Baptism of fire

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kristie
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Baptism of fire

Postby kristie » Tue May 19, 2009 8:53 pm

On the back of all the interest from my recent trip to Scotland I have decided to start this thread to tell my story...
Since it was my first experience with the SSDT I can't comment on it's severity except to say that the organisers said it was one of the toughest and talk in the field was "this is your first time?? You should have been here last year..."
Monday Day 1
monday was my early day so I was away at 8:03 am, we had a short road section to the first group of sections at Trotters Burn. There were 4 sections here all following the creek up a series of waterfalls that seemed to increase in size, so when I crashed off the first one hope started to dwindle 'was I goin to get through any sections this week?' But the spark was reignited as I fell over six times in the slime and water walking the next two sections then on the bike managed to keep it upright and moving forward and even clean one of them! I whimp out just short of the final waterfall thinking it is a long six days if you get injured at the first group!
Now to get to the next group of sections we had to cross Annat moore... People can tell you all the do's and don'ts of crossing a moore, but until you have done it yourself you never really 'get it', it is not similar in anyway to anything else I have ever ridden. I start following a group of older guys who are picking and weaving their way along making reasonable time, then decide that a straight line would be much quicker and my theory works alright for a little while, then my bike decides to stop in a slime hole and I learn to fly... thankfully the moorelands are soft, after another 3 or 4 flying lessons I slip back in behind the group of older guys and let them do the depth testing for me :wink:
We arrive at our next group of sections Annat, I am struggling for somewhere to park my bike when Dan Thorpe points to the quantity of grass in my spokes and tells me not to park across the river or my bike wont be there when I get back, a quick glance downstream and I decide I don't like my chances of getting my bike out of there so I find a nice park out of the water... There are 3 sections in this group, the first is tricky with large round boulders, the second has a large waterfall straight in the gate, I don't bother walking the third as I can't imagine getting up the second. Sections 2 and 3 are what is known as a double sub, so the start gates of 3 are the end gates for 2. I ride 1 and line up for 2& 3 as Nigel Birkett is walking into the section I ask " is there another way to the start of 3 if I don't make this?" Nigel smiles "oh you'll get up there if we have to drag you up..." So I get up and have to bumble my way through 3 :D
Then another moore crossing this time alot less gunho as I picked my way between the little orange flags with a group of other riders, I have discovered it is quicker to go slower coz you spen less time up to your knees peat mud! There is another short road section followed by some gravel road and we arrive at Loch shiel A & B, the view from these groups back across the Loch is magnificent. From here we have some more gravel to Coire Dubh, the water at this group scared me! The rocks there were big grey awkward boulders and the water was gushing over them so fast you couldn't here each other speak...
Lunch was held at Strontian where you hand your card in and for 15min are not allowed to touch your bike. So we all stand around in the rain drinking cups of tea and telling stories from the morning. Mum & dad meet me here & I tell them all about my day so far, they video'd my clean @ Trotters - I am super excited it may be my only clean all week so its great to have it on film. Then my number is called and I am back on the bike. By now Nigel and the rest of the Scorpa team are starting to get ahead of me so I rush through Inversanda and Gearadh to try and make some time. Now the weirdest thing I have ever done on a trials bike, as we all line up to catch the ferry... It was surreal to sit on a ferry with ten other trials bikes, as we near the other side Katy Sunter informs me that one year a guy tried to ride off the ferry bridge before they put it down and broke both his ankles, its quite high...
The long road section and roadworks from the ferry to the final group wasn't kind to my bike and it turned into a steam engine on the drop into lagnaha. A quick fix of shorting the thermostat out & it was good as new. Lagnaha was a fantastic group, big, rolly, grippy boulders with water of course but only a trickle on what we had already ridden. An awesome way to finish the day off. We then had a long road ride home under time control so that we couldn't speed. Back at the paddock there was confusion over time so we didn't waste any working on the bike just checked straight into parc ferme - later we would realise we still had half hour but better to be safe then sorry. Now home for a warm bath and a cold lager, er orange juice :D
Attachments
SSDT Day 1,4 May, Lagnaha Sections 1-3, (12).jpg
Day 1,4 May, Lagnaha Sections 1-3
SSDT Day 1,4 May, Lagnaha Sections 1-3, (13).jpg
Day 1,4 May, Lagnaha Sections 1-3
IMG_4518.jpg
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Re: Baptism of fire

Postby bigdamo » Wed May 20, 2009 4:41 pm

That's a great story so far looking forward to the rest. :D



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Re: Baptism of fire

Postby kristie » Thu May 21, 2009 5:50 pm

OK, since day one turned into a bit of a novel, I am going to try and condense the rest to just the exciting bits (trouble is I thought it was all pretty exciting :D )
Tuesday Day 2
Tuesday for me was a late start so I wasn't away until 11:49. In the half hour work time I was able to change the thermostat, tighten all the bolts that had worked themselves loose and cable tie my subframe together (the scottish is hard on bikes :wink: )
I get chatting to Mark and Glenn the two riders ahead of me, they are super nice blokes, Glenn has ridden the SSDT 21 times!! So I stick with them for the morning, learn heaps and have an absolute blast, they are fast across the moorelands and between them hold a wealth of knowledge. My morning is going fantastic (aside from a broken thermostat wire meaning I boil the bike again, oops) I clean the first group and put down some reasonable scores in some difficult sections, then comes creag lundie. I will never forget this group. The mud hill between the sections is almost unrideable and completely unwalkable. I run out of fuel halfway up a waterfall & if not for some great catching skills from my old man could have been in serious trouble. So i have to return to the bottom of the mud hill to top up and then rebattle it to get back to the sections. On the exit of the next section I have a silly fall over smashing the back end off my front brake lever and loosing the piston from the master cylinder. Now I have no front brake - just as well the sections are uphill! The very next section I ride into the chain comes off and I have to push out the side. Finally at the top of Creag Lundie I discover the only way out is down a steep muddy hill with no front brake - it is a hair raising descent!!! :shock:
At the bottom I am able to fix the front brake and am back on the road. After lunch things don't seem to improve... I have lost my riding buddies & am tackling the moorelands solo. Doing much better then Mondays attempt, although the weather seems to be worse. My dodge short from the morning works loose & I boil the bike again although with the quantity of water around I don't realise until it stops! I top the radiator up with water from the moorelands and give it a moment to cool. Crossing fingers and preying I kick it over and it starts, good old bullet proof Scorpa :D
I arrive at a river crossing to find a group of riders assessing lines and a guy on the other side draining the water out of his bike, he yells across at us "they have been carrying them, don't bother trying to ride it" to be honest my first thought is 'grab a gasser, they are feather weights' the water is up over our waists and after helping carry 3 or 4 bikes across my boots are well and truly full. I only get another 3 mile across the moore and I run out of fuel again! I am shattered, I have to keep topping up my radiator and tightening the cable ties holding my subframe together, it has been a real test for me and I am thrilled to get to Witches Burn and see mum, dad and meet Brenton and Connor. Although it is dissappointing I don't have time to talk to them and to make things worse I get a 5 :cry:
There is a short road section home and I have to put my bike straight into Parc Ferme because I am 12 minutes late. I huddle in the Scorpa tent with a warm cup of tea and wait for mum & dad to pick me up, Nigel turns to me "well today certainly has been a baptism of fire for you"



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Re: Baptism of fire

Postby BAT Woman » Fri May 22, 2009 10:05 pm

Great reading Kristie!
Looking forward to reading the next 4 days.
Are you riding at Canberra this weekend? Bring the photos if you are.
Catch ya!
Bev



kristie
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Re: Baptism of fire

Postby kristie » Mon May 25, 2009 5:33 pm

Wednesday Day 3
I wasn't away until 11.03 on Wednesday but I found myself hanging from the fence of Parc Ferme at 10 'chafing at the bit'. I had a fair amount of maintenance to do and couldn't wait to get back behind the handlebars - was certain that I would have a much better day :D
First up I swapped the subframe, as I figured everything else could wait but if the backend collapsed I might be in real strife... Then I rewired the thermostat and replaced the mucky water in the radiator with coolant. As I am doing a final inspection I find icicles hanging from the fuel tank - panick... It was time to go and I had a leaking fuel tank! Thankfully we had a spare kindly donated from Mark Sunters old bike and I only lost five minutes in the change over.
Finally, I am on the bike and smiling. The water at the first group is a massive improvement from the previous evening and I manage a clean in the first section! I head into an 'all new' section of moore, stoked that I have caught Mark and Glenn so I must be on time :D We do quite alot of moore riding for only a handful of sections then down a scetchy one lane road with two way traffic into the lunch stop at fersit, where almost everyone has a story to tell of a near miss they had on the road in. From Fersit to Meannanach there is alot of single track and moorelands. It rains heavily all day and we soon find ourselves carrying bikes across another river this time well above waist deep!!
At Meannanach & Loch Eilde Cottage the sections are roaring, most people opt for the option of trying to jump from one bank to the other rather then taking on the white water. It is full on! The next 3 groups of sections are scrubbed due to the quantity of water, but we get to ride some unreal trail sections to get to them.
The final section of road into Fort William is punishing. I freeze, but I make it back inside time & take advantage of it. My bike is ready for a new back tyre and on closer inspection I find the back brake pads are down to one application only. The only trouble is I am shivering so much I can't get the spanner onto the back axel! When I finally get the wheel off it is whisked away and I am handed a spare to throw on to overnight in Parc Ferme, I check my bike in and retire for the night.
Attachments
SSDT Day 3, 6 May, Leanachen Sections 1+2 (77).jpg
Day 3, 6 May, Leanachen Sections 1+2



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Re: Baptism of fire

Postby keithj » Mon May 25, 2009 10:10 pm

Wow, this is great reading Kristie! I must say any vague notion I had of riding this event disappeared somewhere in a boghole of your first moor crossing... seems you need to have a Diploma of Bush Mechanics and an Iron Will as items 1 and 2 on the checklist...
It's only day 3, but I say give you a medal now!


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kristie
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Re: Baptism of fire

Postby kristie » Tue May 26, 2009 8:14 pm

Thursday Day 4
I was really sick when I got up on thursday and quite frightened. I knew it was typically a hard day on Thursday because the loop is long and it crosses Rannoch moore. We headed down to the paddock at 9.30 expecting a 10.17 start and knowing that I needed to swap my rear wheel. I sent mum and dad on a mission to get cold & flu tablets or pain killers or anything... while they were doing that I went to Parc Ferme to prepare. When I got there it was like a ghost town and all the bikes were still in parc ferme. No one had left yet :? Confused I wandered back to Scorpa where I was told there was a new condensed route and the start time was now 10.30 with two riders away a minute. Unreal, my spirits were lifted as I realised I may actually may be able to survive :D
The new route starts with a reverse of the previous afternoon, although the water has dropped considerably and they don't feel at all like the same sections. It then looped around Kinlochleven, where the pre 65 two day was held. The big disadvantage with having 2 away a minute is it gets compressed at the entry to the sections and lines start to develop and this wastes time. Tha advantage - I get to sit in ques with the likes of Dougie Lampkin :D :D :D and occasionally reality dawns that we are actually lining up to ride the same section - thats pretty cool!! Then he rides the section making it look like a tar road and I don't get two feet through the in gate :oops:
The sections are considerably easier as the organisers have put alot of thought into areas to avoid with the rising water. We do an awesome hill climb at pipeline, where again the hardest thing is getting into the sections as we all que up on top of one another. The day finishes with a knarly descent from Pap of Glencoe to the road. Dan Thorpe warns me as I am leaving to take it easy and I soon see why. The hill follows the fenceline and consists of a rabbit warren of slick, muddy ruts with the occasional rock drop off thrown in the mix. It is by far the hardest part of the day, by the time I hit the bottom my legs turn to jelly and I am relieved to be able to sit on the road section.
I arrive back at Fort William well within time and am able to get all my maintenance done so I have nothing to do in the morning :D



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keithj
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Re: Baptism of fire

Postby keithj » Fri May 29, 2009 8:59 pm

Hi folks,
David Ault has supplied a few photos of Kristie, so I'm adding them in the appropriate day as Kristie relates her story.
Thanks David for the pics - they certainly help convey the weather!
PS. Day 5 should be a good story, looking at the pictures I have... :wink:


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Re: Baptism of fire

Postby gasgasman » Sat May 30, 2009 8:44 am

Great story and pics!
Kristie, would you by any chance be wearing THONGS in the third pic???????!!!!!!!!!


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Re: Baptism of fire

Postby motocentral » Sat May 30, 2009 2:53 pm

Most girls wear thongs these days....from what i've been told.


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