Friday, 8 January 2016

A Visit to Scotland

Monday saw the start of a new work year, and another roadtrip to Scotland, via Merseyside, Edinburgh, Dunfermline and Elgin.  It had been good fortune that a regular client of ours requested urgent work so far North. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands knowing I would be able, with a bit of careful planning, get in a visit to Strathpeffer to ride the Strathpuffer course with a friend experienced at the event.

The morning drive from Dunfermline to Elgin was just stunning, with snow-dusted hills just visible beneath the cloud off the A9

Work in Elgin was testing, but rewarding and I finished in plenty of time to get to Strathpeffer and meet Devs.  I like Devs, he's great, and he tolerates my tourist yaddering the entire ride.  I couldn't help it, Scotland is exciting! Beautiful trees, fabulous views, great people and really fun riding. 

The course is really enjoyable and I liked it a lot.  The climbs are steady spins which is perfect for a 24 hour race.  I'm not a big fan of technical climbing at the best of times, but when absolutely shattered it is a deal breaker.  The descents were 'blue' level mostly, but with the occasional feature that will catch people out.  I am very grateful to Devs for talking me through the course on the first lap, warning of anything which may be a problem, such as the bridge crossings and places that ice up badly.  Oh and scary skeletons in the woods. 

We did a second lap and I went up front for some of it, although I was totally lost in no time.  Trail memory is clearly not a strong point.  I did find most of the 'must avoid' features with my front wheel. Survived without any over-the-bars moments though. Yay for 29ers! Hopefully a few laps into the 'puffer and I may actually remember to 'take the left line'.

No doubt it'll be totally different when covered in snow and ice, with team racers flying past shouting 'ON YOUR LEFT' or 'ON YOUR RIGHT'. Which I'll just ignore.  Not to get in their way, or be awkward, but because I have a completely inability to tell left from right without thinking about it in depth.  I'd forgotten about that joy of racing until now.  Heh.

That's enough about the future.  It's easy to get distracted by thinking about things that have yet to happen, rather than spending time in the here and now.  Much better to just appreciate being amongst the lichen covered trees, looking far more ancient than they actually are, lit up by our lights.  Wonderful.

The visit was perfect.  I am very excited about the event now.  Excited to ride the course again and just experience it. More than that, it was a fabulous evening ride with great company in a beautiful woodland.  The trip itself was worth it for that alone.