The observant among you will note that it is still only May, and Scotland has had a lot of snow this year. Logically, most event organisers would extrapolate from this that Glencoe – one of Scotland’s busiest ski resorts – might not be the ideal location for an enduro on the second Saturday in May. Not the organisers of the Bluegrass Enduro Tour though – if a snowfield start is good enough for the Megavalanche, then it’s good enough for them…
We’ll hand over to Hannah Barnes for her tale of the day, accompanied by pics from Joolze Dymond.
A totally unique series, the Bluegrass Enduro Tour stages are ridden ‘blind’ or unseen – riders are not permitted to walk the course or practice in advance of the race, making for a really challenging day. And Glencoe proved to be just that – with untaped sections making riders choose their own way down, a mass start and riders sliding their way through snow fields peppered with boulders.
“This is the third consecutive year of the Bluegrass Enduro Tour coming to Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands. Each year has been a huge success, and amazingly the weather has always been fantastic! It is a pretty exposed mountain and can be a wild place if the weather isn’t good, which makes it even more special when it’s glorious sunshine and we’re surrounded by snow capped mountains.
It was great to share the day and chat to so many lovely people who had all travelled from all over the UK and even Germany or Italy to race.
Being on a rough and wild mountainside with no bike trails from the top, we were racing blind down a widely taped hillside. With no trail to follow, you have to think quickly and pick the fastest and smoothest line between the gates down the hill, navigating through bogs, tussocks, snow, rocks; a bit of everything! One of my favourite elements of this race, one which is rare in enduro races, is that it is blind racing. It adds a whole new dimension and is great fun!
The final stage was a mass start in the snow, which I think was the highlight and main attraction for a lot of the riders. Just as we did for the first two stages, we took two chairlifts up the mountain, then we had around a 30-minute hike further up the mountain to the snow start.
Hiking up to the start, everyone was happily chatting with a mixture of excitement and nervousness for the anticipated craziness of the mass start! Racing elbow to elbow with over a hundred racers down a snowy mountainside is so exhilarating, sketchy and fun! Racing alongside others also pushes you to ride hard, take good lines, and try and catch people.
It was an achievement in itself to have a clean race without big crashes or mechanicals as it was so rough and physical. Everyone who came over the finish line had a huge smile on their face; it was a really great atmosphere chilling at the finish area in the late afternoon sun.
Each category winner at each race in the series wins a tree! The idea is that each person plants the Bluegrass tree, and its location is put a map to show where in the world all the Bluegrass Trees are growing. What a great idea!
From each race entry £1 is donated and then matched by MET, so $2 is donated to Qhubeka, World Bicycle Relief’s programme in South Africa. Every little helps, and maybe if more races had this system it would really make a difference!
The Bluegrass Enduro Tour in Glencoe certainly is a very unique race, and I can’t wait for next year!”