What an amazing ten days , first off it was the 2nd round of the UK Gravity Enduro series at Innerleithen, one week before the Enduro World Series came to town. I was excited for this along with many others, I packed the camper and headed up to Inners for Friday practice. I arrived about 11am and the pits were already full, lots of Euro riders there for sneaky practice and preparation for the following weekend.

I had a quick look at the course map and I couldn’t stop smiling, 5 stages, pretty much all full on downhill technical trails, I couldn’t wait to get up there to ride.

I decided to have a quick tyre change before heading up , I wanted a Magic Mary on the front as it was still a little muddy and those tyres are excellent up front. I somehow how had a little accident though, just as I was putting my front wheel on, I gave it a spin and caught my finger in the disc rotor and it totally ripped my finger nail off ! Never ever do it, it was so painful, I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

I had a couple of hours of feeling very sorry for myself and bandaged it all up. I had to cut a finger off my glove so I could wear gloves and crack on with it. I managed to ride 4 of the stages but was struggling to hold on to the bars a little so I called it a day and hoped the pain would ease off for Saturday.

After a good sleep and feeling better, I went off to ride the final stages and prepare for seeding at 1530pm. I was loving every stage, steep , rooty , rocky , technical, exactly what I love and enjoy racing on.

I had some good competition there this weekend, some Austrian and Swiss riders who race in the EWS series. Seeding was great fun, I had a really good run and came down in 1st spot over 10 seconds ahead of 2nd place, so it was a great start to the weekend after losing my nail 😉

Sunday morning arrived, the forecast was for rain, sure enough by the time we had got to the start of stage 2 the heavens opened and it was raining really heavy. I was on the start line for stage 2, my goggles had already started to steam up, by 30 seconds of stage 2 I had to rip my goggles off and ride without them , I think I rode over roots and rocks that I had never seen before, my eyes were covered in rain and mud, but it was still amazing fun.

It pretty much rained on and off for the rest of the day, it made the stages a lot better though, instead of it being greasy , it was quite grippy and fun to ride. With a consistent day of riding and staying on the bike I was super pleased to take the win ahead of swiss rider Lorraine Truong and Sarah Newman by 45 seconds.

A great weekend of racing for me and great preparation for the World round next weekend.

So I had 2 days to rest up and get ready for the biggest race of the year, practice started on Wednesday, I decided to go ride all the Glentress stages, there were 4 stages there, super fast, pedally, long, pretty much everything you could imagine on a World Enduro Series course. It was a 37km loop starting in Peebles with 1500m of climbing. Thursday was time to start practicing the good stuff. Day 1 of racing consisted of 4 stages, 2 of them on the infamous Golf Course and 2 on my favourite hill – Innerleithen. I had approximately 50km and 1400m of ascent ahead of me, a good 6 hours in the saddle on race day.

Thursday was a tough day as we had to ride from Peebles town to the top of the golf course for stage 1, the transition time allowed for this section was 1hr 25min, a very good warm up.
Stages 1 and 2 at the Golf Course for me were my favourite, super technical, steep and hard, I enjoyed practice but knew that it was going to be one hell of a days racing.

I saved the Innerleithen practice runs for Friday. Stage 3 was my all time favourite so far, it started off pretty mellow at the top of Minch Moor, after some pedalling and trail centre riding it dropped in to the famous Sticks and Stanes section, steep and just amazing amounts of fun, everyone needs to go ride this. After riding the final stage and 3 days of riding I was ready for the race, my legs were already quite sore but who cares, I had to race the first ever World Enduro here in Scotland with Legends Tracy Moseley and Anne-Caroline Chausson. It made me think about my Downhill days and how much I loved it.

So racing kicked off nice and early for us, with me leaving the pits at 0820 am, the sun was shining and the crowds were awesome. Stage 1 didn’t go as planned, I had a big crash in the first woods section, I think it was a lot To do with the fact it was so dark, I know other racers felt the same, going from bright sunshine to really dark woods, I had a big over the bars , I got up as quickly as possible but I had lost my rhythm. I was pretty mad, but I tried to forget it, as I could still make time up with another 7 stages to go over the 2 days.

Stage 2 was better, I rode well , same again on stage 3 I had lots of fun and finished 6th on that stage so I was clawing time back. On the final stage of the day, 30 seconds from the finish, I was fatigued and took a bad line, I crashed again and lost further time.

Day 1 over and I was sitting in 10th spot, not too bad after a below average day. After a good sleep and another early start, leaving the pits at 830 am and with an hours climb to the top of the black route at Glentress, racing started again. I rode all day, pretty consistent but feeling very drained, the crowds were amazing, cheering me on, helping me get through the tough pedally sections. I lost too much time on Sunday and was pushed back into 11th spot. I was definitely disappointed as I wanted to be inside that top 10. It was my first ever World Enduro event, I learnt lots, I cannot wait for next year already.

My Scott Genius Lt was amazing all week, big thanks to my team manager Phil for being there to support and look after me and also Sean my mechanic for all the help preparing and looking after my bike making it perfect for racing.

Ive now got a couple of weekends off racing, the its time for the 3rd round of the UK Gravity Enduro Series at Afan in South Wales where I’m hoping to keep my overall lead in the series and try take to another win.

What an amazing event to be held in the Tweed Valley , if you weren’t there this year make sure you are in 2015.
See you all at the next event and thanks again for all the cheering , it definitely helps!

Hels x

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