Alpine Bikes' sponsored rider Stuart Nicholson gives a quick summary of his latest race (XC, this time!) at Cathkin Braes, near Glasgow.
An enduro rider skipping a local international enduro race to go racing XC? I must be mad! Well, it wasn't intentional – I couldn't get the 4 days off work to race the Tweedlove International, so instead I made a trip up to Glasgow for the Cathkin Braes SXC. It was my first XC race in a while, so I knew it would be painful but good for fitness. I chose to ride a 110mm ‘XC’ bike which is a bit on the porky side (about 1lb heavier than my enduro race bike).
We set off from Innerleithen for Glasgow in the spitting rain late on Sunday morning. But by the time we arrived at Cathkin, there was glorious sunshine. I got myself ready, did a quick practice lap and met up with a few enduro buddies (is XC the new enduro?!) XC starts are gridded in your series position and somehow I managed to wangle my way onto the second row. With no race plan and no idea what pace I could maintain for 5 laps, all I knew was I needed to go hard off the start.
Then BANG, off we went. After a good start and half a lap I was in second, but I had to back off – dropping to just behind third – after the first full lap. With my heart rate sitting in the 180+, I didn't know if I could keep it up. I backed off the pace and began to get overtaken. The vets started a minute or so after and, as the race went on, I was really confused as to who was overtaking from a different category and who I was meant to be racing! I finished with quite consistent laps, a half-full tank and no idea on positions. Sixth place, not bad considering.
I’ll definitely be back for more, although maybe on a lighter bike! 1hr 46min, 770m climbing, 30km. Max HR 187, Av 168.