When I came in from cycling on a Tuesday night, there was an email from Scottish Cycling saying I had been selected as a member of the team to represent Scotland West at the Inter Regional Championships in 2 weeks’ time.

The Inter Regional Champs is a competition for the best Under 16 Mountain Bike racers in the UK with all 14 regions sending teams made up of 8 riders (4 boys and 4 girls) with 112 riders taking part. The event is held at the Olympic MTB Track at Hadleigh Park in Essex and is based over 5 events. We were being taken to the event by Scottish Cycling and all the competitors were staying in the same hotel – a different experience from the normal races I attend.

I was really excited with the invite but a little bit afraid as I knew it would be a busy weekend racing against the best Under 16 riders in the UK and I was probably one of the youngest riders attending. Two teams were representing Scotland a West and an East team.

We had a practice day the following Saturday at Comrie Croft near Crieff where I met the other riders that I knew. We are all part of the Scottish Cycling MTB Under 16 Development Squad. At Comrie we met our team coaches and managers for the weekend and we practised skills some of which we would be tested on.

The coach for the West was Lucy Grant and the manager was Liz Peacock and for the East the coach was Crawford Carrick-Anderson and the manager was Ian Sikora.

The other West riders were Jaime Johnstone, Jonte Willins, Ben McMullen and the girls were Polly Henderson, Emily Hunter, Skye Donnelly and Sophie Patterson. The riders from the East were Charlie Aldridge (European Champ), Robbie Hearns, Corran Carrick-Anderson and Rory McGurie and the girls were Anna McGorum, Anna Flynn, Mieke Kaljmin and Elena McGorum.

The Trip

On Thursday night we met everyone at Abington services and put our bags and bikes in the vans. All the boys travelled in the same van even though we were in different teams. We drove for about 3 hours and then had an overnight in a Days Inn near Leeds where I shared a room with Ben. In the morning we went for breakfast and then were given Scottish cycling casual tops and a hoodie.

After that we went to the Marks & Spencer’s next door and bought lunch for the day. I got a sandwich, a peri peri pasta pot and a sparkling blood orange drink and I can’t forget the Percy Pigs! Then it was a 5 hour journey to Hadleigh Park.

When we arrived, it was warm and sunny, different from Scotland. We had a track walk and took some photos and headed to the Holiday Inn, our hotel for the weekend, and used our rollers to spin the travel out of our legs. After a race briefing we were allocated our rooms. I was sharing with Jonte and at 8 pm we went for dinner.

After dinner we received a text asking us to come and get our kit, I was so excited – the kit was light blue and purple and the East’s team was purple and light blue. We had to see if it fitted and thankfully mine did. Some others not so lucky. Jonte and I then just went to sleep as we were quite tired but we didn’t know the others had stayed up. We missed a few laughs but we got the extra 1 hour in bed.

In the morning we both rushed down for breakfast at 6.30 am as it was supposed to be served then but didn’t start till 6.45 am.

We left the hotel at 7.1 5 am, with all the boys still in the van, and set off to Hadleigh Park. When we got there it started to rain but quickly cleared up. After putting up the easy ups we got all our bags and bikes down to the tents and put our numbers on as we weren’t allowed to ride without them.

The skills practice opened at 8.30 am and was very easy. First was a wide slalom, then a skinny and a side hop and then you had to do a wheelie into a box and stop then bunny hop a potato tin. Finally you had to remove your back wheel, hold it above your head, then put it back in and do the course in reverse with the exclusion of the wheelie.

When it came to the skills I got no penalties. My time was 1 minute 23 seconds which I was very happy with as I was 20th out of 64.

After the skills there was a hill climb event that we weren’t allowed to practise and that made it more difficult as it was a technical climb with roots and rocks. My time was 1 minute 23 seconds coincidentally the same as my skills.

My results in the first two events were used to grid me in the final event of the day the Dirt Crit. The Dirt Crit is 13 riders racing around a small lap three times. Ben and I were placed in the C Race and I was gridded first out of thirteen. I finished 11th and Ben finished 12th. We then went into the losers final and in that I came 10th.

That was the last event of the day and we got packed up and went to the hotel. By the time we arrived it was dinner time so we had to have a very quick shower and got changed so everyone was 10 minutes late for dinner.

After dinner about 20 boys all went to Jamie’s room and fooled about. At about 10 o’clock we went to bed with our alarms set for another early start.

In the morning Jonte had to poke my face to wake me up as I slept through the alarm. We went down for breakfast with all our bags packed as we were just going straight home after the days racing.

When we arrived at the race track Jonte, Jamie, Polly and Emily were picked to do the team relay with Charlie, Robbie, Anna and Anna for the East. This meant I had an easy morning cheering them on. Scotland East won and West came 4th.

At 2 o’clock was the XC race which was the big one, an hour-long race on the Olympic track. The girls raced first over 5 laps and boys raced over 6. I only managed 5 laps as Charlie (the European champion) lapped me. I felt I did well in the race coming about 40th. The course was great, I loved the technical drop off’s and the rock gardens. I would love to go back.

At the end of the competition Scotland East won (3rd year in a row!) and West came 6th.

Then there was the dreaded 8 hour journey up the road. Thankfully it was quite late so we slept half of it but we got a well-deserved McDonalds and then got picked up at 1 in the morning.

I loved every minute of it. It was a great experience and so much fun. I would love to go back next year.


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