Innerleithen Mountain Biking (Jul 2014)

By Alex Corlett

On Sunday, July 27, Dan and I went down to Innerleithen in the Borders, to take advantage of the uplift service. It was part of an event called “Jayfest”, a two-day programme of skills courses and workshops set up in commemoration of a local downhiller called Jaymie, who died tragically and abruptly only a few years ago.

The weather was off and on, but that’s never too much of a bother at Inners – tree cover is good and the ground is well-draining stone. We took one run down “Matador” to scope out its well-known 8 and 7 foot drops, before coming back up again to hit them. Dan bravely got us started with the 8-footer, while I went first on the one below.

I have a principle about doing the scariest thing first, so that it’s out the way and you can feel good and relax for the rest of the day. Also, in a slightly OCD stylee, I like to hit things 3 times. First one could be a fluke, second one might still just be lucky, but if you do it right thrice then you know it’s in the bag.

Caught them on Wendy’s camera in slow motion as well, which is incredibly satisfying to watch back! If you pause it at the right point off the jump, it looks like my eyes are actually going to pop out of my head. Cleverly, Dan was wearing a full face helmet, to save him the indignity of having his “drop-off face” recorded on film.

Doing the drops early on worked, I think. We both felt pretty good and loose for the rest of the day. Dan was up to full speed in his recently returned Jekyll, and I found everything else felt reasonably manageable after that. The “Cresta Run” was a wildly steep scree trail, which I struggled on a bit, but the “Gold Run” was probably our choice of the day, taking a slightly gentler line down the hill and making the most of the descent.

“Make Or Brake” is an incredible fun park run into Caddon Bank, a speedy trail that takes you back down to the car park. A few repeats and it was all over. Highly recommended.

Unusually, I had no mechanicals. Maybe because Dan had enough for both of us! From snapping gear cables to the photo, where his crank came off halfway down the final descent. At least it was still attached at one end!

I would add that it’s a definite mistake to think that uplift is only for DH heroes. A) I’m not, and b) neither were loads of people there. I’m sure it won’t be the last uplift we do this year, and if there’s anyone out there who just enjoys going downhill, and would love to know what it’s like to do that all day without cycling back up again, come and give it a go!