This weekend saw the Bergamont / Vittoria team head to Innerleithen for the British Enduro Championships as part of the three-week-long Tweedlove Festival.
The race was a big one - firstly there was the small matter of a UK champion jersey being up for grabs, and secondly the Tweed Valley is home to numerous EWS pros. Our Elite rider, James Purvis, fresh from working a 10 hour night shift would have his work cut out competing with the field littered with full time pro riders. Our other Elite rider, Louise Ferguson, was out with injury but decided to join the team for a weekend of good vibes while Master rider "Skinny Mick" decided to don a race board for the first time in 9 months!
Upon arriving at the venue on Friday night, we had a quick look around the Tweedlove paddock - the expo was incredible with so many big name brands in attendance, kids racing taking place and some real feel-good vibes. We also knew that Friday was an open practice day, leaving us a day behind many other riders who had been out sampling the stages. Still, we weren't too fussed as we met up with old friends for a few drinks in Peebles before starring in earnest.
At 52km, the loop was long so we decided to shuttle between climbs on Saturday while ensuring we GoPro'd every stage to try and play catch up with the other pros. With changeable conditions, we were swapping between the Vittoria Mota and Morsa throughout the day, before eventually deciding braking was crucial on the steep terrain at the technical Golfie stages and settling on the aggressive Mota.
After a trouble-free practice session, albeit long one, we again headed out for some team food before heading back to our hotel, where the local karaoke continued until 2 am in the morning.
We'd discovered on Saturday afternoon that both James and Mick had unfavourable seedings which meant that overtaking was going to be full on, especially for James on race day. And so it proved - with a 08.30 start James passed 3 riders on stage 1, and 3 on stage 2 where he had a wee crash in the process of an overtake. All the same, he held the lead for a prolonged period of time until the seeded riders started to go faster than him. In the masters Mick was holding his own - setting a top 5 time on stage 1 and top ten time on stage 2 - and beating names such as Alan Cooke. Not bad for a guy who never races!
Disaster struck on stage 3, where an exploded rear mech took Mick out of the competition and the chance to turn a few heads was gone. With Louise cheering on from the sidelines, Mick joined in the fun as we headed for a swim before getting back to the live results to see James set 5th fastest time on Stage 4, despite passing 3 riders and clinging to a 7th overall, in a good battle with Chain Reaction Rider Elliot Heap.
Being a team run on a passion for racing, we appreciate all the support we can get and the Bergamont UK crew had kindly allowed us to use their space this weekend, making a huge difference to usually servicing out the back of our vans. We even had time to watch the World Cup downhill finals in the pits before watching James coming oh so close to losing it on stage 6 before making a recovery and settling into an 8th place in the senior category. At just 19 this was a pretty mega result for James, though we do wonder what might have been had he had clear runs down the stages.
Ultimately this is one of the reasons we've come to love Enduro, where we can give it our best shot taking on the full-time riders and get to ride and compete alongside top EWS pro racers.
The event was incredible, the trails sublime and we'll be back for more!
Next stop will be the SDA at Innerleithen this weekend... see you there!