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Mark McPhilips @ Trans Scotland 2007

Day 3: Drumlanrig to Dalbeattie; 85km, 1650m climbing

We all lined up in front of Drumlanrig castle for the start of Day 3. The setting was like something you would see on the Tour de France and should have raised my spirits. Even having Maggie there waving me off failed to revive all the hopes and dreams I had started the week with. The first half of the day was spent riding with an Iron Man called Gavin. Poor bloke had to put up with my bizarre mutterings all day. We both suffered on the first long and steep off-road climb following an old Gold Mining track up into the Lowther hills, which reach over 700m in height. The reward was a fast rocky descent with several stream and river crossings before reaching tarmac on the valley floor. Here we formed a mini peleton, with a few other riders and the next 5 miles felt effortless.

Mak getting wet at Trans Scotland 2007

After lunch, we reached the outskirts of Ae Forest, one of the ‘7 stanes’ mountain bike routes in the Scottish borders. To put it simply once we entered Ae Forest the trails would be mainly singletrack and in this particular forest the fast type rather than slow and techy. This meant only one thing these trails HAD to be ridden as FAST AS POSSIBLE even it was a linking stage.

I must have been some sight blasting through Ae! The weather was damp and so I had started the day wearing full-length tights and a long sleeved top. I had even resorted to wearing ‘roadie style’ neoprene overshoes, a mountain bike fashion faux pas. The pace I was riding was causing me to seriously overheat. The tights were now rolled up to make ¾ length tights.

Therefore, to recap, ¾ length rolled up tights, neoprene overshoes, arms bent, legs pumping, heart rate monitor bleeping, and a distorted face something akin to Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining!

the MTBers 10th Oct 2007

I pass and catch Dan Mathers from Seamons Cycling club who I know from last years TransWales and Polaris events. He quickly abandons his riding companions and hops on board the crazy run away train. My hoots of laughter no longer echo down the valley on their own. Dan’s delirious cries accompany them calling out for other riders like the pied piper.

At some secret station, Dan must have got off to look for his old companions. It is now just me and The Omega Man. He is the last mentally fast and very scary descent.

Everything is now a reaction some primitive part of my mind has taken control. I lean, brake, pump, pull, jump my way down until reality hits hard at the bottom, the trail is now flat! I once again start to notice other riders, I see faces, hear people and more importantly realise I am hungry. ‘Must eat’ is the new mantra; once again, from one strange state to the other, the TransScotland is like that, I love it!