Snow, ice, blue skies - and darkness - make for the perfect Puffer at Strath
AN annual 24-hour endurance mountain bike race – which was celebrating its 10th anniversary - attracted its biggest ever entry in “perfect” wintry conditions.
The Strathpuffer race, which takes place over a seven-mile circuit on the forestry roads of Torrachilty, near Contin, tests the skills of mountain bikers from all over country and beyond every since the inaugural race in 2005.
Event organiser, Steve MacDonald, of Square Wheels Cycles, Strathpeffer, told the Ross-shire Journal: “It went amazingly well. We ended up really lucky with the weather. It did everything through the week but by the time of the race the conditions turned into nice hard packed snow with a bit of ice and blue skies. It was perfect conditions for this kind of race. People like a challenge. I think the last couple of years they felt a bit cheated because it was so nice and mild. But this time it was great.”
Mr MacDonald revealed there was a record entry of 800 – the biggest ever.
He said: “Most were mainly British, with lots of locals, but there was a smattering of people from Europe.”
One of the entrants was the TV presenter, Guy Martin, who finished as runner-up in the solo race.
The winner was Keith Forsyth, of i-cycles, from Central Scotland, who completed 28 laps in 23 hours, 49 minutes.
“Because of the ice and snow no records were broken,” said Mr MacDonald. “We also changed the course and made it a wee bit more technical – that slowed them down.
“But the whole thing was a big success, we are really pleased, we got lots of good feedback.”
On the longevity of the race, he added: “We’ve always said we would only do ten years, but I don’t know if we would be allowed to stop.”
The big turn out also had a major impact on local business, with B&Bs and hotels in the area kept busy.
In the pairs category, winners were Team JMC/MSteel Cycles with 34 laps in 24 hours, 18.43 minutes, while the Quad winners were, Mukyriderz – Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique
with 36 laps in 24 hours,16.48 minutes.
The new team of 10 category was won by Dingwall Academy pupils with 27 laps in 24 hours, 8.52 minutes, beating a team of teachers, Dingwall Academy Staffpuffers into seventh place.