University, I’d only explored Pitfichie twice in all the time so I didn’t know what to expect.
Saturday practice confirmed that the trails here are rad. NoFuss Events had chosen some awesome stages and with the help of Chris Hutchens, a long time supporter of the area as a top riding destination and top elite racer, the stages were some of the best in the series yet. This was of course aided by the copious amounts of dust, loam and sun. Hardly any mud was spotted which made for a nice change.
I felt good throughout practice and my bike was feeling on point after getting a pre-race service from Fall Line Cycles.
Race day came around and me and all the other elites set of for stage 1. This meant a four or five mile road ride to the mouth of the forest before climbing the steep hillside to access the first stage. It was about halfway up this climb that I realised I’d forgotten my timing chip. I couldn’t believe it and rode back to event HQ as fast as I possibly could. I got back and collected my timing chip and headed for stage 1, hoping to reach it before it shut.
I made it just in time but was pretty tired having sprinted up the climb and done the road ride twice. I gathered myself and set off down stage 1. I was angry at forgetting my timing chip initially so I channelled that anger into my riding and rode the top half of stage 1 quite well.
All was fine until I hit a rock, or something immovable and my bike made the most awful noise. I carried on but saw the chain was now off and wrapped around my crank arm. I coasted to the finish and looked at the damage.
My chain had impacted on something on the stage and there were now 5 or 6 stiff links. This meant I couldn’t pedal without the chain skipping or derailing and it was in danger of snapping at any minute.
I made the difficult decision to abandon the race after only one stage. I was really gutted as I wanted to ride the rest of the awesome stages but sometimes things go wrong and “that’s racing” as they say.
I’m remaining positive and looking forward to my first EWS of the year at the end of next month. Bring it on!
What a weekend at Tweedlove Vallelujah. Tradition usually dictates that this early season race is wet, muddy and generally miserable. Despite the torrid conditions of years gone by, it has always been a race where you see rider after rider with a huge smile on their face. However, this year we got a special treat, the sun came out! A wave of high pressure was sweeping across Scotland, turning the TweedValley into the Costa del TweedValley. To coin a popular weather presenter phrase, it was “scorchio”.
The venue chosen this year was Glentress, a popular trails centre nestled right in the heart of the Valley. Glentress was once hailed as the “best trail centre in the UK”, possibly even the world but as time has marched forward, Glentress has not. Many of the trails have suffered as a result of the centre’s own popularity and success and now braking bumps, drainages issues and rough tracks grace much of the forest. So when someone tells you Glentress is not technical or difficult, they are simply wrong. Riding these trails at race pace is a high stakes game. You can generate a much higher average speed on trail centre terrain than you can on natural terrain and if you get it wrong, its not soft mud you’re hitting. It’s a hard, unforgiving, wind-dust / gravel combo which you have to pick out your wounds one pebble at a time.
I was pretty confident to get this one underway as trail centre is usually an area of my riding repertoire which I would consider top notch. However in the days leading up to the race my rear shock gave up the ghost (after a total of 2 weeks ride time) and I was left with no replacement. Thankfully a last minute replacement was found and the guys at Fall Line Cycles got my steed tip top for racing. The new shock was very different so I was not starting things off on the best foot. But my goal was to stay positive and forget about the negative things and focus on the positive things. In terms of race set up, I changed my pedals from my usual Crankbrothers Mallet E's to the smaller Candy pedal for maximum pedalling ability.
The stages were a great mix of physical and technical riding. The course dried out nicely and I had an awesome time out riding with my pals. My plan of attack was to cruise stages 1,3 and 4 and attack on stage 2. Stage 2 was the longest and with its limited gradient, I knew I could potentially go fast. All was going well after stage 1 and I started stage 2 with my strategy of attack firmly in mind. I was riding well and paced things nicely until, “BANG!” a sharp edge caught my rear wheel and I still had a long way to go till the end of the stage, but I’d already completed the majority of it. I threw caution to the wind and tried to ride it out on the rim. I struggled to get the flat tyre moving and it felt like my wheels were made of lead. I finished the stage dejected and thought my race was over. I put my spare tube in the wheel and decided to carry on to finish the race.
In the final 2 stages I pushed hard with my weakened wheel and ended the day in 4th in senior and 6th overall which was ok all things considered. I was pleased to get some good points and despite my mechanical troubles, at least finish the race This race was a great indication of my fitness and I’m pleased that all the work and training I put in over winter with my coach, Phil Mac, is paying off.
There are so many things I’ve yet to get sorted this year but it is great to have a good marker in the sand as to where I’m at and now I can focus my goals more. Big thanks to Fall Line Cycles for the mechanical support, CrankBrothers for allowing me to have great options for pedals and everyone else who helps me along on this journey. Next up is Scottish Enduro Series Rd 2 in April.
Till next time,
The season kicked off in Fort William last weekend and it was a tough old race for me. With a new and unfamiliar bike beneath me and despite having a couple of weeks testing pre race, I was still rather unsure of it. Before heading north, I stopped in at Fall Line Cycles to collect said race bike which had been given the full works and I was greeted with a lovely care package full of OTE gels and Muc-Off cleaning products to keep the bike sweet. Me and my intrepid sister traveled up to Fort William together on the Friday night after a day at work for me and a day at Uni for her. Eireann (my sister) was joining me because she is writing her dissertation on the differences between racing and training for elite level enduro athletes. This mean't me and alot of my friends were going to be her guinea pigs for the weekend.
We stayed at Torlundy House which was lovely. The weather for practice day was actually sunny. I didn't need my jacket the whole time which is rare at the SES races. It was great to see many familiar faces and some new ones too. Practice involved the usual methodical process for me of going through each track slowly and figuring out lines. This was an easy task for most of the day with the exception of stage 4 which was a contentious one for many people, including myself.
Race day rolled around and the weather was a little overcast, but for March in Fort William, it was delightful. I went up 10psi in the fork and 7psi on the rear shock to help cope with the faster speeds of race day. I felt in practice things were a little soft and upping the air pressure gave me more support on the bike.
I won't bore you with details of a turn by turn account of how each stage went so instead, I have decided to do a few lines for each.
Overall I managed a rather disappointing 15th. I can't quite put my finger on why things went south for me. Sometimes you just have those races you'd rather forget. I'm encouraged that my fitness seems to be in the ball park.
More time needed to focus on set up and getting comfortable on a new machine. It's always hard adjusting to something new but I'm enjoying the challenge and process. I have the first TweedLove event of the year coming up next week and another opportunity to put the bike and myself in a race situation.
If anything, I learned alot this weekend and will work towards imporving next time. Big thanks to Fall Line Cycles for their support. Alot of people are wondering who I am riding for this year, fear not. All will be revealed in good time.
Till next time,