Photo copyright of Laurence Crossman-Emms
Where Cromwell’s followers threw down the Pillar of Eliseg riders converged to throw down their gauntlets on one of the steepest downhill courses in Europe. Spoken by many of the seasoned pros as being steeper and more technical than the World Cup course in Champery, the plethora of photography and action videos that soon followed were simply not doing this venue any justice, you had to be a participant.
Come the end of the first practise day several riders had given up, packed away their belongings and headed home, defeated before even the racing got under way, I was not one of them, this was my debut race for The Development Racing Team and I was armed with my new FTW Industries bike, Si Paton had set the ultimate challenge simply to survive and I aimed to!
The whole course was unbelievably steep, the top wooded section was a full-on technical onslaught where even the pros were being cautious. I took it easy on my first few runs, getting to grips with not just the course but my new bike’s characteristics, needless to say it was railing.
Photo copyright of Sarah Barrett
The weather on Saturday wasn’t too good with torrential downpours, however the track dried out pretty damn quickly due to it’s gradient. No real hard spills on Saturday, sure I had a few offs as did most but no damage, all in I was feeling good.
Come Sunday the weather had changed for the better, it was kinda crazy how much the track had changed though, the rain the previous day had helped smooth some parts out somewhat in other sections it had exposed some nice big greasy roots to separate the men from the boys!
Mr Sunshine soon popped out and the seeding got under way, I was feeling confident, hit all my lines and crossed the line in second place.
I was elated with that, once back at the pits I grabbed my BMX and chilled out with my mates for a bit.
Soon I was back in the start gate ready for my race run, after that beep I hit the top section hard suddenly realising how much the course had changed from earlier in the day, it was crazy! Spectators were congregating where the biggest spills were happening and I didn’t let them down taking a few tumbles, gutted! But hey, at least I got cheered! Once out of the woods I absolutely railed the lower open sections, that bike of mine is a beast! Crossed the line in 11th place and I’m very happy with that considering.
Photo copyright of Isac Paddick
It was a fantastic weekend, some good laughs with my mates and my hat is off to Si Paton for putting this course together, it’s certainly proved controversial. Next up is the National Championships at Innerleithen, see you all there.