This week Hannah Barnes, a professional mountain biker from Fort William tells us a bit about her achievements and her latest race at the Enduro World Series held as a part of the Tweedlove bike festival in Scotland.
I’ve mixed it up, competing in 10 hour endurance races, national xc races, enduro races, adventure races, downhill races, and off-road triathlons. A highlight race for me was in 2009 when I completed the Big Ben Nevis Triathlon (1.9km swim, 90km xc bike, 21km hill run up and down Ben Nevis), known as Britain’s toughest off-road triathlon. I came 7th overall and broke the female record in 8 hrs 16 mins. In 2011 I was 5th overall, and with tougher conditions came one minute off my own record.
I am a professional rider, and also squeeze in some nursing work whenever I am at home. I ride a Yeti SB66c for Silverfish UK and am a Yeti Cycles Ambassador.
Last weekend was round two of the Enduro World Series (EWS) in Peebles as part of Tweedlove festival. Tweedlove is a two week long bike festival with all sorts of events, from road crits to dual slalom to a bike film night to kids races, there is a bit of everything for all ages and abilities. Round two of the EWS came to the Tweed Valley, it's awesome to have such a big event in the International biking calendar come to Scotland! The event village was right by the river and the town, such a lovely location and very picturesque.
The tracks were open to practice all day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with racing on Saturday and Sunday. I arrived on Wednesday morning, and rode a couple of the Glentress stages with my Brother and a few other friends from home. The rain came in pretty heavy in the afternoon after only riding three of the four stages at Glentress. I decided to leave the fourth stage till Friday morning, by then it would be more ridden in and a closer resemblance to how it would ride come race day.
On Thursday I rode the stages at Innerleithen. It had been raining quite a bit the few days before hand, so the already techy gnarly steep tracks were made even harder! It was really slick and hard to ride smoothly. The off cambre roots, drops, steep narrow shoots, tight steep slippy corners and loose rocks properly tested my riding! Even though it was just a practice day, it was still a big day in the saddle! The only real way of practicing the four stages at Innerleithen (eight stages including Glentress) was to ride the full loop we'd be doing on race day so it was a big day!
It was great to get so much riding in on such brilliant trails! By Saturday morning I think everyone will have already been pretty tired from such big practice days. The girls started leaving the start from around 8:15am at 30 second intervals. There were about 45 girls entered, and the standard was incredibly high which was brilliant! Seeing everyone again was great, it is such a lovely bunch of people to travel around the World and race with.
It was a beautiful day, the sun was out and not a cloud in the sky. It was great to have some heat to dry the trails out a bit, and hopefully get a bit of grip. I enjoyed Saturday and the Innerleithen stages, although I felt I didn't ride the stages as well as I could have. I struggled to maintain flow and keep a smooth rhythm, and trying to keep feet clipped in on the wet off camber roots was tricky. Lot's of silly crashes and slip ups cost quite a bit of time and meant loosing flow, so I found it was quite frustrating racing wise. It was a great challenge for my riding however, and pushed me to ride things I would normally hesitate over which was great!
My boyfriend John was an awesome support all weekend. Having him close to wash and maintain my bike and help me with tyre choice, make food, find out start times, and just be there to have fun with meant that when I wasn't riding I could properly relax and there was no stress. My Mum and Dad camped next to us too, it was really nice to have them at a race again.
Day two in Glentress was amazing, the stages were great fun and just left a big smile on your face. They were still physical and challenging, but not half as gnarly technical as Saturdays stages at Innerleithen! I felt fit and good all weekend, but by the eighth and final stage I was pretty exhausted after a long five days! The race wasn't my best result, just not a good race for me with lot's of messy mistakes and little crashes. It was definitely one of the hardest EWS races I've done.
Overall though it was a brilliant event, the sun was shining, and all the local families and kids came to cheer and ride their bikes too. That's what it's all about. Bring on the next one!