“Ping”, another e-mail, “DOWNHILL ACADEMY IS GO AT INNERLEITHEN” read the Forestry Commission News update. Stop work, read on, “aimed at daring XC riders”, “training by top UK downhiller Nigel Page”, “£55 all in for day”.
I’ll have some of that. The idea of being chauffeured uphill and hanging out with Pagey appealed. I turned up with 6 others, ages 14-47, and met Nigel who’d taught 9 the previous day, some from over 200 miles away.
Nigel set the routine for the day, starting with jumping at the quarry and road jump. He talks us through it, makes it look simple, then we go, repeat a few times. Nigel watches, provides the tips then we move to a new section. Nigel is superb, very patient, Oh and a bit quick when he cuts loose.
Neil Stoddard who runs the DH centre was on hand all day with a permanent grin, offering encouragement “Off the brakes”, “Jump higher”, to the dismay of Nigel who was attempting to build skills in stages and safeguard his pupils. Neil, sqeezing 12 into his uplift Landrover, ensures you make friends. Will Longden repairing one of our bikes and our youngest rider being loaned a £2.5k bike after mechanical problems from another rider, sum up the top people and place this is.
I managed to record the top stack of the weekend with an upside down landing out of the final bomb hole, just beating Saturday’s road jump that totalled a trail sign. We proved full face helmets and body armour work, but only on the bits they cover.
We had ridden the numerous DH routes with aching legs and arms to prove it. Time to collect the red T shirt (to hide the blood), and sleep the sleep of an XC’er who has just found out that downhillers work hard for their grins as well. ERIC ROBINSON
(Eric is a company managing director who has just splashed out on a new Bullit – and will also now be getting some body armour!)