Loamtastic edit. PMBA Kirroughtree venue may not be the biggest hill for enduro stages but the loam appears to be absolutely prime.
Hiding in the south west corner of Scotland and one of the 7Stanes this is not the most well known of the Scottish trail centres but well worth a visit, the XC trails ooze with character and bedrock bursts through the gravelled trails giving a lovely natural feel.
When it comes to enduro PMBA have always had a good selection of off-piste trails including fresh cut gems with that awesome loam.
This year was no exception, with 50% fresh cut new trails, 30% bedded in off piste trails and only 20% trail centre the recipe for fun. 301 entrants was a record for this round, with word spreading about the great trails on offer.
“A tougher than imagined race, with fitness and flow key for a good result. PMBA challenging stages putting a smile on most faces yet again” – Mat Wright, Master series leader.
Many riders chose to make a weekend of it, the excellent facilities for camping including the onsite showers and toilets have made this round one where many racers bring the families.
Stage one wrapped itself around Larg hill, starting out with a trail centre blast, backward down a red climb before plunging off-piste. A great opening stage and one we have used before.
“It’s one of my favourite locations in the series, great mix of stages varying from loamy, technical and full of sniper roots to fast trail centre with lots of flow” – Matt Gosling, Senior winner & series leader.
Stage two was the shortest of the stages, with a long transition on a harvester track with deep puddles to catch the unaware. Starting at the very top of Larg hill this was an entirely new stage with lots of gravity, jumps, mud, roots and slippy rock gardens.
“Being my joint favourite(with Grizedale) race on the PMBA calendar, Kirro brought the goods again! Had a mega time cruising round with PMBA don Kev, training the loamy trialsy-tech stages, with just enough pedalling and flat out downhill. The atmosphere was bob on with big grins all round, and the thousands of calories burnt justified the heaps of local tablet that got devoured after!” – Jim Topliss.
Stage three was a reworked classic, doubling the length of the initial push-up on yet another side of Larg hill added more gravity to the stage, but still the most physical of the day’s stages. This long stage started tight and twisty on soft and slightly wet ground, making it hard work to carry speed.
An easy but intimidating #KSDrop spat you out onto the fire road crossing before the flatter middle section sapped at your remaining energy. The final section piled on the gravity as you dive into “Big trees” the old, tall, sparse and grassy woodland finish to the stage.
After three stages on three sides of Larg Hill, there was a long transition to the other side of the forest and to a PMBA classic of “Doon Hill”.
Starting at the high point the first third is off-piste, each year we use this the roots become more prominent and the potential for sliding out increases but the smiles to do diminish. You’re soon spat out onto trail centre, lots of flow and lots of bedrock features jutting out of the trail this is signature Kirroughtree through atmospheric moss-draped trees.
The final section fires you down one of the oldest off-piste sections in the forest, wide and with multiple lines, your speed is only metered by your bravery and your ability to hold your slide on the big drifty corner that spits you out on the final trail centre sprint to the finish.
One last climb and the final stage awaited the riders, another all-new stage, the steepest and scariest stage had riders sliding around with huge smiles. Typical Kirroughtree top section with a lower section carved through a grassy felled area where steep chutes and jumps awaited.
For a full rundown of the results head over to Roots and Rain.
In the women’s it was left to Scottish multi-discipline pinner, Polly Henderson to post the fastest time, and at 16 the youngest women competing too. Remember the name for the future, be it XC, DH or Enduro this girl has the ability to take on the world.
Josh Hurley won the Mens, with the fastest time for the 2nd year running; and setting the stage for the Scottish to dominate the event.Another local, Bruce McClearly; and winner of the first 2 PMBA Enduro events at Kirroughtree, was fastest of the Masters Men with a stunning 3rd fastest time of the day and Martyn Alderson won the Vet Men class for the English and taking a top 10 overall showing the older blokes are still rapid.