Britain's toughest mountain bike challenge, The Chain Reaction Cycles TransScotland (Powered by Merida Bikes), comes to a close with the crowning of its champions following a day of epic singletrack, reports Matt Skinner in the final of his daily reports...Linking Stage Seven
Glentress to Selkirk
Total distance: 57km
The final day of the Chain Reaction Cycles TransScotland (Powered by Merida Bikes) brought Britain's toughest mountain bike challenge full circle and home to Selkirk after seven full days in the saddle and almost 498km (310 miles) and 14,100m of climbing (46,300ft). Course designer Pete Laing brought to bear the big singletrack guns together with more open country riding and vistas, to make the final linking stage from Glentress to Selkirk one to truly savour.
The riders clipped in by The Hub caf and bike shop and got on with the business of climbing upwards on a mix of singletrack and fire roads into the heart of Glentress forest to 602m. The hard work and effort of forcing reluctant legs and depleted muscles into action for the final push was more than rewarded once the summit had been crested: the trail dropped down on curvaceous singletrack, broiling downwards with an unmitigated intent to deliver a turbo-charged, endorphin shot straight to the frontal lobes that, for the smooth singletrackeers in particular, was simply seventh heaven.
Then after 21km, the riders were eventually spat out to refuel at Cardrona from where they snaked down into the Cardrona Valley and upwards once more to 400m up Wallace's Hill. The trail dropped via the Glen Estate and onto Innerleithen's Traquair trail, where riders steeled themselves one final time for some serious gravity gains up to 500m on the singletrack climb up Minch Moor and out onto the Southern Upland Way. A descent and 230m climb back up Broomy Law to the Southern Upland Way had to be cut out at the last minute, so the riders were left with a final chance to savour Scotland's scenery from the back bone of the Borders before a fast skittering descent swept them finally, gratefully, and for the last time back into Selkirk to complete the course and to receive their finishers' jerseys.
With What Mountain Bike magazine hosting the finisher party, providing copious amounts of free drink and a choice selection of good time tunes for the well deserving and saddle sore riders, the final prize presentations were made: For some, the spoils of victory, for others the commiserations of coming so far and yet so close; yet all could lay claim to a share in the proud knowledge that they had completed and survived Britain's toughest mountain bike challenge, the Chain Reaction Cycles TransScotland (Powered by Merida Bikes).
Meggie Bichard (Extreme Endurance) took the Scottish Tourism Women's Solo Open Category competition, whilst her male counterpart was the popular Andy Barlow (Whyte Bikes), who's winning time of 47:13:13 would have placed him a close second overall in the BeOne Men's Open team event, behind eventual winners Ryan Bevis and Jonathan Pugh (RAM Bikes/Scott UK) who completed the course in just 47:12:23. The Scottish Borders Veteran Women's race was claimed by Julie Dinsdale ahead of Tatjana Troll. In the men's, Rob Waller (ERC One Week Younger) clinched the title and led the thanks and praise for the organisers and support teams from the podium. The High5 Mixed Category was a runaway win for the pairing of Maddie and Jay Horton (XC Racer.com/Trek) who finished almost 20 minutes up on second placed Alice Crook and Neil Hamblin (Cakemonsters). Elsewhere, the Gore Veteran's Category was sewn up by Bryan Singleton and Peter Strong (Global/Torq/Buff), whilst Robert Barker and Mark Langdon (Sportstest.co.uk) took second, with the charismatic and ever playful Police Team Italia pairing of Mario Brunello and Fulvio Damian rounding out the podium in third. The winners of the Buff Female Category were the strong and fearless pairing of Julie Cartner and Renel Brennan riding for the 7Stanes. And finally, Keith Bontrager finished the event himself to claim ninth overall in the Scottish Borders Veteran's Men's Solo race.
The event will return in August 2008, when the Trans-UK format will revisit its birthplace for the second TransWales. Stay tuned to mtbtransuk.co.uk to stay up to date. So until then, adieu from bonny Scotland, and happy trails...Overall Winners
Scottish Tourism Women's Solo Open Category
Meggie Bichard (Extreme Endurance): 47:47:36
Scottish Tourism Men's Solo Open Category
Andy Barlow (Whyte Bikes): 47:13:13
Scottish Tourism Veteran Women's Solo Category
Julie Dinsdale: 48:27:35
Scottish Tourism Veteran Men's Solo Category
Rob Waller (ERC One Week Younger): 47:22:25
High5 Mixed Category
Maddie Horton & Jay Horton (XC Racer.com/Trek): 47:36:54
Gore Veteran's Category
Bryan Singleton & Peter Strong (Global/Torq/Buff): 47:32:56
Buff Female Category
Julie Cartner & Renel Brennan (7Stanes): 48:05:10
BeOne Male Category
Ryan Bevis & Jonathan Pugh (RAM Bikes/Scott UK): 47:12:23
See below for podium pics and more!
Mixed team champions
Open Male Team champions
Solo Male champions
Solo Veteran Femal champion
Solo Veteran Male champion
Solo Women champion
Veteran Male Team champions
Champagne at the finish