I was looking forward to three days of trail centre fun all last week. An early start on Friday saw Jamie picking me up before we collected Mad Dog on our way north. We were running a bit late but managed to make the planned rendezvous at Glentress on time at midday.
We were the last to arrive so the others were milling around waiting for us. We quickly got ready and then I broke out a couple of bottles of Moet and some plastic cups! It was The Show Onion's 50th a few days before and this weekend was a celebration of it but the lads were keen to tell us it was a double celebration. Robbo and Amanda had sneaked off the week before to get married!
After the toasts with bubbly it was time to get pedalling. All the trails at Glentress share the same climb which is actually one of the best climbs at any trail centre. For starters it's nearly all singletrack at a nice angle and secondly they've built lots of skinny log rides and rock features to keep you entertained as you climb. On this first go most of us cleaned most of the features but the last and trickiest log ride had plenty of failures / refusals. I was a failure, not making it up to the turn but I wasn't worried as I knew we'd be doing the climb plenty of times over the weekend and I'd have plenty of opportunities for more attempts.
It has been quite a while since I have ridden Glentress. I hadn't ridden "Berm Baby Berm" so after the brief fire road climb round the freeride park we started with that. What a great bit of trail! Super fast, flowing fun!
Next we looped back up the fire road and continued on the red route. I led into Pennel's Vennel and realised I hadn't quite got my eye in yet! I was all over the place. The trail was damp and slippy too. By the finish of the section I was cooking and stopped to remove a layer. The rest pedalled through. I didn't catch them up until the top of "Spooky Wood Climb"!
"Spooky Wood", "Super G" and "Hit Squad Hill" were as much fun as I remembered and by the bottom my calves were aching. I wasn't alone in that! The birthday boy said his were too. Next we did "Pie Run". I was happy to clean it all including the tricky left turn inbetween two bits of north shore that I don't remember ever having cleaned before? At the bottom there was some banter whilst some did and some didn't do the little black graded exit drop.
We then headed back up the fire road parallel with "Pie Run" to pick up the rest of the full red route. The last few times we've done the red we've missed this out but I reckon it's worth the short climb for the switchback descent? It also gave us an opportunity to do the short black section off the fire road at the bottom. This starts with a short section of rocky steps which were greasy as hell! You may remember it from years past like this?
I was happy to get down with a foot off a pedal first go. Others had multiple attempts and some didn't bother. There was plenty of technique discussion and of course banter. Back up the fire road to where we had already been once before and it was time for Mushroom Pie and Magic Mushroom. A lovely flowy descent.
We didn't finish the red completely. Instead we climbed back up to the top of the freeride park. On the way it was time for me to fail on the log skinny with a bend thing again! A few of the others nailed it though.
Up top there was a split with four heading back down "Berm Baby Berm" whilst the other six of of us continued up the fire road to pick up the blue route at "Betty Blue". From that point the blue is fantastic. Pretty much flat out flowing singletrack nearly all the way down. We don't often ride blue graded trails. If they were all like this I'd ride them plenty!
As we finished, changed and got some grub in The Hub it began drizzling a bit. Time for the pub and two more folk to join us: Why Aye Chris and Medium Steve.
We were staying in Innerleithen for the weekend so had loads of time for a lie in on Saturday morning. Unfortunately I was in the same flat as Sid and Robbo who were up stupidly early bickering like a married couple! After several hours of fruiting about we headed back to Glentress to do the black route.
For the third time this weekend I failed on the "log skinny with a bend thing" during the initial climb! Bah! We hadn't done the black route for years and I was struggling to recall much of it all day. After we entered the first singletrack section Robbo and Sid disappeared off into the distance. That was the last we saw of them until the end of the day! At the end of the same section we were re-grouping when another cyclist passed us. That was the only other person we saw on the black route all day. I was reminded why the route isn't as popular as the red/blue we had done previously when we hit "Tower Ride". Straight up the fall line on soft ground at a fairly steep angle! Not much fun at all.
We re-grouped again and rested in the hut at the top of the hill before the brief respite and fun of "Britney Spears". All the high level sections were very damp with a few massive puddles. Often we rode in and out of light mist as we climbed and descended until eventually we stopped for a rest at the bottom of "Deliverance". The descent had been excellent but we knew the following climb was horrible. I passed round the jelly beans to give us a boost ready for it.
By the top of the climb we were fairly strung out. The Show Onion decided he had had enough and pedalled on alone. I got a bit ahead to get some photos. I was dissapointed as we passed through the Ewok Village that little has been done trail building wise in this area since the woodwork was taken down. It's a bit of a waste of descent currently?
At the junction back with the red route we re-grouped again. Somehow we had lost Medium Steve but he was in front of us so we carried on. It was time for another go at the slippy rock steps. Again it was mixed fortunes in the group but quite a few cleaned it. I was happy to do it first attempt and keep my feet on the pedals this time.
Everyone was kind of dissapointed with the black and feeling a bit knackered from it's distance but they all perked up when they knew where they were and didn't object when I suggested pedalling up to the top of "Pie Run" on the red run for a full run down it and the following trails. Unfortunately Mad Dog's rear mech failed and he had to bodge it into singlespeed.
It was now time to do the climb back up to the top of the freeride park for the fourth time. This time Jamie and I both cleaned the "log skinny with a bend thing". I was well happy with that! As usual it was one of those that seemed dead easy once you had done it.
We finished up with a run down the blue from the top of "Berm Baby Berm" and arrived back at the car park knackered but with smiles all round apart from the tight Yorkshireman who now had to part with money for a new mech ;-)
After snacks once again in The Hub it was off to the pub (surprise!). The landlord told us he had had to get onto his suppliers as we had caused him a bit of a shortage after the night before! Luckily his supplier had got him sorted and we had another good night in the pub.
The last and shortest day to allow for travelling. Innerleithen was our destination and as it was only a few hundred yards from where we were staying we got there easy enough! The car park was busy with an uplift on.
It had been about 5 years since I had last ridden Innerleithen and I couldn't remember much of the details. I knew it was pretty much one up and one down but had forgotten that meant near enough 9km of climbing in one go with the steepest bit out of the car park! Once again Robbo got bored of us on the climb and did the ride on his own. Sid was having contact lens issues and stayed back with us. We did have a brief play at the quarry area which offers the only respite in the long climb.
When we finally got to the top we paused briefly for a photo before heading down the Minch Moor descent. I had totally forgotten how good this descent was. When we got to Enduro track (which was closed for forestry work) there was a brief debate before we rode it anyway figuring the forestry boys wouldn't be working on a Sunday morning. We were right. Naughty I know but so much better than a load of fire road.
On Plora Craig Baz stopped to pump his tyre up. This caused a bit of a split in the group resulting in some of us doing the black Razor Rock option and others misisng it. Once again I had no memory of it. Knowing this trail definitely would help and I had a good few dabs.
After re-grouping at the end I suggested we could pedal up the fire road and ride one of the down hill courses to the top of Caddon Bank but everyone else voted for heading straight down. At the top of Caddon Bank there were a few of the down hillers looking at the trail. I rode straight in, completely forgetting to drop my saddle despite having a reverb. I was all over the shop and locked it up just before the second rock drop apologising to Jamie who was following. We pushed back up and re-rode it with Jamie giving me a bigger gap!
We were finished and on the road for midday so everyone was home at a sensible time.
A cracking weekend. You can't beat a few days of trail centre riding at this time of year.