Let me start by telling you that in preparation for this event you should definitely ride your bike at least twice in the two months leading up to it, and probably practice your snowsport more than twice in a year. Just a wee tip from an unknown source.
When I seen that No Fuss Events had announced their new event The Ski-An-Duro on Facebook I did not need to read anymore, I was having it! I didn’t know where it was or what it was but the credit card was out and I was entered. Part of the reason for the no hesitation approach to entry was because No Fuss Events have already cemented a solid reputation as the top providers for mountain bike events in Scotland with the Scottish Enduro Series and the infamous Macavalanche becoming some of the most saught after events in the UK selling out in days (or hours in some cases). The other reason is in my blog name. This event incorporated two of my favourite disciplines, boards and bikes.
How it Works…
The Ski-An-Duro is a snowsport and mountain bike mass start race at Nevis Range in the Scottish Highlands. There is a bike seeding stage and ski/snowboard seeding stage which determines where you position in the mass start.
All riders start on their skis or snowboard at the Summit of Nevis Range and when they are let loose the carnage begins. Everyone follows the flag marked piste with some tight turns, steep slopes and the occasional fallen rider to swerve around. The timed transition is based just above the Gondola station before the start gate of the world cup track. Some riders thought ahead and wore their riding kit for the ski/board stage and most riders donned their full face helmets ready for a quick change to bikes for some serious downhill action.
After a panicked and fast changeover to bikes you ride (or run through the slushy deep snow) to the start gate of the world cup and hurtle yourself from top to bottom with already burning legs and limited energy. I strongly recommend having a go of this track before racing it – it’s a world cup stage for a reason! This year missed out the motorway and took you past the wall ride over a stream and onto the red track down to the arena – the same track used for seeding earlier in the day.
Long story short I came last – by a lot, like I was a good 19 minutes behind first. I have came to the realisation that I need to practice everything – a lot. I entered this event with my highest expectation being survival and I am pleased to say I came away injury free. After having ridden my snowboard twice in the past two seasons and having never ridden the Fort William World Cup Track, I raced it blind and survived. Yes I got off and ran at parts and yes I occasionally demoed some classic falling leaf down the piste but I came home happy, uninjured and with one of the best events I’ve ever experienced ticked off my to-do list.
The No Fuss team timed the event incredibly well. There was barely any waiting around, enough time to get where you needed to be, plenty of time for practising and getting some much needed sustenance and although it is a long day there is so much activity packed in you barely notice how long you have been there.
Huge Thanks goes to…
My Chaperones – The friendliest face in MTB Louise Anna, one of my personal hero’s Fiona Beattie, and the bundle of fun pocket rocket Mikayla Parton. I was slightly terrified at the prospect of trying to keep up with these fit, fast and fierce highland lassies, at my best I’ve been middle of the pack in races and usually slowest on the transitions. Not only did the girls not leave me behind, they pushed me to keep going when I wanted to stop, they made me feel part of their team and honestly I don’t think I would have survived on my own – so thank you ladies!
My big pal Howie for giving me a place to crash and supporting me when I was tumbling my way down the snowboard stage of the mass start. He’s good people.
The Flow Rider crew who were a huge support throughout the whole day, standing slopeside and cheering me on, offering to ride with me and just generally being amazing ladies.
The No Fuss Events Team for running an absolute cracker of an event and Glen Thomson Films for capturing it so perfectly.
Last but not at all least my supporters – She Who Dares for providing some comfy apres-ride gear and Booicore for letting me change from snow to bike kit with my dignity intact!
I recommend that anyone who rides bikes and skis or snowboard enter this event next year. It is incredible and a true test of your riding skill whilst still being inclusive for the slow and steady types (like me!).
Stay tuned to find out about my first Hike-A-Bike up Helvellyn!