This is the next part of my missing month, where I was having too much fun to write my blogs, this one covers the EWS weekend that was part of Tweedlove in Peebles.
Straight from work on Friday night to the Tweed Green for the marshall briefing, lots of important info and a nice catch up with some familiar faces. Not a fan of driving more than I need to I was living the vanlife this weekend, so headed just outside of Peebles to a quiet spot to camp for the night, dinner, a beer and some quiet time, just what I need after a week at work.
Saturday was a free day, as much as I love marshalling I would go insane if I didn’t ride my own bike too, so I only volunteer one day each weekend and ride the other, this gets me riding new places sometimes and allows me to have my own weekend time. My friend Gael came through to meet me and we spent the day riding the Glentress Red and Blue trails, getting her new fancy Mondraker set up, and generally having some fun in the sun.
Sunday was go day for marshalling, I was to meet at the Buzzards Nest car park at 6.30am, so only one thing for it, that was to be my camp spot meaning I could have a beer, chill out and get an extra 30 mins in my bed, bliss! Was nice to be chilling at the back of my van with no cars passing by, it was lovely and quiet with a few bikers still coming and going and a couple of other over nighters dotted about. Burgers, beer and feet up in preparation for a big day.
Waking to a chilly and soggy Sunday I layered up in all my clothes and waterproofs before cooking my breakfast under my unruly tarp over the back doors, which promptly blew off into a puddle (I have since added big spring clips to the van to resolve this). After a slightly damp breakfast I gathered my bag, flask and brolly and assembled with the crew. Briefings, meetings, more rain, more coffee, cake, radios, maps, rain, rain, coffee, ready to go, bundled into pick ups and posted up on the hill, go time. Due to the weather the day had been cut from four to just two stages, I was positioned at the bottom of stage 5, the first stage of the day (1-4 were the previous day at Innerleithen), and as it turned out, a muddy, sticky, nasty stage that took its toll on many riders, bikes and kit. Top 20 riders aside I don’t know if many people didn’t have to stop to clear the mud goop from their tyres, most common phrase of the day was “my wheels just stopped moving” closely followed by “I ripped off my mudguard”. It seems that any braking was a bad idea as it just accelerated the mud accumulation which then hit the fork brace or mudguard and brought the bikes to a halt. Most people were pretty miserable by this point in the day so I tried being as upbeat as possible, whilst also trying not to have too much of a fan girl moment as my idols zipped into view and paused for breath beside me.
Once the riders were all passed and the course was announced clear we were free to return our radios and responsibilities to head marshall Tara and clear off to the Green for some pro-spotting, friend finding and window shopping. Catching my friend Victoria from Foxhunt at the Green, we headed off for some much needed food. It is amazing how hungry I get standing on a hill doing not a lot, when I find I hardly eat during exercise, I cannot seem to stop on marshall days! After food (and jump starting Victoria’s car) I ventured off to find a new spot for my van for tonight. As a marshall I was given a pass to the EWS after party so tonights requirements were to be walking distance to Peebles and pretty, I found just the spot.
Tweedlove EWS afterparty… the bar ran out of IPA, Vodka, Jaegermeister, and I have no idea what else… it was that kind of party. I made new friends, whose names I cannot remember, I drank too much, partied with people I barely knew before this evening and even managed to snag a few pics with a legend. Top night.
Waking on Monday I was feeling more than a little delicate, but the view above helped with that, as did a big mug of strong coffee and plenty of bacon and eggs, for today was no day to be hungover, today was EWS Xtra, and I was supposed to be on form for riding. Riding trails way beyond my normal level and a bit worn in by 500 riders thrashing them for 2 days. After breakfast I headed to Innerleithen and to No.1 Peebles Cafe for a nice strong black coffee whilst waiting for Gael to arrive.
Starting at the “Golfie” trails behind Innerleithen the trails are far steeper than my comfort zone allows, I tried and failed to ride some of it, I crashed into more than one tree and resorted to walking / falling down the hill dragging and being dragged by my bike. Must practice steep. Meeting Gael I felt pretty bad for holding her back until she said she had an OTB and was finding it a bit sketchy as it was all blown out from the traffic of the race. We agreed to call it quits at Inners and headed to Glentress instead for the rest of the day.
I have wanted to ride the off-piste trails at Glentress for a long time now and this was the first time I would have a go, having nicely way-marked trails to help us piece together a fun day made it a lot easier to get some flow and fun into the day. Starting at the mast right at the top, above Spooky Wood, we began to ride, for me it was the first ride of the day, as I managed to ride more than 10m in a go! Twisting through the woods on a fresh trail was great fun, and I started to relax and remember to have fun and ride my bike instead of stressing about what I cannot do. The trail took in bits of Spooky Wood, Betty Blue and joined Broon Troot further down, I cannot say I rode Broon Troot, I probably managed 70% of it, but I will be back to keep on practicing until I can, and it will be a good way to progress my riding and maybe get back to the Golfie once I can ride it well enough and see if I can ride that too by then! After Broon Troot and Pie Run we were back at the fire road so we pushed on up to shortly before the mast to ride stage 8, starting in the woods with some twisty turny fun again, into Ho Chi Minh, a rooty, wild ride, I cannot wait to go back and ride that again.
I have kept my maps and plan on riding more of the off piste trails at GT in the future. The trail centre trails are great for all weather riding, but the more natural stuff is wild, fun and scary, it’s brilliant!
Next time: Fort William, World Cup Fever and more vanlife.