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Test to destruction: The Keith Bontrager diary 2007

Keith Bontrager is best known as the bike and component design guru behind his eponymous road and mountain bike components, but behind the scenes, the man universally known as KB is an enthusiastic and well-respected endurance mountain bike racer.

KB has taken part in a over 50 24-hour races in the last few years, and in his diary takes us inside the mental, physical, and technical challenges of long-distance mountain bike racing while juggling the demands of an active interest in the successful international business he began all those years ago.

Index to all entries

May 29, 2007

The first "special test"

Keith Bontrager
Photo ©: TransScotland
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Stage 2 was short and sweet, 45 km on the map with 1,000 meters of climbing. That seems easy enough, which was a fine thing given that there was a 10 km time trial on a woodsy singletrack loop in the evening. There was a big climb leaving Moffat, followed by some ups and downs along a ridge, and then a descent to Drumlarig Castle. Yup it is a castle made from stones milled out of red rock, with a bike shop and a bike museum. Stylin'stuff.

The big climb had its challenging elements. Even though there had been no rain the night before and the morning of, the trail turned into bog about the same point it got steep. That is a combination that will take some of the speed out of you.

It was fine though and I arrived at Drumlarig in 3.5 hours, well before the cut-off time. So I spent the rest of the afternoon fiddling with my bike and recovering.

The timed stage was on fire roads and trails on the Castle estate, mostly singletrack. It was rooty, rocky, swervy singletrack too, as good as it gets anywhere. The race is run like any time trial - each rider goes off at a specific time (riding off a ramp!), through a timing tent, and onto the course. Loop around, chase the riders in front of you, and finish back in the timing tent

The course went up immediately, and I had a tough time getting up to speed. Given the miles in my legs from the stages before, that wasn't too shocking. Once I got past that, things went better, and the singletrack started to feel comfortable. I had been riding poorly in the technical sections prior to that, so it was a relief to ride the tricky bits a little better. I ended up 9th in vets in a tight bunch on time. The fastest solo rider on the course rode it in 35 minutes and change. The fastest vet rode it in 37 minutes. After that, the vets times were in the 40s, so there is hope.

To the race organizer's credit, we've ridden on more real singletrack in this event so far than there is some of the bigger MTB stage races. If you are fond of singletrack, as I am, that is a big deal.

The connecting stage tomorrow is 100 km and there is a time trial the following morning. Recovery is key, so it's time for bed.