Yeah, yeah, it’s all good now, isn’t it? After 4 previous instalments whining like a ponce, Stumpy Rider has faced his demons and emerged with a jammy 1-1 draw. No doubt he’ll be all philosophical with a new found respect for the trails or wanting to do next year’s event on a rigid singlespeed. Naked.
It’s later in the afternoon now. All 4 Dons have ridden and I’m waiting on BMFW to complete his second stint. It’s not so bad this time. Big Col’s with me at transition and 40Something’s further up the trail looking out for the tell-tale orange “support” Camelbak.
BMFW appears, relief etched on his face. We exchange pleasantries, the Camelbak and timing chip and once again I’m off. This time it’s much, much better. Water splash – done. Boardwalk – tick. Steps Of Doom – easy. It’s smooth, it’s confident, it’s sooo much better. Round the back, Lazy K is at least attempted and I reckon I cleaned about a third of it before I join the merry band of walkers. Into the technical descents and I know the lines and ride with more confidence and less brakes. Water splash and subsequent section are taken in my stride but I’m tired now. I push my bike to the Hole in the Wall and the final sections sap my energy. Brain fade means I overcook the photo-op hairpin and choose to walk down rather than risk a stupid off. In the process I wreck another rider’s line – I apologise profusely but she doesn’t seem too disappointed tho’.
The transition area appears ahead, then disappears as I make the final run into the trees on the skills loop boards and, while there’s delight that I’ve finished/survived my 2nd of 2 laps, there’s a little sadness that I won’t be riding these trails again for some time.
To my surprise, Big Col’s waiting to go. The clock was ticking and we’d worked out that, being the 4th rider in our sequence, he wouldn’t be able to start a second lap before 7.30pm cut-off. However 40Something was apparently just that little bit too magnanimous in sacrificing his own lap to his team mate in order to poof off to the luxurious B&B which his family had recently arrived and checked into.
About 15 minutes in, Big Col must have been questioning the wisdom of swapping with 40Something who, by now, must have been out of the shower and on his second beer or something equally taxing. The heavens opened and Fort William was treated to a torrential downpour.