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TransScotland Challenge - NE
Great Britain, May 27-June 2, 2007
Race 3 - May 29: (Day 3) Drumlanrig to Dalbeatte, 85km
The longest day
By Matt Skinner
Day three dawned under the towering eminence of Drumlanrig Castle for the start of the longest linking stage, including 107km and 2,000 m of climbing. The stage would take the riders from Drumlanrig Castle to Dalbeatie, via the roller coaster trails of Ae Forest and through some epic big country with ongoing rock-strewn descents. With the miles already accrued beginning to take a toll for some, the stage would prove a test of grit and determination as much as fitness. Add in some singletrack pay-off later and blistering rocky descents to temper the physical suffering, and body and mind were to be equally at war.
The trail climbed from the start and, on the approach over the saddle of Bellybought Hill at 443m, granny rings were seeing plenty of action. Cresting the climb, the valley descent opened up before the riders as they shifted up to the big ring for an uninterrupted 3km descent. Continously rocky from its head to its toe, it hammered the arms and legs in equal measure. A few slippery stream crossings caught the unwary and the tired, dumping them unceremoniously into the chilled, watery depths, before a tarmac spin dried out the dampness in time for Ae Forest's undulating singletrack haven.
For most, Ae was a revelation with its steeply swooping and whoopy trails peppered with jumps, drops, chutes, and bermed boardwalk cut the wheat from the chaff and sent endorphins into the bloodstreams of every rider. Some overdosed and and metaphorically flatlined on the Omega Man section (thankfully every one got up, dusted themselves off and got on with flowing downwards once more), whilst others revelled in the gravity orgy to carry their elation all the way through the 10km tarmac spin to the lunch point.
Following from a brief bite, the tarmac continued, giving respite from the full body workout that was wrought on the riders on the first half of the course. With the sun breaking out to dance against blue skies, some riders took advantage of the opportunity for a little R&R by stopping for tea and the obligatory cake at Rik's Bike Shack at Mabie forest. All very sedate. Next up was a taste of Dalbeattie singletrack, where Day 4's morning's team time trial is planned.
Following on from yesterday's special stage at Drumlanrig, from which the first leaders emerged, the general classification was formally presented after day three's linking stage. Three more special stages are still to go.
In the solo categories, Meggie Bichard (Extreme Endurance) is leading the women's, with Andy Barlow (Whyte Bikes) doing similarly in the men's by just 15 seconds over Ben Thomson (Nevis Cycles). In the veteran men's category, Rob Waller (ERC One Week Younger) has taken the early lead, with Hilary Bloor (Team Planetfear) stolidly taking the veteran women's.
The women's open category is being led by the 7Stanes team consisting of Julie Cartner and Renel Brennan with a good seven minute cushion. The mixed category has seen Jay and Maddie Horton (XC Racer.com/Trek) ride into a comfortable early lead, although Trek/VW singlespeed riders Shaggy (aka John Ross) and Matt Carr's entry into the category was vetoed despite the pair's best efforts at cross-dressing, which fooled no one.
In the veteran's category, Bryan Singleton and Peter Strong (Global/Torq/Buff) have not felt the need to fall back onto transvestism to further their cause, relying instead on fitness and bike handling skills to see them into the lead of their category. Whilst in the men's open category, whippets Ryan Bevis and Jonathan Pugh (RAM Bikes/Scott UK) let rip with a fiery display of fitness, finesse and power to take the lead over second placed Andrew Wardman and Steven Halsall (7Stanes) by just under three minutes.
Tomorrow sees the team time trial first thing, with both team's riders riding together for the full 15km course. Results will be based on the team's average time. The linking stage will then kick off in a relaxed manner from Dalbeattie to New Abbey over 59km with 1,300m of climbing.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by TransScotland
General Classification after Special Stage One Women Solo Open 1 Meggie Bichard (Extreme-Endurance.com) 21.42.55 2 Christie Boucher 3.10 3 Helen Lambert 6.29 Men Solo Open 1 Andy Barlow (Whyte Bikes) 21.35.27 2 Ben Thompson (Nevis Cycles) 0.15 3 Mansour Youssef (Fusion Bikes) 1.08 Veteran Women Solo 1 Hilary Bloor (Team Planetfear) 21.54.22 2 Tatjana Troll 3.13 3 Julie Dinsdale 6.01 Veteran Men Solo 1 Rob Waller (ERC One Week Younger) 21.37.06 2 Antony Green (G A Cycles/gonebikinmad) 2.56 3 Matt Scrase (MTBMarathon.co.uk) 3.11 Mixed 1 Jay Horton and Maddie Horton (XC Racer.com/Trek) 21.40.09 2 Alice Crook and Neil Hamblin (Cakemonsters) 4.22 3 Yolande Wase and John Singleton (Laurel & Hardy) 7.54 Veterans 1 Bryan Singleton and Peter Strong (Global/Torq/Buff) 21.39.08 2 Robert Barker and Mark Langdon (Sportstest.co.uk) 2.09 3 Arthur Rijk and Tim Snyder (TNT) 4.32 Female 1 Julie Cartner and Renel Brennan (7Stanes) 21.42.38 2 Sally Lee and Kate Chappell (Extreme-Endurance.com) 6.03 Male 1 Ryan Bevis and Jonathan Pugh (RAM Bikes/Scott UK) 21.33.24 2 Andrew Wardman and Steven Halsall (7Stanes) 2.41 3 William Pearson and Edward Kerly (Good Willed) 4.18 Note: There are no results for the linking stages of the TransScotland.