Vallelujah for the Enduro Virgin: Louise Cumming
So, I’ve been biking a couple of years now – having learnt initially with the sole purpose of being able to participate in the Durty Events 2015-16 winter Duathlon series. Since then I have managed a respectable placing at the half Selkirk mtb marathon, participated in TweedLove‘s Glentress 7 in 2016 and had a couple of shortened Enduro/funduro style races. According to my friends and partner, it was time to enter my first Enduro.
What is Enduro you might be thinking? From what I understand usually it’s based on 4/5 downhill stages, you have to get yourself to the top of each stage so some distance is involved but only the downhill sections are timed.
Sound good? Well, my lovely friends said I could join them and after much umming and ahhhing and making several dozen excuses I found I had an entry and it was far too late to back out. Time to put on my brave pants and go on an adventure….
Organised by TweedLove over two days on the weekend, the first day was practice and registration – we gathered in front of the Peebles Hydro, where the event village was based swathed in gorgeous sunshine. There were loads of people I knew – so lots of chat, catching up and a very relaxed atmosphere. After signing up I got some free goodies and personalised number board!! Which was strapped straight to the bike so I could pedal around like a small excited child. I didn’t get too excited though – being aware I was well under par on the fitness front for the distance required on race day I elected to only practice 2 parts of 2 stages that were going to require minimal climbing to get to (saving my legs was a priority). Ponduro was my no1 stop being a trail that I knew would really push my riding capabilities, having only started riding steep /technical trails relatively recently. Then my next stop was Dave’s Trail which I had never seen before.
Ponduro was as tricky as expected but I got down – despite someone having had an off in front of me and stopping to chat to the lovely event organiser Neil Dalgleish whilst he was repairing some tape, I made it safely down.
Dave’s Trail was awesome! I took all the chicken runs but I didn’t care, it was my first time riding down it and it was just so much fun – couldn’t wait to ride it again….which was fortunate since I would be “racing” down it the following day. Practice over, it was time to head home, chill out and try really really hard not to think about all the scary steep bits.
Sunday morning and race day had arrived – I actually started feeling excited despite a few concerns which had originally made me reluctant to enter in the first place:
1) my fitness for getting up all the climbs and the length of the stages. I usually have a wee rest after a section of trail but in this case 3 or 4 sections of trail were joined together to make a continuous stage. It was going to be a long day.
2) Getting in the way of big scary biker boys who were actually racing and being shouted at or run off the trail
3) being totally out of my depth and landing in a crippled heap somewhere.
So my goals were simple – get round in 1 piece, don’t get in the way and try to have fun.
Now, I can’t give you an in-depth description of every trail as the whole day turned into a big massive blur but from what I remember – the sun was shining and it was super nice to be out on the bike. I was glad of my FINDRA base layer as there was still snow at the top yet lower down in the sun it was roasting, the merino kept me the perfect temperature all day. The climbs were pretty much as hard as I expected but my pals got me through stopping to wait on me and quoting inspirational Sclub7 lyrics.
The marshals were all lovely and they let me tag straight on the back of my friends so that there was a longer gap between me and the next person. I got overtaken – lots, but every rider was happy and cheery, there was no shouting or pushiness.
I survived, actually better than survived – I rode every trail, didn’t come off or stop for a rest. I’m pretty sure I even enjoyed it! AND I wasn’t last! Double bonus!
I don’t think I’m going to be turning pro anytime soon but I do feel like I am now able to take part in these types of races with my friends and enjoy being part of it. I’m already getting talked into another and as long as I have friends who are happy to pedal around with me and it’s about having a good time with your mates, I think I’m looking forward to my next one.
Vallelujah was a brilliant first Enduro for me, it was well organised, well run and had a super friendly atmosphere. The trails did push me to my limits at times, I was definitely on the cusp of my abilities but that’s what makes it an adventure and the only way to improve is to push yourself.