The 7 Steins are nestled in the south of Scotland, and known for their steep technical downhill tracks where many British Downhill National Championship races have been held over the years. This was the second time the Enduro World Series visited Peebles, Scotland and it was very memorable for everyone last year –it rained all 3 days during practice and the conditions were unlike any race anyone had experienced. But, this year, for the first time ever, we would have back-to-back rounds with first in Ireland the weekend before. Many riders were definitely concerned about the fatigue of racing two weekends in a row. I made it through Ireland and felt a little tired from the racing and training, but nothing a couple days off the bike could fix.
Practicing for Enduro races can be pretty intense and almost harder then the actual race days. You find yourself out riding for 5 to 7 hours in a day familiarizing yourself with the courses. The goal is to see all courses as many time as you physically can without being fatigued for race day. We had 8 stages in Scotland to familiarize ourselves with and transfers to each stage were pretty long.
We had a full day to spend in Dublin before heading out to Scotland so we spent the day in Dublin seeing the Guinness factory and visiting one of the oldest pubs in the country. We had a blast and laughed till our stomachs hurt. We ate lots of food and drove around the city while trying to find our hotel by the airport. It was nice to get a break from the bike and check out other areas besides the one we raced in. The next morning we flew to Scotland and were welcomed by beautiful, sunny weather.
The next day of practice consisted of training on courses 1-4 and could potentially be an epic day of training. I heard the courses were dry and in great conditions. An older local mentioned it was the longest stretch of dry weather he had seen in the area ever. I asked “How long is that?” He replied, “Oh, about a week in a half now of no rain.” It’s no California drought, but I’ll take the dry conditions. I immediately had visions of riding in beautiful loamy dirt. Would we get lucky with sunny weather two weekends in a row? I would be disappointed if I left the UK without riding in sideways rain at least one day.
Well, the weather did change about halfway through the first day of practice –sideways rain, uphill headwinds, hail, and cold temperatures. Not my favorite training weather, but the trails were flowy, fast and too much fun! I spent the practice days riding with Allan and the Nomads, checking out lines and using a Go Pro to record the courses. I could tell I was still feeling the Ireland race and I needed to ride a little less and rest more.
The weather conditions were amazing on Saturday, the first day of the race. We had plenty of time between race stages where the group of women racers found themselves lying in the fields, talking about their lives outside of racing. It was a much different pace than the previous two rounds where there was no time for talking between stages, only pedaling. I finished the day in 14th place in a very close race. I was ready for Sunday’s stages since I knew it suited me better and hoped I could make up some time.
The next morning, as I rolled out of bed, I checked my phone to see what the weather had in store for us and noticed an email from the race organizer telling us they cancelled stages 6 and 7 due to high winds and weather conditions. Dang it! Stage 6 was very controversial because many of the riders wanted it cancelled –too much pedaling. Our race day was cut in half and Anka and I were bummed we wouldn’t have much time to move up. The weather actually cleared up nicely throughout the day and the final course was almost dry by the time we descended down. I only managed to move up one place to 13th, and had an 8th place finish on stage 8. Not the finish I was hoping for, but I had a great time laughing with the Santa Cruz guys and riding some of the best trails the UK has to offer.