Bluegrass Enduro Tour 2015 - Glencoe

The Bluegrass Enduro Tour is at the raw edge of racing, no practice, no trails just mountains and small flags to follow. For 2015 the first round in Glencoe, riders had to contend with more snow than usual and unusually for Scotland blue skies.

The day started with the riders briefing giving out useful advice about the course such as "there are rocks, holes, tussocks, snow patches everywhere", "stage 1 has a climb", "stage 2 has more of the same, oh with a snow start", "stage 3 has a ditch of doom, get your front wheel in it and you will be over the bars". Armed with that useful information we headed up the two chairlifts and short hike to the start line.

The first like all stages was a ride of two halves, first half very natural with no trail. Just picking your line across the hill trying to follow the small orange flags to the 'gates'. A short but brutal climb had all but the very fittest riders off the bike pushing as fast as possible over the crest. Just when you were really feeling the pain you passed the top of the cliffhanger chair and dropped into the winter battered red downhill track. It is safe to say the winter had not been kind to the track with the number of lose rocks, mud patches and holes.
Blue skies and race flags

The second stage as described in the briefing was more of the same, although with the added difficulty of large snow sections. Running looked to be the best way through the first snow patch then riding as far as possible into the next patches. Then a second run down the red downhill track was slightly easier as the track was cutting in slightly.
Lining up for the mass start

The first two stages then became seeding times for the start position on the mass start. but before lining up there was the epic hike up to the remaining pistes. The final mass start stage was a chaos of running and cycling through snow fields before the entire first stage again including the climb. The first half of the red downhill was again used but then it turned off into the surprisingly ridable bog. This was deep mud with wide corners taped in, full brakes off and drifting.

My race started eventful with an over the bars on the first stage, then an off the track and finally a dropped chain. The second stage was better although not being a runner I suffered on the snow sections, by the finish line my arms were lead sticks with claws at the end. The rest time between stages was well received by all riders who chatted, snacked and most importantly fixed the huge numbers of bikes that were slowly being destroyed. Only the first four rows were seeded, I was very pleased to have my name called out in row four.  Mass start descents have never been my forte, however the running aspect made the final stage very difficult. Once the snow was over I began to increase speed and pick off various riders as I descended. A small crash near the ditch of doom slowed down my finish but all in a good run.
There could be worse places to wait for temporary traffic lights

My initial feelings after the race were to never do it again, my time was just shy of 40 minutes but my body was totally exhausted. Now a week later having watched the videos, looked at the photos and  with fresh arms and legs I have set my calendar for next year.

Official race video
Stage 3 - the mass start, I appear in the snow on this video