The Elusive number 9!!

So here I am (again) limbering up in a farmer’s field surrounded by hundreds of bikes, cars, vans, and people. After a wee drive up the A7 I am now stretching out my huge overweight carcass of goodness and looking forward to racing solo at my fifth Glentress 7 event. This is my local social biking event of the year where I engage in conversation with other people, smile and conduct myself in an orderly manner. This is where I see faces that have become faded memories to me. Distant friendships forged on trails now overgrown and built firmly in the past. The souls of these old trails have a sad but happy vibe to them. With the tyre rut of life grabbing our wheels of fortune, giving it a shake and then delivering us on a different voyage be it good or bad. We just hold on to the handlebars, close our eyes and scream when hurtling down life’s sometime difficult but exciting byways. You help built them. It’s really up to you if you want to add some huge jumps!! Sometimes we will take a small peek to see who or what is grooving next to us. Sharing the mystery and sometimes hitting the dirt. Most of the time it has been friends that cruise up next to us and enjoy the ride. Some stay for a short blast down a rocky shute of craziness that spits them out and onto another trail. Others stay and dig in for a 24hr, rolling stops marathon race. All in all I have met some wonderful and gifted people out on my bike.

Long may that continue?


Back to Glentress 7 and my nemesis. Lap 9!!!

As always the start of these events is quite simply mayhem. Hundreds of eager beaver cyclists vying for the same single track and the same line. With an 11km lap and a time limit of 7 hours to crack out as many lap as you can. Glentress 7 is a mad house at the start. The course being one big up and one big down means that if you get to the front and try and filter out the slower riders on the first fire road climb. You might have a relatively clear run. This will avoid the bottle necks that will always happen. It’s no one’s fault. That’s what you get with a mass start. Great fun!!

So after the charge of the cavalry I have climbed the first part of the course. We are on lap one and now heading for the tasty bits. The long, everlasting downhill sections. The first downhill section and probably the most technical section of the course was a rooty, rocky chute down to a nice right angle turn, running onto the Soor Plooms trail. This is where a rider decided that he did not like to ride downhill without constantly squeezing his front brake. This pulled him into my path and then he decided to lie down in front of me!! Was it a suicide attempt? Was it all too much for him and he was going to end it all? Anyways I proceeded to run into him and then over him. This projected me into the trees and then onto my head. Fantastic. As I pulled myself up and dusted myself off. He was back on his bike and repeating the same action. Front brake squeeze and over we go. Mmmmm this could be a long day for someone.
So after some classic comedy gold I settled in to whizzing down some lovely, rooty, rocky, dry and dusty single track and onto completing my first lap. As always I am self supported so there was no pit love to give me a quick, even rolling pit stop. Not that I needed it after the first lap but as the day open up its warm and sunny arms and give us all a extremely long and beautiful warm hug the luxury of a pit helper would of made a difference to me. As I started to grind in the laps I was fighting with myself and father time. On my fourth lap I knew that my target of 9 laps was beginning to become a distant dream. My climbing was laboured. My head and lungs were up for an all day rave but the legs seemed to have been busted by the endurance cops before the first track was dropped. As I started my fifth lap I stopped worrying about lap times and knuckled down to enjoying the day. This seemed to work as my laps began to get quicker. As I cascaded down the hill and into the solo pit area I lifted my head and took in some of the atmosphere that I had been missing. Yes this is a hard course and yes the heat makes it more of a challenge but everywhere I looked people were smiling. People were happy. Job done in my book. A great course, bikes and sunshine. Simple but effective.
So onto my 6th and 7th lap. By now I knew that my target of 9 laps in 7 hours was not to be. Sometimes everything goes to plan and you are pedaling sweet all day. Other times it just isn’t happening but you just dust it off and move on to the next challenge. I stopped briefly on the course to help a rider sort out his flat as there is nothing worse that people offering help but not stopping. I was in no major hurry now as I would only be riding for positions. I lost more time on the course than I did in my pit. With crashes and bottle necks you can lose time very quickly. As lap times go there was something like 15 minutes between my final placing 20th (under 50’s) and 14th. But for me that lap time mentality shoved its two fingers up at me on lap 4. So as I started my 8th lap I knew that getting around the course before the final cut off and lap 9 was impossible for a rider of my abilities. Anyways the last couple of laps were bliss as the course was deserted in places. Only now and then would you get a marauding bunch of team riders still battling it out. Riding in a bunch and racing hard. This was fun for me as I would join the group and their race. Funny enough the second group to catch me on a steep climb I managed to stay with them and race the bunch back down to the finish line whilst holding off some late flourishes.

So that was that. Another GT7 done and dusted. I managed 8 laps in 6hrs 57 minutes. That covered 88.6km and 2746 metres (9000Ft) of climbing. Overall solo position out of all the categories was 39th out of 154 riders. I could have saved time in plenty of areas and if I had my climbing pants on then lap 9 would have been in the mix. Still the day for me was about racing hard but enjoying the great vibe and day that Tweedlove always puts on. Big shout out to Team JMC’s Jon Entwistle (enthDegree Cycling) for the help and direction in prepping me for this.

Keep the faith Jon.