Day Zero: Preparing For The Big Push
The massed throng of marathon and endurance mountain bikers have converged on the small Scottish border town of Selkirk for the big push as Britain’s toughest mountain bike race, the Chain Reaction Cycles TransScotland (Powered by Merida Bikes) gets under way, reports Matt Skinner in the first of his daily reports…
Following on the success of the first ever Trans-UK format event, the Merida TransWales last year, the format is back and spoiling for a fight in the Scottish borders. Which is just as well, as the event officially kicked off at 9am this (Sunday) morning.
Taking its cues from the epic Trans-Alps and Trans-Rockies point-to-point races that cross the Alps and the Canadian Rockies, the Chain Reaction Cycles TransScotland (powered by Merida Bikes) mixes seven (daily) non-competitive marathon linking stages – varying from 55km to 85km in distance – together with a selection of special stages on the cream of Scotland’s purpose built trail centres for singletrack speed shakes: Glentress, Dalbeattie, Mabie and Drumlanrig will all see riders tackling rally style time trials in pairs and in relay, both during the day and at night. All in all this uniquely epic challenge demands that the riders – split amongst five categories (the Scottish Tourism Solo, the High5 Mixed, the Gore Veteran’s, the Buff Female, or the BeOne Male Categories) – complete a total of 498km (309miles) of riding with 14,100m (46,260ft) of climbing off-road in just seven days. Last year’s inaugural Trans-UK event, the TransScotland, was – on paper – tougher than the famous TransRockies.
Around 250 riders have arrived en-masse on Selkirk’s rugby club just a stone’s throw from the beautiful Ettrick Valley. Coming from as far afield as Hong Kong, Belgium, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Spain and the United States, the event has seen a blend of both new to the cause recruits and repeat offenders back for seconds after the Merida TransWales, with many more of the riders opting to compete solo as opposed to the traditional pair teams.
Chief of the newbies is TransAlps and TransRockies veteran Keith Bontrager, who is riding the event solo and will be recording his exploits in glorious technicolour for MBUK (Mountain Biking UK) magazine. Rabid UK singlespeeders and 24hr soloists Matt Carr and Shaggy, organiser of the UK Singlespeed Champs on June 10th at Ashton Court, Bristol, are facing the monumental 498km (310 miles) and 14,100m (46,300ft) challenge aboard Trek 69er singlespeed rigs.
The first day’s stage takes the riders out from Selkirk to wind, haul and grunt their way to Moffat, all 76km and 2,100m of climbing away. The weather looks decidedly mixed and with the gauntlet freshly thrown down, it promises to be an interesting first day. Stay tuned for daily reports and photos following the story of the Chain Reaction Cycles TransScotland (powered by Merida Bikes) as it unfolds. It promises to be something special indeed…