Mike & Mary diary: Autumn Greetings from Chilmark!

Mike and I recently returned from a solid travelling and racing trip to Europe, although we were technically in Europe for a full three weeks, it was segmented into two separate continental excursions: Great Britain and mainland Europe. This added an extra element of travel and planning to what could easily be considered the two biggest races of the year – the World Championships and the World Cup finals.

Fresh off the red eye flight, we downed big Americanos to help recall the finer points of left-hand driving and bolster an attempt at the traffic circles that ensnare the Glasgow airport. We ended up making an unscheduled stop for a Scottish supper and soon after the upright night caught up to us, and we were compelled for safety reasons to stop at the first pricey B & B that we could find right in the town of Arrochar. It was seeming like a good thing to have planned to arrive a week before our competitions.

This early fall in Scotland seemed incredibly wet – fluctuating from a continual mist to drizzle with brief moments when the sun forced its way through the drizzle. Though there was still evidence of summer with the amazing variety of greens – hills covered by dark pine, grasses, and blooming pink heather amongst the ever present confused bare patches of forest service tree harvest.

Mike and I have always enjoyed visiting Scotland and in our six years attending this venue have found Fort William and its low elevation ski area style race course to be one of our favorites. The course itself has morphed year to year but seemingly always in the direction of a more rideable, faster and less technical. this year at worlds it was no exception. This year we had to climb once up once and then go down six kilometer plus loop of pavement of hard-bermed blue stone excavated into the hills at the foot of the highest point in Great Britain. To our dismay, almost every nasty technical section from years past had been reshaped, smoothed out or taken away all together.

Ok it might have not been a true rugged to mountain bike style cross country course, but it is worth mentioning the effort of the Ben Nevis resort to develop a network of trails that can be ridden 12 months a year and would be a boggy mess for 11 and a half months of the year if not for big development and maintenance. Places like Ben Nevis play a key role in the future of the sport by expanding riding terrain. What we were riding was clearly 100% contrived and the starkest contrast to what the natural environment would have dished up for riding here in the wet.

To read the complete diary entry, click here.

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