A few weekends ago TORQ’s MTB Marathon Specialist, Neal Crampton headed up to Drumlanrig Castle for round 4 of the Scott Marathon Series. After completing the full 100km epic loop, Neal brought us this report.
I had never visited or ridden the course at Drumlanrig castle, but had always heard good reports about it. However every report usually ended the same, “… just don’t go in the wet, the roots are lethal.” With these words of warning ringing in my ears, we lined up on the start line . in torrential rain. Still, I thought, we have 80 km to ride before we hit the Drumlanrig trails, it’s bound to dry up?
What an 80km it was, rather than the normal lung bursting 1:4 ‘warm up’ climb, we enjoyed a very pleasant steady climb that took us into real open-wilderness country. This climb culminated in a bona fide alpine-style col, only the headwind and lashing rain brought us firmly back to Scotland. The route continued in a similar style for a few more climbs and the selection was down to myself and Ben Thomas, fresh (or not so) from the Transalp stage race the previous weekend. From there on, the trails totally changed as we entered the back of Ae forest and hooked onto some of the 7stanes trails with some punchy climbs and really fun swoopy descents. A section of bridleways and connecting lanes and we were heading back to Drumlanrig. So much for my optimism, the course was showing no signs of drying up, as it was still raining and hard!
As we hit the trails Dieter Droger (Scott UK) caught up with us (through giving an epic chase) after being incredibly set back due to mechanicals near the start. Dieter soon put in a searing attack. Due to the weather conditions, the course had been rather gritty & I suddenly found my front brake was starting to fade! This in turn made me fairly apprehensive about the thought of riding Drumlanrig with no front brake, especially at the pace Dieter was setting.
However, I soon worked out that the only way to ride Drumlanrig’s roots in the wet is to have no front brake! It seems Dieter was still sticking to the outdated two brake approach, which looked fairly tiring and it wasn’t long before he needed a sit down. The remaining trails were a blast even after a tough and wet 90 km, soon Ben and I were back at Drumlanrig Castle, wet, muddy but still grinning. Thankfully an ‘entente cordiale’ was pretty quickly reached on the drag up the Castle’s stately drive, there had been no need for a sprint finish and we both rolled back under the finish arch.
It is huge logistical effort for the Wales based Scott MTB marathon guys to drag the whole show up to Scotland for the weekend and their efforts were greatly appreciated by the muddy procession of finishers, but what did they do to upset the weather gods?
A special mention also goes to TORQ Director, Matt Hart, who despite his rescent lack of riding, rode the 50km loop and was the first rider back on this distance. Next up for the team is the final round of the British XC Series at Cannock followed by the remaining two rounds of the Scott Marathon Series.
Thanks to Rob Barker of www.robbarkerimages.com for the photography in this report.
As always, a big thank you to all the team sponsors. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do:
– Wheels and Finishing Kits
– Pumps, Tools & Bottle Cages