Written by  //  September 26, 2014  //  MTB, News  //  No comments

Interregionals pic1


The 2014 Youth Inter Regional MTB Championships. Fourteen teams of eight riders converged on the Olympic course at Hadleigh Farm in Essex for three days of action packed racing. And with our very own Louisa Watt and Anna McGorum on the Scotland South team and Simon Hanlon Cole as Team Manager and Miranda Balfour as Team Coach.

So referendum day arrived, votes cast, Scotland North and Scotland South teams trundled south together in three enormous vehicles (one with a 60mph limiter). We were unsure whether the ‘Scottish Cycling’ marked performance van would become a target come Friday morning or be our passport back across the border on Sunday night.

First up on Friday afternoon was a flat pedals skills competition; bottle pick ups, wheelies, lateral step overs, gap step overs, hopping circles, bottle squares and finally a timed pump track! Just how perfect is our barn as a training area! But it’s not just about being able to do skills, it’s about doing them under pressure with the world watching. We came out of that with Scotland South in second position. Yeeha!

This was followed by a quick pedal around the next day’s course, sizing up some quite daunting technical sections. Racing lines decided we headed back to the Holiday Inn in Basildon for dinner, team meetings and bed.

Up, breakfasted and back on site by 8am. A quick review of the race route, followed by warm ups, and we were ready to race the Handicap at 10am. The ‘handicaps’ were 10s delays in race start for every point a rider dropped in the skills competition. The race being approximately half an hour over a 1.5km lap. Our strong standings in the skills set us up well to hold on to our second position. Scotland North fared less well with a puncture and then a broken elbow sustained on one of the rocky technical sections.

Interregionals pic2

The afternoon’s Eliminator race was massively exciting as a spectator. It involved heats, semis and then finals raced over a 750m lap; girls and boys in separate races. No time for bad starts, slipping gears, polite passing or crashing. The finish was up a STEEP hill. Gridding was supposed to be by team standing, although Scotland South seemed to manage to end up on the back row every time. No problem. They still smashed it and held on to second position.

The broken elbow victim returned to site to cheer everyone on, but misadventure struck again for the North team. Whilst practising the following day’s XC course another North rider came off on another rock garden and cracked her helmet. Somewhat concerned by her stammering speech, blurry vision, shooting pains and history of recent concussions we rushed her off to hospital in an ambulance. She was finally kept in overnight and the team staff got back to the hotel just before midnight.

No surprise that we were a few minutes behind the other teams arriving on Sunday morning.  Only to find that the Scotland easy ups had blown down the hill. We calmly rebuilt camp whilst it was announced to the Team Managers that Scotland would be penalised for their lateness and gridded at the back the next race. The race organiser’s decision is final and we had to suck it up. The Team Relay was a lap for each rider over the same course as the Handicap race, mercifully with ‘Broken Elbow Rock Garden’ closed off. There were two teams per region, each comprising two girls and two boys. As our first riders freewheeled off the start line behind slower riders they got their heads down for some impressive passing. They gave it their all, but did slip down to overall third. North had it worse because by this time they were two riders down so two riders had double laps as well.

Interregionals pic3

Then the final race, the full Cross Country. It’s a gruelling course with either energy sapping climbs or hanging on for the technical descents. Not many places to drink and over an hour of racing over a 3.6km lap in the southern heat. They were all awesome! The counting members of the team all came in within a few places of each other in the top half of the field. So impressive for such a young team, many of whom usually race half that time. Back into second spot and a place on the podium! Meanwhile another puncture for North… they finally came in eighth, probably not fully representing their abilities and certainly having dropped some places on account of two lost team members and the back gridding they were handed.

Then just the journey home. We collected our North Team member from hospital and chugged our way north again at 60mph. No border control. We finally arrived home in Peebles at 4.45am on Monday morning!

The whole Scotland South team has to be commended, not only for their superb result, but also for their efforts and attitudes.

As a young team we didn't dare to hope for such an impressive finishing result, but they put their all into it and achieved an amazing second place through consistency and hard work. There were no mechanical issues, due to well-maintained bikes, and each team member brought home their best result. They went out again and again, dropping exhausted on the finish line, but were ready to go out again and give it their all.

They were also a great group of kids; engaging, cheerful, committed to their racing, respectful, willing to learn and massively supportive of each other. We hope they learned lots about themselves and about racing and about being at a bigger event of this type. Onwards and upwards. The future is bright. So proud of them all.


Photos courtesy of Erika Allen.

Please follow and like us: