Hebridean Cycle Club

Paul at Swordale


Race Report - 2006 SXC MTB Series Race 7 Aviemore

30 September 2006

Outstanding Results For Island Riders!

The final round of the Scottish Cross Country Mountain Bike series took Paul Smith and Gavin Earons to Aviemore. The overall series results are based on the best five results from the seven races and it was really close at the top. With all the top competitors present, they both knew that only a race win would guarantee them a top three finish in the series. However, they had trained hard (twenty four hours of high intensity training in a fortnight) and finishing fourth overall was not in their game plan!

Gavin attacked from the start, went straight into the lead and pushed hard all the way up the first long climb. He rode well through the next two steep, twisty, rooted single track sections and found himself with a slight lead at the high point of the circuit. Now he had to try and hold on to it on the way down – not normally his strong point! He through caution to the wind and with his fastest descending of the series he still had the lead as he approached the end of the first lap. However Alasdair, his main rival, caught and passed him at the line to finish the first lap a yard ahead! Gavin fought back and 100 yards later he had regained the lead. He powered up the hill but could not break away and, at the end of the second lap, he led but only by 3 inches! It was going to be all other nothing over the last lap! By the top of the final climb, he had gained a ten second lead but didn’t let up. He flew down the last descent and gave it everything in a final headlong sprint to the finish line. This time there was no way back for Alasdair. Gavin pulled away and punched the air in delight as he crossed the line thirty second ahead to take his first MTB race win!

Paul just had time to congratulate Gavin before he started his own race. He went off hard, but so too did two of the others, Colin and Matt were just ahead of him after the first lap. The series winner, Willie, thought they had all gone off too fast and, convinced they would slow down, he let them go – wrong! He was to finish the race three minutes behind in fourth place. Paul had obviously learned from a series of crashes in practice and knew where to push hard and where to be more cautious. He was riding hard but within his limits and, by the end of the second lap, Matt had fallen back slightly leaving Paul and Colin to fight it out for the race win. Colin, a former downhill specialist, tried hard to lose Paul on the descents – but couldn’t! Paul, a superb climber, tried to lose Colin on the climbs – but couldn’t! This was going down to the wire. At the start of the fourth and final lap, they were still neck and neck but Paul was looking strong. He tried once more to break away on the long climb but Colin stayed with him and, despite a crash on the long descent, Colin was right behind Paul at the foot of the hill. Paul believed he was stronger than his rival and, with half a mile of fire road left to the finish, he went for it! All the training had paid off, Colin could not stay with him and Paul won by eight seconds. Not only had he won the race, his average lap time would have earned him fourth place in the Elite race – an astonishing performance for someone in his first year of racing!
With two wins on the day, they could not have done any better but how had they finished in the series? Some quick arithmetic showed that they had both finished second overall! All the hard hours of training had been worth it. Paul is already looking forward to next season when he has decided to move up into the Elite category – wins will be harder to come by there but, if he continues to train hard, he can do really well.

Paul and Gavin would like to thank the Lewis and Harris Sports Council for the financial assistance which helped them take part in the series

Gavin in SXC event
Gavin in Race Mode!

Gavin in SXC event
Paul in Race Mode!


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