Monday, 4 January 2016

7Stanes - Innerleithen - 'Matador' Downhill

First of all a Happy New Year to one & all.
I start 2016 where I finished off from last year at the 7Stanes Innerleithen bike trails in the Scottish Borders, my friend John & I took a trip down during the holidays for a blast down some of the downhill trails.

I could hardly believe my eyes at the carnage after the flooding caused by storm Frank which happened a couple of days after I was last here just after Christmas, then there had already been flooding but after storm Frank the flooding was the highest it had been for over one hundred years ! The river Tweed must be around 150-200 yards from the car park for the bike trails & going by the sheer amount of debris all around the car park it must of been of been easily under 3-4 foot deep of water !
Geared up & ready to hit the trails & John new to mountain biking (hence the white trainers) was excited to get going...

John was very excited indeed !!!

We set off up the push up path towards our first chosen downhill trail called the "Matador".
There are four down hill trails here at Innerleithen called 'Matador', 'Cresta Run', 'Gold Run' & 'Make or Brake' aswell as the red graded cross country trail that I did with Davy the last time here. 

Pushing the bikes up the steep push up path in the heavy rain it was quite interesting to see some of the gnarly, rocky & rooty sections the we'd have to negotiate on the way back down the downhill trail.

After what must of been nearly an hour of pushing the bikes up to the starting point of the downhill trails we reached a choice of routes, straight on for the Matador our first chosen route or turn right for the other three trails. What was quite concerning was the amount of branches & twigs we encountered on the path pushing up the hill & even a couple of fallen trees, so we were wondering what would be on the trail proper on the way back down :-/
As we pushed on another 50 yards or so to the start of the Matador, the ground was covered in super sludgy mud ! The rain has been so heavy over the last few weeks that the ground cannot cope with it any more so is well & truly water logged !

Off we went luckily the thick gloopy mud soon gave way to wet rocky & rooty trails covered in pine needles.

I kept stopping to wait on John who never appeared at one point &  I could not hear the squealing of his wet brakes so shouted up the hill to him but got no response, this section I just came down had big rocky sections & I thought the worst thinking he had come off, so off I climbed back up to see if he was ok ! He was no where to be seen so I kept climbing up the hill until I came to the fire road, still no John so I just assumed he took the fire road back down as he did say that it was a bit difficult for him not being used to this sort of biking terrain, so down I went again back to my bike so I could take off down the trail.

Some brilliant drop offs & jumps down this run & loads of technical roots & rocks to keep the brain working hard.
The above picture doesn't really show the broken branch hung up on the tree very well, it was a big sized branch which had broken off during the recent storms. I did stop to try pulling it down so that it wouldn't fall on anyone but it was just too well hooked up :-/

I arrived back at the car park after a brilliant blast down the downhill trail but there was no sign of John here at the bottom, I went back to my van to clean my goggles & have a quick bite to eat & drink, still no John starting to get a wee bitty concerned I phoned him only for it too ring out, trying again he this time answered to say he got lost somewhere on the fire road :-D finally he made it back to the van & we had a good laugh about it.
John was all for calling it a day soaking wet, muddy & disheartened & didn't relish the thought of pushing back up the to the top of the downhill trails again, I managed to talk him into giving a small section of the XC red trail a go, so we climbed uphill to the start of the 'Cadon Bank' which has a few good drop offs & some great jumps on the way back down the twisty woodland trail to the car park.

As we climbed up the hill I stopped at a clearing of the trees to look in awe at the amount of flooding covering the Tweed valley below, it was so much worse than when I was here with Davy less than a week ago. The picture directly above you can see the river Tweed to the right of the picture & the bike trail car park to the left so it just goes to show how vast the flooding had been, the river is still very high & with more heavy rain forecast I would not be surprised if it floods again :-/ 

Last wee push of the day before...

...the last little high speed blast back down again...
...much to the relief of John ! 

We both had a brilliant time I'll just need to encourage John to get out more to get his skinny little legs built up for serious hill climbs required for places like this :-)
Thanks for visiting & cheerio for now.