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Mark McPhilips @ Trans Scotland 2007

Day 2, Part 1:Moffat to Drumlanrig Castle; 55km, 1600m climbing

Today’s linking stage was much shorter than yesterday and the terrain covered looked on the map to be more of the rideable type rather than yesterdays ’bogfest’. I was still worried that I was not as ‘race fit’ as I thought. Normally on a linking stage you pace yourself to conserve energy for the Time Trial stages where every second counts. On a linking stage if you finished within the time limit, everyone was allocated the same overall finishing time. Mak getting wet at Trans Scotland 2007

Today was different; I needed to prove to myself that I was going all right. I lined up next to the favourites for the overall title of TransScotland champion. There were maybe 10 people capable of winning and they all generally rode the first hour of the linking stages very fast before easing back later on. The advantage of riding like this were, clear trails and no queues for the showers at the finish! I was with the first ten riders over the first big climb of the day. At the top, I peered back over my shoulder to witness another 300 riders snaking there way up this mammoth climb.

On the second climb, I had found my rhythm and was riding behind the 2 riders from the ‘Extreme Endurance’ team that included World 24hr mountain bike rider Rob Lee. I decided there and then that I was obviously fit enough to compete at the top level this year so I eased off and enjoyed the rest of the ride. This included loads of quality singletrack most of which I had never ridden before in my life. Life was getting better and better all the time!


Day 2, Part 2: Time Trial 10km, 250m climbing

I have ridden a lot of this route before. Virtually every kilometre of this ride is tree root infested making for insanely technical riding. This course played to my strengths, today would be the day where I found out exactly at what level I would be competing at this year. I had ridden a perfect ride, no mistakes, no loss of momentum, some cunning lines that had saved time. I knew I was flying I had caught the twelve riders who had started in front of me. Then it happened, the one incident that would shape the rest of my week. This is where the bitterness started, the feeling I had been cheated out of months of hard training, the sacrifices I had made, all for nothing. Minutes were lost due to poor marshalling and non-existent signing on the course. When I eventually crossed the line I had ridden an extra downhill and climb. I still finished in a respectable 17th but I was livid.

In retrospect, the stage was a joke and the results should never have stood. Other riders got lost like me. Others had only ridden 8km rather than 10km and so there were some amazing times from some happy go lucky riders. These too were allowed to stand, what a joke! I complained to the organisers, realising already that they did not have the balls to own up to their mistakes. Still, I needed to express my grievances to someone and they were the "ones in charge". Needless to say I was furious that night and did not sleep at all. I was now way down on the overall and had been denied a Top Ten finish on the stage.

Life was no longer great and it was all there fault.

the MTBers 10th Oct 2007

On the start ramp in "Tour de France" style