The Garmin MTB Days series headed to Glentress in Scotland at the weekend, and we were there to check out all the action.
Heavy rain on Sunday morning failed to deter dozens of riders from signing up for the challenge – and with a Commencal Super 4.1 bike, a weekend riding with Steve Peat and a Garmin GPS unit all up for grabs, who could blame them?
The aim of the day was to navigate your way round a special loop of Glentress’s world-class mountain bike trails in the quickest time possible using a route plotted on a Garmin Edge.
Participants ranged from 10-year-olds and teenagers on freeride bikes to semi-pro racers and even a national cross-country champion.
One of the first quick times was put in by Paul McInally, 35, who works at Rock and Road Cycles in Bridge Of Allan, near Stirling. He said: “The course is pretty slimy. It’s hard on the climbs on this big heavy bike [Trek Remedy]; the descents were good though. I’ve got my own Garmin but I’ve only used basic functions before. The chap from Garmin put the course map on it and it was really handy.”
Taking the event somewhat less seriously were Rod Mason and his mates from Manchester, who were in Glentress for his stag do. Rod, 33, had high hopes for success in the challenge after a strong finish at Mountain Mayhem. But minutes before he was due to set off, his friends announced that he would have to leave his normal On-One behind and ride a folding shopper instead.
The idea was that he would get a minute’s head start and then they’d chase him down. But he was so busy weaving the flexy bike through the trees that he missed a turn and had to go back and start again.
His friend Michael Hitchmouch, 35, from Warrington, said: “Awesome fun – not sure about the stag do hangover though! Brought out the competitive instincts nicely!”
“Even with a serious hangover, the Garmin unit got us round the woods in one piece chasing the stag on a folding shopping bike,” said Ian McKinley, 37, from Ramsbottom. “Thanks Garmin!”
Hangovers certainly weren’t a problem for 10-year-olds Jack Fraser and Rory Millington, who took on the tricky course with vigour, including a particularly treacherous section which locals said was unofficially rated double black. Their verdict? “It was brilliant!”
Lesley Ingram, 27, who rides for Glentress Riders, was the fastest woman and won the spot prize – a Garmin Edge. She was delighted to hear that her time of 22min 9sec was faster than that set by her team boss the previous day.
Former World Cup downhill star Emma Guy, who runs The Hub bike shop and cafe at the foot of the hill, had ridden the course to check it out, but claimed she hadn’t been going full pelt.
It was Lesley’s first time using a bike GPS, which she described as “brilliant”. “I was working hard out there,” she said.
Lewis Kirkwood, 16, Tweedmuir, was another fast rider, completing the course in 19min 44sec. “It was good, but I went to bed at 1am so I didn’t expect much,” he said. “It was quite handy having the Garmin because there was one bit where there was no sign, and it was really easy to follow.”
In the end, it was British youth national champion Grant Ferguson, from nearby Peebles, who set the fastest time of the day –17min 3sec.
The 15-year-old, who receives support from Dooleys Cycles, said: “It feels great to have won. It was good fun, a great mix of tracks – manmade and natural.”
The course took in everything from twisting singletrack climbs and steep, slippery descents to part of Glentress’s freeride area, with jumps, berms and North Shore ladders.
To see the stats for Grant’s winning run on Garmin Connect, including the speeds he was travelling at and an overview of the course, click here.
There’s one more Garmin MTB Day, at Queen Elizabeth Park in Hampshire on Sunday 16 August. Want to know more? Head over to BikeRadar.com/Garmin for details of the competition.