The Alpine Bikes Tweedlove cycling festival got under way last weekend with the POC King and Queen of the Hill enduro race. And what a weekend! Wall to wall blue skies greeted racers who’d come from all over to compete in this five stage enduro event, as well as to just enjoy the Tweed Valley. We sent Chipps up to report on it…
The ‘Slightly Scared Singletrack’ enduro team arrived late on Friday and checked into the Tontine Hotel, bang in the middle of town. The action was all happening the next morning just across the road by the side of the River Tweed as riders all signed on, perused the goodies from sponsors 2Pure and POC and then drifted off to check out the courses, liberally spread over Glentress and Cademuir forests.
There were five courses, all around the forests, ranging in difficulty and flavour. From the bermy blue-run delights of Stage 1, the rocky black-run plummets of Stage 2 and the very challenging rooty madness of stage 5, they all showed different characters and tested riders’ all-round riding skills. Not to mention the 40km of total riding over the day.
The woods were full of riders out, taking in a trial run of as many stages as they had the legs for, on the Saturday. The sunshine and sheer warmth did prompt more of a laid back approach and there was a lot of lounging in the sun evident too.
Action pics by Ian Linton.
Sunday dawned less sunny and slightly cooler, but the rain that threatened to make the polished roots even more slick never materialised (until the Monday anyway…) It was time to get to the start and line up. The racers had 15 minute windows in which to line up and dib-in onto course, but it all seemed to be working so smoothly that by our 11am start, there were very few riders left to make it down the start ramp (after the traditional start-line grilling from commentator, Iain Withers)
The race was pretty quiet at 11am, and we’d heard that Gary Forrest was already on his way to stage 4 before we’d even started… After the bermy delights of stage 1, it was on to the long climb to stage 2, where we found a line of racers, waiting to head off.
Stage 2 was much of the Glentress Black run down from near the hill top mast and allowed riders to get some sustained speed. The long climb back up to stage 3 then gave riders the biggest descent of the day, all the way back to Janet’s Brae and lots of opportunity to make, or lose, time on the way.
Then it was over to Cademuir Forest for stages 4 and 5. The climb up to 4 was long, but with the horror stories of the tight trees and polished roots, we were in no hurry. Luckily, there was a pretty established groove in the ground by the time we got there so it wasn’t too hard to keep on line, even if there were no speed medals to be won.
The climb up to Stage 5 involved pushing straight back up the hillside. At least it didn’t take very long, though some trail-side cramp was in evidence. Stage 5 was also a natural-feeling descent, often used as a local downhill, with a lot more soft ground, slick roots and opportunities to catch the unwary. All that remained (after a welcome banana from the finish marshal) was to zip back into town for the sprint to the finish.
And who won all the racing? I’ll have to defer to the official release as they’d all been back for hours while I was still out on the course… In the overall race, Gary Forrest took the men’s title, winning all five stages and with an obvious point to prove after a disappointing debut in the Enduro World Series in Italy the week before. So it was probably pretty satisfying for the Ibis UK rider to take nearly a minute out of EWS Director Chris Ball, who had to settle for second place. And Crawford Carrick Anderson celebrated his 43rd birthday with third place.
In the women’s race Emma Guy took the honours, with just three seconds separating her and last year’s Queen Katy Winton. Third place went to Lesley Ingram, who was pleased to podium after puncturing early in the day.
The route featured 1350 metres of climbing and some of the best downhill sections ever created in the valley. Although it made for some tough riding conditions and a few mechanicals, the general consensus amongst the riders was the level was just right, with most making it home within the five hour time limit.
After the race Gary said: “This race meant more to me than the Enduro World Series, even when I was in Italy last week I was thinking about King of the Hill. I’m really happy to have won on my home trails, it means a lot. And what about Crawfy and Chris – not bad for old boys eh?”
The overall King and Queen were crowned – Emma Guy and Gary Forrest. Both locals who fought hard for the win.
Full results are here and here’s a great video from the day.
Don’t forget, there’s a full week of events still going on in Peebles this week. Check the tweedlove.com website for more details.
The pro-bike Tontine Hotel still has vacancies for £40pppn (sharing) for this midweek and weekend if you’re going to impulse travel up there. And why on earth wouldn’t you?
We’re already clearing schedules for next year’s event… It’s definitely a must-do.