Claire Bennett - British Enduro Series Round 5
Written 17/10/2016 by Claire Bennett
Cannondale British Enduro Series round 5 Innerleithen, Scotland.
Last round of the series had us heading up to Scotland to the beautiful Tweed Valley. Having raced two rounds of the EWS in the tweed valley I knew we'd be treated to some of the valleys best steep, technical trails. I was excited to get out riding.
Saturday: Golfie day
Awaking to a chilly morning, I hooked up with Lucy, Rich and Andy for practice, making the climb out from Innerleithan up onto the infamous Golfie for stages 1 & 2. The views from the top where stunning, it had been dry for a week and the weather report as looking promising for race weekend. Stage 1, Repeat Offender, a super long, sustained, twisty, rooty trail. After putting in a about three pedal strokes at the top that was it, gravity fed the rest of the way. Popping out back at the golf course we made the climb back to top for stage 2, Waterworld. Steep! Crossing the stream most the way down, rocks strewn, steep craziness! Awesome trail.
And that was it, done for practice. Spinning back to the Innerleithan DH car park we refuelled and got ready to head out to race.
Racing was soon under way, after making the climb back up to the top of Golfie we where soon racing down stage 1, the trail was soooo dry, it was bliss! Such a physical stage, I felt really pumped both in the legs and the forearms when I punched out the bottom of the stage. With no hanging about it was back up to the top again, 50 mins later atop stage 2, with only 3 minutes to spare! Quickly sorting out the googles and helmet it was time to sprint down through the heather and into the dark woods. Taking the next bit steady due to the steepness and consequences of falling off weren't so great! I stalled on the uphill section, poor gear choice! Apart from that I made it down the tricky stage without issue, mega happy! Racing done for day 1!
Sunday: Innerleithan day
Another chilly start to the day and completely covered in cloud we made the climb up to stage 3, popping out above the cloud on our way up. The valley looked spectacular, a huge cloud inversion blanketing the bottom of the valley.
If you've gotta be up and out riding by 8.30am on a Sunday morning views like theses and the company really do make it worthwhile! Turns out this was the calm before the storm. The storm being stage 3!! The interestingly named Prospacker! With a steep drop into the stage it want long before the steep, tight turn after turn came. Just when you think it can't get steeper it does! What a wild track! It mellows out half way down but you've still got to stay switched on, a couple more steep turns followed by a bit of a pedal on some soggy, muddy roots to finish. Phew! Made it, then that feeling that often happens "oh no, we've got to race down that now!!!"
Putting that to back of our minds we made the climb up to stage 4, Alister Lee's.
The stage was a bone rattler! Rooty and rocky and a little greasy! We took two runs down and on the second run I decided I would try move a tree with my forearm, they never move! My lovely Flare jersey came off a bit worse, oopsie!
Stage 5, Cresta Run, fast as! Ahhhhhh! So dry and dusty, crazy fast and grin inducing good fun! Back in the finish area with enough time to head to No1 for a coffee before starting to race at 12.30pm.
I felt pretty nervous at the top of stage 3, the track is such a challenging track it really got the adrenaline monkeys going! As soon as I started and got on to the steep it went well, I managed to maintain a steady controlled pace then opened it up a bit at the bottom of the stage. Out onto the fire road climb, happy to have made a clean in of stage 3. On to stage 4, trying to put the tree encounter to the back of mind I got down the stage fine, with one slightly nervous wiggle right at the end where for what felt like a whole minute I rode my handle bars with the back fishtailing around the place! Got away with it luckily!
With a very short transition, stage 5, the last stage of the 2016 series was ready to race. Such a fun, fast track all the way onto the finish line and the pits.
What a fab weekend of racing and riding bikes, the weather played ball all weekend and I was happy with my riding (no lay downs mid stage!! Whoop whoop!!). Super happy to finish 5th in the elite Womens category with some super fast ladies racing! And stoked to finish 4th in the series overall in my second year of competing in the category.
Many thanks to my sponsors who have supported me through the season. Like Sealskinz for keeping my feet comfy, none sweaty and dry!