I’m not good at Cycling events. I’m better on the ‘wrong’ side of registration, usually in a Tweedlove volunteers shirt and playing to my strength. Talking.
I did the Glentress 7 a couple of years ago, with 2 BFF’s, just to say we had done it. We even had a case of Prosecco to ‘help’ us round. I didn’t drink a drop. I couldn’t. I couldn’t even eat for about 3 days leading up to the day. Such was the state of my nerves. I got round it, did my 2 laps, didn’t let my pals (or myself) down but with every pedal stroke was the mantra ‘I hate this, I hate this’. I love being on the trails, on my bike, with my pals, but not this.
And then this year, Tweedlove (Tweed Valley Bike Festival) introduced the Enjoyro – a ‘taster’ Enduro for people who’d like to give the format a try, and as long as they were accompanied by an adult, it was also open to 12-14 year olds. I convinced myself that my 13 year old son would love to do it with me and signed us both up in the Generations category. The chance to cycle the trails with him, and for him to have to wait for me occasionally, was too much to resist.
No nerves in the build up, just really looking forward to the event. Perhaps because it was all on trails I know well and ride regularly but mostly because when I said I wasn’t ‘racing’ I meant it. I was just so stoked to be riding it with my boy.
Having said that, on Friday evening the nerves did kick in. But it was manageable. A bit shaky following Rohan down the ramp of the event stage but very grateful to the pals who came to cheer us off. I could really have done without Janet’s Brae to start proceedings but then I can always do without JB. It NEVER gets any easier to climb and I only grow to hate it more every time I do it. But thanks to the Friday Morning Posse, I do it, weekly. Bitching and moaning all the way. Between snatched breaths.
Rohan kindly waited at the top for me to make it up. And then kindly waited longer till I could breathe again and then we were properly off. Up to the top of Stage 1 and my favourite trail in Glentress. It may only be a blue, but ‘Berm Baby Berm’ is my happy place. Riding it always makes me smile.
FINDRA pal Louise was behind me and my determination not to let her catch me, pushed me down to the fire road and end of Stage 1. One down, three to go.
A wee push up onto Cardie Climb to head up through Buzzards and on to Blue Velvet – the start of Stage 2. The longest of the four stages with a good mix of terrain taking in BV, the end of Hoh Chi Min, onto Zoom or Bust, cutting across into the Skills Loop and onto the Horse Trail. Which finished BEFORE the climb out onto the fire road. Definitely one of the high points of the evening – not having to pedal out of there BMX style with no dropper post – result!
A pattern starting to form in our dynamic: take it relatively easy on the climbs and the reason for doing the event – pedaling alongside my boy and chatting. Well, in so far as a 13 year old chats with his mum. But hey, I filled in the gaps. Then hitting the descents as fast as this old lady dared, so he wouldn’t be too bored waiting at the bottom.
We had a bit of a wait before starting Stage 3 – unfortunately one of the kids taking part came off and rightly the marshals closed the course so that he could be moved to safety. In the spirit of the Enjoyro, and in my experience of mountain biking in general, there were no cross words or frustration. The riders queuing just got to know each other a bit: chatting about the event, bikes, the breeze preventing midgey attacks and, just at the point where it was getting a bit chilly, we were back in the game. Which was just as well as the Sweeper and Mr Tweedlove had just arrived on the scene and things were getting a bit lippy…..
This was the Stage I was least familiar with. Despite knowing both trails, I had no idea how or where they connected, so a bit of blind faith was needed for this one and some pedalling on tired legs. But I had to keep up the pace – there was going to be a lanky boy getting cold at the bottom. And I don’t mean the finish Marshall Johnny.
One more big climb back to Buzzards but it wasn’t Janet’s Brae.. A lovely evening and a lovely climb. There’s something about when the trail opens up at the black skinny that gives me pause every time I reach it. No matter the weather or time of year, coming out of the trees and looking along the valley towards Peebles reminds me how fortunate I am to live in this place.
Only Stage 4 to go and like every other teenager taking part, mine was no exception – he was itching to get onto Dave’s Trail. My only hope was that no-one would be hammering down behind me so that I could make an unpressured decision on the Bombhole. Up the Lungbuster and along to The Fort, a push up to the start with 5 riders ahead of us, then 4. 3. Still no one approaching. 2,1, Rohan and still no one behind me. There was hope.
I missed the ‘tricky’ entry – no bad thing – and it looked like I was on my own on the trail. By far the most challenging stage of the evening for me, having only been down it 3 or 4 times and coming off most of those times. A week earlier being no exception when sessioning the Bomb Hole.
But there was no one behind me so what the hell. Look ahead. Look ahead. Over. Complete the berm and it’s done. Bomb hole? Tick.
Shame I ate it on the next rooty bit……….. Picked myself up, 2 deep breaths, back in the saddle and kept going. Straight into a wall of cheering from pals just before the chute – thank you x
The last few metres was all that was left, only this time it was not just Rohan waiting for me at the end, but my riding Buddies – Ruth and fellow FINDRA Ambassador Kim. A real sight for sore eyes!
I was on a total high – I barely remember the pedal back to Tweed Green with my boy. Race end and the last dib and then engulfed in a hug by Mrs Tweedlove and Susan J, with my other 2 boys grinning at me. Absolutely buzzing.
I know I’m on my own for the event next year – Rohan will be 14 and doing it on his own. But that’s just it – I’m already talking about doing it next year. But I still won’t be racing.
If you want to read more race experiences from the FINDRA team: Vallelujah for the Enduro Virgin