In May Max Schumann went to Ireland and Scotland – two very cool and very green countries.
Rich in crazy (bike) culture. I had been looking forward to these two rounds the whole year. I have very fond memories of previous trips to Scotland with its amzingly flowy trails.
Suprisingly, the weather in Ireland was as good as the trails. With gusty winds clearing the sky of clouds on race day, it actually got pretty hot, especially on the climbs. It was sunny enough to burn some Irish spectators’ necks. The spectators were the craziest and most remarkable aspect of the whole experience. Such passion as I had rarely experienced before. Just to be there and to witness how local racer Greg Callaham was roared to his first ever World Series victory was breathtaking.
The race itself was probably the most minimal EWS race in history. 7 Stages, each on the same hill. No stage with more than 250 Meters of vertical drop. Nonetheless it was diversified and challenging. It was all about the details. Turning excactly at the right angles. Knowing the hidden roots.
I completed 7 solid runs. No major issues, no crashes. Place 55. I am happy. It is just crazy, how the level in the sport is continually rising. More and more fast riders are appearing from all around the world. And the ones who have been there for a while are not slowing down either. You simply have to attack and ride at your very best!
The day after the race, we drove over to Scotland. Another country of green hills. The landscape is suprisingly similar. Will the race be as well?
Arriving in Scotland we had some free time before official race training. From previous experince, I wanted to spend a relaxed day riding a trail centre. Kirroughtree was on the way. The black loop is one of my favourite trails. 30k of flow, nearly no pause for breath. The climb just flat enough to always keep the speed, and the descent not to steep. So you don’t have to brake. Racing here would be hard. But having fun is pretty easy. For anyone, really!
The best example for the succes of a trail centre, you can find in Tweed Valley. The heart of Scottish mountain biking! The whole community here seems to support and to live this sport. It’s no wonder that some of the local riders are racing at the top level in EWS. A whole new generation of riders is also coming through and you see it; dozens and dozens of kids on bikes.
This EWS round has pretty much the same character as last year. Day 1 takes place around Innerleithen. Steep trails through spruce woods. On official downhill tracks as well as on freshly built trails. Rough, mad, steep and tight.
Day 2 around the trail centre of Glentress. More flat, more wide , more gravel, more flowy. Unfortunately during the races, flowy quickly become pedally. Still good anyway.
The race turned out to be maybe the worst of my career. A flat tire had already slowed me down on sunny Saturday in Innerleithen. After an overnight storm and rain, the mud in Glentress totally clogged-up my bike. First the front then the rear wheel. Nothing would move anymore. I have never experienced that before. By the time the bike was rolling again, minutes had ticked away and the race was lost. Damn! On the final stage I pedalled out all my aggression. Fish&Chips and stout after the race calmed me down. That’s part of the game. It can’t always work out.
I am grateful to have had this chance to go to Scotland riding amazing trails!
– Max Schumann