Epic Scottish Weekender – 5th June
Dom, Smitty and Bruce left early, as Dom had a flight to catch in the evening, leaving me, James and Ben to ride Innerleithen. We were up reasonably early, and left the bunkhouse at Kailzie for the 4 mile drive to the car park at the trail centre.
Soon we were heading up the tough climb towards Stell Burn, Ben had gone ahead, and James was behind me. I felt fine at the start of the climb, but as we went on I started to feel terrible…. Then I remembered, I’d only had a banana for breakfast. On previous days we’d always stopped at a shop and I’d grabbed whatever random food I could find…. but not today. I told James to carry on, I needed to eat something, and fast. I’d got a bag of Liquorice Allsorts, so opened them and tipped them in. 3 mouthfuls and they were gone, coconut rolls and all. Now, I hate coconut, not “don’t like it”, I mean HATE. The stuff is disgusting…”Spawn of the devil”…. uggghh, just the thought of it as I type makes me cringe. Just shows how desperate I was for some energy!
I stood for a while then rode on slowly, within a couple of minute I was feeling better, and by the time I caught up with James I felt fine. Hitting the fire road around Taniel Hill I could see Ben way off in the distance, just about to cross Taniel Burn and disappear into the trees. I’d worked out he was trying to do the whole climb of 420m (1380ft) in one go.
Grasdually we climbed up through the trees, the Liquorice Allsorts certainly seemed to have done their job. James was following and sounded like he was struggling a bit. “How far to go?” came the question. “Not far, we’re almost at the tree line” I replied with my fingers crossed! Now anyone who’s ridden the trail at Innerleithen will know once you get out of the trees its then a hard going rocky zig zag to gain the final 100m of height to get you to the cairn at the top of the 567m (1860ft) Minch Moor.
We left the tree line and again James asked how far, once again I told a bit of a white lie. Slowly we wound our way to the top. Ben was sat looking at the final ‘Stunning View’ of the road trip. This one a 360 degree cracker! I apologised to James for telling him porkies about how far we’d still got to go. “I’m glad you did!” he replied
Time to crack open a celebratory packet of Jelly Babies and drink in the views…..
Before we started riding back down, rather than add a stone to the cairn at the summit I sucked the feet of a Jelly Baby and stuck it to the top stone. Fingers crossed he’ll stick and be there next time I ride at Innerleithen.
Now for the good bit…. the down! The trail back down is superb, whoever laid it out really knew what they were doing. Towards the end of the the first major James pinch flatted so the Scottish midges had one last feast as he fixed it.
Back rolling again we headed down the fire road to the red ‘Plora Craig’ section of switchbacks, then dropped down into the black ‘Razor Rock’ section with it’s very technical rocky drops and steps. Soon we were back on the red and heading to Caddon Bank the final descent.
Caddon Bank is visible from Innerleithen villiage itself as it snakes it’s way down from 290m (950ft) It looks pretty manic from the villiage, but when you ride down it…. wow! 3 rock faced drops to start, turn back on youself, now a series of rollers traverse the hill, another turn and you drop into the trees. The trail goes mental from this point in an unpredictable combination of drops, turns and jumps that eventually spit you out into the car park wearing a huge grin.
Rolling across the car park and laying the bike down by the car the riding part of the “Epic Scottish Weekender” was done. Now time to get changed and for Ben to point the car South.
Ride – #99 Bike – Gary Fisher Paragon 29’er
Miles – 12.6 Total 2012 miles – 1991.1
“Epic Scottish Weekender”
Total riding miles – 122.0
Total drving miles – Over 1250