That's right, you read it right - Mountain Bike Champs! Not 'cross and not a cobble in sight!
However, the chance to visit Glasgow to see family, drink a few beers, eat a bit of Glasgow Curry (see here and here), and perhaps ride my bike a bit is always an offer not to be refused. Not wanting to over stretch ourselves either, leaving plenty of weekend to do the majority of the above to excess, the Saturday Fun Category race was deemed sufficient for our needs. NB: Support races were held on the Saturday and the Serious stuff was on the Sunday.
The National MTB Champs were being held on the recently completed course at Cathkin Braes, about twenty minutes drive south of Glasgow centre, and is also the course for next years Common Wealth Games - another draw to enter the race. A stiflingly hot day greeted us at Cathkin Braes (32 deg C and I understand the hottest place in Britain that weekend!) and it was really was hard going. Belgian Bro Ben actually stopped sweating - a bit serious apparently? I suggested he wasn't trying hard enough but it turns out he was on the verge of heat stroke! Us big lads can't do the hills... or the heat ether now it turns out! Other than that the race went without hitch. Being 'fun' - supposedly?? - meant we weren't in any rush and generally took it all in our stride - including banter from the commentators!
The course was excellent. Very much human made mettled single track in a kind of figure of 8, and very reminiscent of Forestry Commission Trail Centres type stuff. Great fun to ride with rock fields, and plenty of bermed corners. Most of the lap had chicken runs around the most technical sections too. I certainly didn't feel over whelmed the the course its self. I also noticed that although a dry day on race day, I couldn't imaging any of the course would ever get muddy. Truly all weather. One final plus point about the course is that it is open to the public all year round. If up in that neck of the woods it's well worth a try.
However, my overwhelming memory of race day was of quietness! Yes yes, I'm sure the Sunday with all the pros would no doubt be busier, but, in our race there were about 20 participants. Now, you may think that isn't bad for the Fun Cat. but no, our race comprised Fun, Sport and Open Cats! It's not many people at all really, especially considering my local Wednesday evening Summer Cross alone, here in Yorkshire, has recently been getting up to 120 people turning up!
Is cross country mountain biking on it's knees? It surprised me really. Every person and his/her dog/bitch has a mountain bike - you would've thought more people would turn up for a bash?
Still a good do though, and I finished 4th!