The start of a fresh season is definitely upon us in the UK; new bikes, new kit, and of course plenty of races on the calendar. Things have been a little slower to start this year than they have been. This has been the lingering effect of several bad winters and cancelled races causing organisers to postpone the start of their 2013 plans in case of bad weather arriving. So far though it’s all seemed rosy, and it continued that way for Borderline Events’ 25th race in the organisational chair. As always, Innerleithen is a great venue for a race no matter what the weather with the hard stony ground proving to be the ideal partner for year round racing.
With so many trails to choose from it’s always good to see a little local knowledge brought in to plot a route and on this occasion came that came from Suspension Centre’s Lewis Buchanan who couldn’t live much closer if he tried. Linking together a technical start and the tried and tested traverse from a bygone winter series, the course was taped wide open for plenty of line choice albeit through some pretty tight tree gaps in palces. Not great for photographers in the dark trees, but it was certainly great for the majority of riders. The bottom section was fun, flowing and drifty on some loamier turns that began to cut up as the weekend progressed. A few tricky final turns then separated riders out and caused a good number of crashes for the spectators at the finish.
With most of the uplift provided by NorthernDownhill using their ever efficient minibus & trailer system there were only a couple of queues around lunch. This is almost always the case when the full sized coaches have to stop for their enforced lunch breaks and every rider seemed to want on the hill at the same time. The NDH uplift is also significantly less likely to damage your bike when you’re getting to the top which makes it a pretty win-win system; fast and damage free.
So with good weather, a great track, and plenty of riding, there was no excuse for not knowing the course come Sunday when racing got underway. As always there were no shortage of excuses when things went wrong but very few of them could be attributed to anything other than operator error, rather than ‘the trees were too tight’, ‘I had the wrong tyres on’ or any one of the multitude of other excuses heard over the course of the two days.
In Juveniles, Sam Mathieson took third place for Inverness based Monsterbike, run by ex-World Cup rider Mark Maciver. Second place was I-Cycles' Corey Watson, with the win taken by Oli Whitehurst with a lead in excess of five seconds on a 3:47. Youth saw a significant jump in times, with RST Racing's Brad Swinbank taking third with a 3:17, just behind Frazer McCubbing on a 3:14 and James Purvis another quarter of a second up the road. In Junior, Morgan Gulland and Ruarish McRitchie were separated by just a second in third and second place respectively, while George Gannicott layed down the rubber on the start line and took the win on 3:10 for his new Dirt-Norco team.
It’s not long ago that veteran would be a huge category at any race but this seems to be waning a lot recently, is it the effect of Enduro taking off? There were slim pickings this weekend with just five entries in the category but that didn’t stop Justin Snell taking third, or Dave Ingleby and Conrad Slack fighting it out for top spot with Dave finishing up just three seconds adrift of Conrad’s 3:48. Now not many will remember the name Paul Garrett but if you were racing at the tail end of the nineties you just might. Dave Wardell was hard at work to bring the old dogs out fighting, and ninth place in Masters was none too shabby given the level of competition, and this being one of the few races he’s done since competing at the Sierra Nevada World Champs in 2000 as a Junior! On the podium John young took third with a 3:20, not far behind the 3:17 of second placed Rob Pollock. It was Wardell who took the relatively uncontested win with a time of 3:02 which would have placed him just off the podium in Elite.
In the under 18 womens category Gemma Taylor was third but it was second placed Lauren Beaty riding for Animal, and winner Lottie Mallin-Martin who set times (4:42 & 4:29) that would have seen them take first and second in the senior women’s category too. In the over 18’s Sandra Scally took third with Rhona Stewart in second, just four tenths shy of Janine Wolstenholme’s 4:47 in first.
In Expert, Billy Matthews took to the third step of the podium in Expert with a 3:12, just two hundredths down on second placed Mitch Skene. Calum McRitchie was just ahead of the pair with a 3:11 to take the win. With a new sponsor on board, and a new bike, Brayton was riding hard for Hope technology, just failing to break the three minute barrier. This left Jack Reading to take second with a 2:57 having just fallen short of the 2:55 needed to beat local Lewis Buchanan riding the new 650B Intense M9 for SC-Intense.
Although there was a slightly vocal contingent of riders over the charge of £1 when collecting numberboards, doing so raised over £200, a sum which was subsequently split three ways between the Tweed Valley Mountain rescue, the Jayfest Foundation (set up in memory of local racer Jaymie Mart), and the Rider Down Trust. They’re all good causes and every little helps them do what they do so well. Next up on the Borderline Events calendar is Round Two at Caersws on the 16th & 17th March, followed by Round One of the Northwest Series at Farmer Johns near Stockport on the 31st March.
Thanks to Northerndownhill
for providing the uplift, all the marshals, and of course Borderline Events
and everyone else who made the event happen.
Check out RootsandRain
for full results.
Images by Marked Media House