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This article was published on November 1st, 2019
Wow! It’s been hectic few weeks, the Scottish Six Day Trial (SSDT) is over and it was one of my biggest achievements to date. Here’s how my event went.
The Scottish Six Day is based in Fort William in Scotland and I decided in 2018 that I would enter and if my entry was accepted I would have some serious hard work to do in preparation.
After I submitted my entry last year, New Year’s Eve came around fast and ‘ping’ my email inbox had a message from the SSDT: “your SSDT entry has been accepted!”
I was excited and daunted at the same time but I thought “I’ve got to do this now” and it’s probably best I told my parents, given I didn’t want to tell them I’d entered until after I’d been accepted.
The main thing was they were extremely supportive and said it’s got to be a full team effort.
The hard work and preparation began straight after the new year.
January 2019 meant a fresh start and new goals but our efforts never stop through winter, my team and I live by the saying “what we put in through winter shows in summer”.
I felt that I really upped my game at the start of the year and my personal trainer Hollie started to push me harder and help me through the tough days.
I feel that Hollie’s helped put my head in the best position to focus more and get the best out of myself.
Twice a week I trained as much as possible off the bike then, any other time I had I was on the bike getting ready for the ride of my life.
I took the advice from fellow riders in my preparation and training for the event. I’ve been told that to finish the Scotland Six Day trial, you need to be bike-fit and the only way that is possible is to be on the bike every chance you get.
I found it hard to train for riding on the bike because we live around very grippy rock areas, however, when I’d be riding in Scotland, the rocks are bigger and slippy, most of which are in streams or river beds.
I think overall, I’d tried my best during my training period and that’s the main thing.
With the bike ready, my team ready and myself as ready as I’d ever be, we hit the road up to Scotland and we arrived in what seemed like a lucky week of weather as it was sunny.
From events I’ve taken part in in the past, I’ve experienced just how big a role the weather can play, particularly when you’re finishing an event in Scotland, the rivers and moors can take a real toll on both the bike and rider.
The Scottish Six Day Trial is six days of constant riding. I’d have to cover around 100 miles a day over moors, rivers and roads. If there’s an issue with the bike, the rider has to fix it themselves, so it’s very hard to finish the trial if the weather is bad and bike problems occur.
Each day you have a set amount of hours to complete the day, if you’re late, you get penalised heavily, so it’s another thing to think about on a long tiresome day of riding. Also, if you check into your lunch stop early (where you only get a 15 minute break), you get penalised.
The first day was just a taster of what was to come. I enjoyed it, but I was worried I wasn’t keeping on time enough and if I had an issue then I was worried about how I would cope on my own having to fix the bike and stay on time.
I panicked a lot on the first day, but one thing I was really pleased about was that my fitness on and off the bike had improved as a result of my hard work before the event. I went swimming, running, cycling and gym as much as I could every week, which paid off once the event had started.
I got to the first group of sections and the people around me kept saying “don’t hang around, keep moving”.
Finally my first day was done. I’d managed to stay on time, and I had no issues with the bike, but my brain felt a little frazzled from over-thinking throughout the day.Monday route day 1
Total miles – 71.
On day 2 we had around 16 miles on the road to start. It was a cold and frosty morning which I wasn’t prepared for, given it was May!
The day started off well. The sections were comfortable initially, however, we then moved onto a wet area on the moor and this is where I thought my day would soon be over.
I got stuck in a very deep bog, my bike sank and so did I. I sank until I was waist-deep in the bog. Luckily my fellow riders behind me stopped and pulled my bike out first, then hauled me out too.
I brushed myself off and luckily my bike was OK.
We had sunshine throughout the rest of the day and it felt like a more comfortable day of riding.
Day 2 was a long day, we had to cover around 107 miles and we started the day at 8.00am to finish the day around 5.30pm.
I had a good ride on some of the sections, but I feel it could have been better. So many areas around Fort William, Ben Nevis, Loch Linnie were difficult, with each area riding differently and it was quite difficult to find my feet.
I did feel a little lost at times but then other times I had some brilliant moments which kept me going. With day 2 done I was feeling pretty tired but ready for day three knowing that it was the halfway mark.
Tuesday Route day 2
Total – 107 miles
On day 3 we had a lot of moor riding to do with very little rest. We had to push on all day to stay on time and I was lucky I had no bike problems, which couldn’t be said for some of the other riders who found themselves running out of fuel.
I felt like day 3 was a better day, but the sun became hot and many riders were feeling it with the tough terrain and hard riding.
For those who aren’t aware of the Scottish Six Day Trial it’s worth noting that it isn’t all just riding when you get to a particular section, you walk the section with your backpack on, which is heavy. You’ll then have to walk back down the route to then ride the section and you’ll have to do this multiple times per day.
We finished day 3 on a good note because I had some strong rides throughout the day, but by the end of Wednesday, I really started to feel it after another day riding 103 miles.
Total 103 miles
Day 4 felt like nothing but a struggle to get moving in the morning. It was a frosty morning and the sun didn’t want to shine at all.
As we got going, the day turned into a wet and drizzle-filled challenge but luckily it warmed up a little after a while.
I felt a little low in motivation because I was so tired, but once I started to find a rhythm in my riding it started to go a little bit better.
The moor crossing was very long and tiring and it’s still a bit of a blur as I think back to it now.
I was lucky enough to have great support throughout the day however, with my parents, Ollie and his parents all out to support me, which was a big help.
The experience, views and moments of panic make The Scottish Six Day Trial a truly special event because anything can happen with either the rider or the bike.
We ended the day on a high where I cleaned the last two hard sections of the day to then catch the ferry back across to the mainland to park and prepare for the next day.
Thursday route, day 4
On day 5 we had a later start, heading out at around lunchtime.
I enjoyed most of the day riding with a group of very experienced riders, two of which are famous brothers in the trials scene, and they were a huge help to me, talking me through sections, being there on big steps and giving me plenty of encouragement I needed.
We had some long boggy moors to cross and I was nervous about getting stuck in a bog, wasting my energy and then I realised I had started running out of time.
I mostly enjoyed Thursday even though it was a wet drizzly day and by the end of the day we came into the park ferme I was wet, cold but ultimately happy with how the day had gone.
I’d also like to say thank you to Dan and Ben Hemingway for what was an enjoyable day riding with them.
Friday morning soon came around but from what I remember I felt pretty sore, bruised and extremely tired hoping that I would find a second wind because I really needed it.
I kept being told “today you are going up and across some very steep mountain hillsides and you need to stay high on the sheep trials. If you drop down you will struggle to get back up and it’s important that you stay high.”
The weather forecast was pretty mixed as well, with rain, snow, hail, heavy rain, drizzle, and then clear blue sky with bright sunshine in between.
The whole day was a bit crazy and I struggled with how much riding kit I had to wear because I hate wearing too much but I don’t enjoy being cold either!
There were quite a few strange sections on the Friday and I struggled in the hills on the hard, sharp and slippery rocks.
I think throughout the week I wasn’t sure how the observers worked, it was meant to be a non-stop rule which meant you weren’t allowed to stop in the sections, but I had to stop a couple of times and wasn’t sure if I’d been received penalties for doing so.
We had many double sub-sections throughout the final day where you ride straight into the second section without stopping.
I had a couple of brilliant rides, which a lot of people sat watching and they cheered me on which kept me going.
The day ended well and I still hadn’t had any bike issues which gave me a real boost going into the last day.
Saturday morning arrived, and my body was really feeling the effects of the week. There wasn’t a bone in my body that didn’t hurt but I just needed to get on with the day.
I enjoyed the last day for the most part, but everyone reminded me to not underestimate the last day. They were right, the last day was a hard day, which was draining both mentally and physically.
The sun was shining and I started to get emotional throughout the day due to tiredness, pain and just generally being overwhelmed by the week.
The effort it takes to do an event like this made me realise I have got to a level in the sport where I will never be the best female, but to finish this kind of event is incredible.
Everyone in the afternoon was extremely supportive and I just had to keep pushing. The warm sun started to take it out of me a little more than normal because I was already exhausted.
I kept thinking to myself throughout the afternoon ride that if I finish this today I will be so happy to feel such a sense of achievement.
I also didn’t want to let my sponsors down and I couldn’t have done this event without their support and the support of my family. It’s a huge undertaking and commitment from everyone because there’s no room for mistakes in the event.
Also, thank you to Vertigo Motors UK for all the support during the week and for the help from their factory in Spain. Michelin tyres also supplied me with a week’s supply of tyres. Sort Oil UK kept me stocked up with the best oils for my bike and thank you to Swain’s Centre Buxton, I couldn’t have done this event without their help, because I needed a road license to take part in Scottish Six Day Trial.
Finally thanks to Buxton Osteopath Clinic for the before and after treatment. There’s so many more to mention and hand on my heart a big thank you.
When I arrived at the town hall in Fort William I soon became emotional because I’d just achieved a dream of mine and finished the Scottish Six Day Trial.
When we arrived back into the paddock the champagne was flowing and we had a fantastic evening celebrating this amazing achievement.
A big thank you to my fans, sponsors and family and friends for their support and I can’t wait to take on my next event soon.