Scottish Enduro Series Rd 2 - Fort William
This weekend me and Niamh loaded up the Transit and headed north to Fort William for round 2 of the Scottish Enduro Series. We drove up through Glen Coe and it is always a wonderful trip travelling that road. Staring with mouths wide open at the beauty of the landscape around us. It was even sunny which kept the spirits high.
I was waiting on some coil springs arriving before I left for the race but unfortunately they didn't arrive so I have to improvise. Jonathan at Fall Line Cycles gave my Process 153 a complete overhaul before the weekend. New wheel bearings front and rear, brake bleed, new cables and a new shock just for the race. I ran the Rockshox Monarch inline shock with some heavier damping fluid and a large plastic spacer to reduce the air volume and increase end stroke ramp up. He did an amazing job and my bike felt like new.
Once me and Niamh arrived at the Nevis Range carpark, it was clear that the trails were dry so I chose to run the new Maxxis Aggressor tyre on the rear for less rolling resistance. I used the new Double Down casing and was really impressed with it. I ran the rear at 32psi but went down to 30psi for the race, despite the rocky nature of the course. I kept the trusty Maxxis Shorty on the front.
Whilst my bike was feeling pretty good, I was not. I am still struggling with a long term shoulder injury and it really affects my ability to push 100% come race day and at this level that means you'll finish mid pack which is not where I want to be.
The stages were a great mix of technical trails and pedalling sections. The race track itself was one of the better ones I have had the privilege of racing, especially with the addition of 3/4's of the famous "red" trail which was used as a final stage which made for around 8 minutes of continuous descending.
My race was pretty average to be honest. I had a steady day with no real wobbles or incidents. I was pleased to be inside the top 10 on the two most pedally stages (1 and 3) which shows my fitness is pretty good despite my inability to train properly though injury. I struggled on the more "natural" stage of 4 which was slippery and changeable in the mud. I made some silly mistakes on stage 4 and my 13th place stage result was disappointing but not entirely surprising.
I said to myself, "you can make time on 5, just find a rhythm". So atop 5 I was ready to try and climb back up the result sheet. I was on a good run, hitting good lines and catching my 30 second man. Everything was clicking until my chain guide hit a rock and knocked the chain onto the outside of the chainring. It wasn't going to bounce back on so I made the decision to coast the rest of the track until the flatter sections near the bottom. I made the decision to stop and put the chain back on. I doubt my stopping and putting it on was faster than just coasting to the finish but you live and learn. It took me a good 20 seconds to get the chain back on after struggling with the think and thin profile of the chaining. I still managed 11th on the stage but I could've been much further up the leader board.
I ended up 11th in Elite. I won't pretend I'm not disappointed with this but I also know that the field was stacked with talent. Many full time racers were in attendance and I wasn't too far off some of those guys despite my limited riding time.
I learned alot from the weekend once again and now have something to build on for next time.
Thanks to Jonathan for all his hard work preparing the bike, My Girlfriend Niamh for all her encouragement and help throughout the weekend and of course, Kona bikes for making all this possible.
Till next time,
P.S If you are looking for some photos from the event, check out Niamh's shots on roots and rain here