|At the top of the Old Fort across the road from Wolftrax Trails (photo: Chris Feltham)|
Recently I've not been particularly good at updating blogs but after having a couple of lazy days to recover, I'm eager to share what was perhaps my best weekend of riding, ever!
|Fetching pink plates (photo: Douglas Glen)|
The Upper Red
Having never ridden any of Laggan Wolftrax, I was somewhat apprehensive about the race element of this. We were starting right from the top, at the start of the upper red and the black trail. I'm quite confident in my own riding ability and I know my limits but I'm also aware that I tend to chicken out of things until I am familiar with them. I think that's an important part of my own self-preservation!
The timing system was simple enough. Someone at the bottom with a stopwatch and someone at the top keeping an exact gap between riders setting off. That way, when the split times were gathered, the results could be calculated by subtracting the time taken to start at the top. Simple... mostly!
|At the top of upper red|
The start line had been roughly scratched into the trail at the top and we all lined up, one at a time, ready to be told to go. My nerves had turned into eager excitement and, in a large part, silliness. That could maybe explain why I set off erratically and at full speed, hitting the first few corners with little control before coming up to a drop far to fast, braking hard and coming to an abrupt halt with my front tyre resting against a rock. Time to relax a little. The following few minutes saw more of a flow though I chose the 'chicken run' past most obstacles and took it easy on anything steep or sketchy.
The air was further taken from my sails when I then picked up a pinch flat in the front tyre. The adrenaline was pumping so I changed the tube in record time and carried on to a finishing time of 14+ minutes on a track that should take 7 minutes.
Somebody then had the bright idea of a race back up the fire-road and down the fun park to the cafe. I thought that this could be my chance for a winning time since I have been feeling quite fit recently. So with saddle up and eyes on the top of the climb, I began to pace myself. It didn't help. While I was in the competition to a certain extent, I still suffered as I got to the top and still had to lower my seat for the fun park. No podium place but I'd like to think I made a fair effort!
The Lower Red
|Janine on lower red|
The Fun Park
With my spirits high and confidence boosted we hit the fun park again for the timed event. Having already ridden this I knew how fast I could hit the jumps and how I could keep my height down. It was pretty windy and the last thing I wanted was to be caught by a gust of wind in mid air. My air-born skills can't cope with any unexpected interference when gritting my teeth and hoping to hit the ground the right way up!
By this time I think most of us were ready for another cup of tea and the security of knowing where we were to be sleeping the night.
At £6 per person, our digs were fit for kings. Albeit very muddy ones! We had heat, space, showers, toilets a games room and lots of space to run around in. Fantastic, now all we needed was food. Unfortunately the local hotel wasn't serving food and so we drove into Newtonmore and were invited into the Braeriach Hotel with open arms, five minutes after the kitchen was due to close. The arms were slightly less open once the other 13 or so people turned up. But they fed us just the same and the service was as warm as the lovely fire that greeted us. A steak pie and chips later and I was drinking beer, sulking at my lack of raffle-luck and getting ready for a kip. I hit the sack early as I planned to get up and ride even if the others were still in bed nursing hangovers. To my surprise and delight, everyone started rising at about 8.30am and we were in the Laggan Wolftrax cafe at the back of 10, eating bacon butties.
All Over Again
|heading down from Old Fort (photo: Douglas Glen)|
With the 3 hour drive home hanging over us, we decided to do one last run... of EVERYTHING! In an hour and a half we had sprinted up the climbs to the top of the upper red and I cleared a downward time of 7.24 with no punctures. This would have put me 7th or 8th the day before. Then came the whole lower red including the formidable drop, Ayres Rock and then back down the lovely, fast and woody trail to the bottom half of the fun park. After some pumping, jumping and my repeatedly forgetting that some of the landings lead off to the left/right unexpectedly, we arrived back at the car park, truly ready for home, a beer and a hot bath.
|the exploded tyre|