Walkers CC rider Julie Nimmo made her way down the M74 to the Lake District to compete in the whinlatter mtb challenge on Sunday April 21st. The Whinlatter is a mountain bike endurance race consisting of 3 laps of a 12.5 mile course integrating the Altura trail with over 2000ft of climbing per lap.
After blue skies for the event build up, Sunday dawned grey and threatening. By 8am the rain, as promised by the met office arrived, and was to be a feature for the rest of the day. Decisions had to be made quickly at the start line as to what clothing to wear, most riders opting for full-length tights and lightweight waterproofs as the rain showed no sign of easing. As 10.30 approached tension mounted and the race was underway. The Elite riders had a mass start, with the rest of the competitors having a dib start; this was a wise decision on the part of the organisers as this prevented the usual congestion heading onto the first section of single track.
The mandatory start to all mtb races, to which the whinlatter made no exception ,was a long fire road climb up to the top of the forest just short of Lords Seat crossing the moorland before dropping back down the hillside. Julie had picked off a few of her rivals on the first fire road climb and entered the first section of single track midway up the field. The Altura trail was ridden in reverse which practically clings to the hillside; a fall here was not desirable with wet ground testing nerve and skill with visibility reduced in persistent rain. The fun singletrack was over far too quickly as the course soon headed skywards again and for the first time reaches the top of the Altura trail. After negotiating wet rocks the course plummets downhill across the road. A short very steep climb took the riders up to the top of the final decent which deposited them back to the start finish area where an enthusiastic crowd, despite the weather, cheered them on. By the end of lap 1 Julie had made her way up to second position which she held for the rest of the race. With weather showing no sign of easing and riders and marshals starting to feel the full effects of the rain the event safety officer and race director called an early end to proceedings.
Julie finished 2nd female, completing 2 laps in 3hrs 25mins, taking in 24miles and over 4000ft of climbing. It was a very worthwhile trip for her as she came home with a £100 voucher kindly donated by sponsors Cyclewise, the resident Whinlatter bike shop.