In a nut shell my results look OK, 41st in my first premiere calendar - the 3 day Tour Doon Hame, 4th in the Scot XC Champs, 16th in the Brit XC Champs, 2nd in a Scot national and 3rd in Mens 4's at Mountain Mayhem. Unfortunately though I will remember this season as the one wher I snapped 2 chains, punctured 3 times in one race plus two others plus ripped off 2 mechs.

I always reckon you make your own luck though and suffering like a dog from too much buckfast and deep fried haggis pizzas were making me ride like a bull in a china shop trying to keep up. I also nearly got lapped at the Brit nationals for the first time ever, having blown my doors completely - what happened to everyone else though? I still got 16th.

Not that it was a bad season. The "Scene" up here is pretty cool. There are several thousand weekend warriors riding at Glentress every sunday but get into racing and you soon keep meeting the same crowd. I was spotted riding intervals on Scotlands least known Trail centre, Pollock Park Glasgow (probably not worth a trip from England) by Rab Wardell. He rode the Commonwealth games in Melbourne, and now I share a flat with him. I will learn a lot from him I thought. I did. I learnt what not to do. Drink Belgian beer and go to bed at 4.30 am before 60mile hilly road races.

I started training with the Glasgow Wheelers A77 chain gang and the "Squad ae Boys". The squad seems to be a select few guys that can pull off a good result and then be seen staggering around Glasgow city centre smoking cigars later the same day. I was accepted. They have some other good training sessions which includes riding out to Lennoxtown sprinting for signs, ride up the crow road so hard you are sick at the top, then turn around, and race back to Glasgow. The Crow Down could earn legendary status for me next year.

The races up here are different too - the SXC happened at Kirroughtree, Contin, Aberfoyle, Fort William, Perth, Laggan and Drumlanrig. All of these courses were hard, steep, rocky and rooty. They sorted the men from the boys and are well worth a visit if you are half bothered about racing and to get an idea about some new places to ride and explore. Even the trail centre venues avoid the marked out trails so could add some variety to a day out. I took a kicking and felt like soft southern pansy who should consider selling my bike after getting smashed by a couple of Scottish Juniors Grant Ferguson and Kenta Gallagher. They are defo ones for the future. Unfortunately though we never made it to Laggan. The road was shut cos of a fatal accident on the A9. It made us realise, racing doesn't matter does it. We were lucky enough to have the option to turn around and go to some awesome trails near Stirling.


 The road races are nails too. No 22 Lap races of Darley Moor up here. The ones I have done have included wild 17% moorland climbs, sheep invasions, foggy vision and cramps. The only similarity to Darley has been the headwinds.

I was lucky enough to see some awesome other trails too. See ride reports from May. I also managed to ride with a few Aberfoyle locals (great venue) and Edinburgh locals (including the UCI technical delegate and part owner of Dirt School. He is often seen in the back of MBR demonstrating the bunny hop).  Awesome hidden trails shown near Peebles, and he taught me how to do a log hop. 

Time for a dabble in some Cyclo-cross.

Rob Friel