All photo's are Copyright of Scott Swalling or the tagged Photographer. (Background photo Scott Swalling Photography).

About Me:

24Hr MTBike racer and general bike rider, climber and mountaineer. Good coffee drinker and cake eater (any cake, seriously, don't leave your cake laying around). Also, I like to try new things that challenge me.

Monday, 7 July 2008

A Dirty Weekend in Scotland

It all started slowly, we (Jamie and I) left Guildford later than expected and got caught in traffic jam after traffic jam. One caused by something hitting a bridge and trying to incinerate it, we hope everyone was ok. We eventually arrived at 0030 after setting of at 1430, our endurance already tested. We pitched tents quickly and dived into bed.

In the morning we awoke and were greeted with a nice view on the valley and the event village.

We quickly registered ate breakfast and load with food and water and set off at around 0830, in overcast but stable weather with mild winds, it would stay this way until very close to the end of the day.

First stop from the start is the check-point value hand-out, we grab our copy, quickly assigned the values to our CP’s on our map and made a plan of attack, this would involve a large hill to start with and myself in less than peak condition, a dodgy front brake and seat post that kept slipping (which it hadn’t done before.

By the time we reached the first CP, my back was very sore and would only get worse as the day progress and my right knee, felt a little odd, this would also get worse. It was at this point I got sick of my seat slipping and took the time to work out what was exactly wrong, I rectified this and we were on our way.

We quickly ticked the next couple of CP’s but my back had become agonising, and maybe masked the pain of me knee. I actually felt quite rough and really had to dig deep to keep pushing on, at one point (Jamie didn’t know) on a climb I almost threw up from the pain in my back. We pressed on and ticked further CP’s and many of the allotted 7 hours had passed and passed quickly.

A fellow racer charges down hill.

It was time to sweep the last couple of CP’s we could and head home in time to avoid point penalties due to running over the 7 hours. I found something to charge to the very last CP and then charge back to the finish, however with about 3 mile left my back wasn’t having anymore of it today, not this day. I popped and had to plod home, but we still made it over the with about 2 minutes to spare and 330 points. The fastest Open Male had collected 640 with the closest to him around mid 400 mark and many more with less than Jamie and I.

We ate and took on water and a few of the Traquair House’s own brew, we recommend this. Then I went for a massage to see what could be done about my back. What could be done was full recovery, the physio manage to relieve all pain and stiffness from my back, which unfortunately would reveal the fall damage to my knee.

After watching the event band, we decided it was time for bed.

The next morning we awoke and to my delight my knee was f***ed, but it was only 5 hours today, it was only light rain and it had been great chatting to others during the race yesterday and we had planned to attack the CP’s on the other end of the map.

We had breakfast, I had my front brake adjusted slightly, but this would last about 5 minutes and I would be with only my rear brake on wet chossy decents (this took me back to my downhilling days). We set off collecting the new CP values for the day made a plan and promptly cocked it up.

We eventually worked out where we were, revised the plan and headed off in the right direction, this also, involved a big climb for the first check point, but it was a good plan. The state of my knee would cause a great deal of time loss on ascents as it hurt when I applied too much pressure. I had to find the best gear to spin in and plod up all the hills.

This was terribly frustrating for me and I imagine Jamie, worse still for me as I was absolutely full of beans as my back didn’t hurt at all. On the flats we cruised at good pace and on the descents I railed like a mad man with no front brake, hmm!

However, this would prove to be a great and exciting day and the single tracks were amazing and I got to test some long since used skills on technical up and down. I smiled just about all of the day Sunday as I managed my knee well, even though we were losing time, I had no choice, it was slow uphill or cab back to the event village.

(The single track was amazing with drop offs, rock gardens, switch backs, paddles, rock garden drop offs and more, I was in my element and didn’t want to leave, each rider in my sight a new target. The ascents were as fun as the descents and Jamie helped a MTB instructor to demonstrate how not to ride over a wet root, he made a great save.)

We pressed on, to only be undone, further by my error in reading a trail marker as a footpath rather than a right of way, The Tweed Valley Way. This would cost us a lot of time and me a very painful walk up a long overgrown and unused bike track, which the pain of did bring tears to my eyes at one point, but we topped out, narrowly avoided another cock up, which would have required another long painful uphill walk.

We descended the most interesting of the tracks on the event, part stream, part choss pile and part mud, my front brake was now near useless, so this descent for me was fast, furious and over very quickly as I arrived at a stream crossing and the next CP. We left here bothered some sheep that would not listen to me to get out the way, then we made the final long ascent of the way to the next CP and then to the crest of the hill.

I once again tried had to shut out the pain of my knee, like I had done my back the day before, but with more success today. We made good time to the crest of the hill and then bombed down the other side, over a small rise then through some farm land to the event village and wet muddy finish.

We had not done as well as the day before, but I think we knew this, I needed to ice my knee and get warm, and eat, not necessarily in that order.
We finished 21st in the Open Men, which with all things being considered, was pretty good, I now have an appointment with my physio to get my knee right for a trip to the Alps, fingers crossed.

The Dirty Weekend is a combination on the:
Polaris Challenge
ACE Race
And, Dirty Dozen
(all links shown to the left and result and photo’s on )

It brings these events together for a great weekend with like minded people and drank lunatic called Sean. Everyone was really chilled and very nice, lots of encouragement was handed out between us all which seems to be rare in many competitive events now days, I can’t wait for the next one.

I can’t wait for the next one.