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Mark McPhilips @ Trans Scotland 2007

Day 4: Dalbeattie to New Abbey; 65km, 1450m climbing
THE Time Trial, 15km, 400m climbing

My tactic was simple I had nothing to lose. ‘All or nothing’, this scenario focused my mind. I had to go fast, take risks and not worry about the consequences. The main consequences were the usual suspects falling off (never good and it hurts) and punctures. Normally a puncture would be a nightmare but maybe not quite the end of your hopes of Top ten etc. Today there were no such luxuries; a puncture today meant the end of my race. As a result, I carried no tube, no puncture repair kit, no pump and no multi-tool. I felt liberated.

Mak getting wet at Trans Scotland 2007

If you could design a mountain bike course suited to my strengths it would end up just like Dalbeatie. Short rocky technical climbs, very tricky short rocky descents, constant changes in direction, lots of balance and speed were required! The course placed a higher emphasis on skills and technique than most mountain bike trails.

I really cannot remember much from the race. I know I nailed every part of the course and once again made no mistakes and this time the signs were pointing the right way and the marshals, well they were marshalling. What I do remember is the euphoric feeling I got as I crossed the line. Had I won, it was not very likely but what I did know is that I could not have ridden any better.

I spied Dan and his friends sat on a log near the finish. They were all buzzing. Dan too had done a great ride and now looked like a serious challenger for the overall. I sat down on the log in the sun talking bikes for over an hour, occasionally looking up at the other finishers. Eventually we checked out the giant plasma screen that shows the ‘Live’ results as riders crossed the line. I had finished 10th. That was more like it!

the MTBers 10th Oct 2007

Eating is a big problem on the TransScotland. You soon are fed up of the daily offering of sandwiches, bananas etc supplemented with energy juice, bars and gels. Sometimes you need to eat what you crave rather than what you should. With this thought firmly in our minds, we ride into Dalbeattie.  We are seeking the local latte culture for an all-important frothy caffeine fix. We even manage to combine this with a Full Scottish Breakfast!

The day so far was great and so it continued! Great riding, blue skies, Mediterranean blue sea (honestly) with grassy headlands jutting out into the sea breeze (see pic on left). These were perfect places to stop and rest momentarily while sipping the fine energy juice from our camelbaks. Today’s riding pace was sedate it was almost like cycle touring. Lots of chatting, soaking up the views and most importantly no time limit to chase. The organisers had kindly decided that they would not set one today.

As we rode into New Abbey, we cycled past the beer garden of The Criffel Inn (see pic above) owned by Clive Forth ex-pro downhiller. Well it would be rude not to. We join the other lunatics on this event in the beer garden. The day just gets better and better. Until...

It turns out that Dan and his mates have booked to stay at the Criffel Inn. Leaving me to trudge off on my own and put up my tent in some farmers field. While ordering my next drink I ask the question already knowing the answer. “There is no room at the inn!”

New Abbey is a two-pub village, so not all was lost! A quick stretch of the legs led me to the other pub across the road. I skip back with the good news just as it starts to rain.

The rest of the evening was fantastic. Even my little fall out with a marine, who was trying to hog all the seats in the pub did not end up in disaster. Instead he walked off and called me a wa*ker. I can live with that!