WATCH: Dingwall cyclist wins Strathpuffer for second time and becomes British champion
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MARTIN Ross conquered Strathpuffer 2024 to win the title for the second time in his career.
The Dingwall cyclist powered his way around the clock during the 24-hour cycling challenge to come out on top and be crowned champion once again at Contin Forest.
In addition, Ross was also crowned British 24-hour Solo Champion as Strathpuffer held the British Championships for the first time.
Ross (49), who first won the Strathpuffer in 2019, completed 25 laps of the 12.5km course in Ross-shire in a time of 24 hours 18 minutes and two seconds.
Kyle Beattie from Inverness, who won the Strathpuffer in 2020, finished in second place, also completing 25 laps in a time of 24:20:14.
James Lamb completed the podium, finishing in third place, completing 24 laps in a time 24:08:40.
Ross says conditions were favourable during the 24-hour challenge compared to the last time he won it in 2019.
"The conditions were better as 2019 was ice, but the conditions this time were a lot milder and it turned into a mudfest. Then snow showers started after midnight, but it never came to anything.
"I wouldn't say the conditions were better, but it wasn't as cold as it was in 2019."
Ross was in front from the early hours of the race after making a strong start.
But said he was unaware of how well he was doing until the final hours of the competition as he says it was important to stay mentally focussed.
He said: "I don't like knowing where I am in the standings until five hours to go and then I take everything from there, because it can mess with your head.
"But somebody blurted out, you are 15 minutes ahead and I said I don't want to know that. Then you start going harder.
"You like to go out fast, but in a 24-hour race you just get slower and it is a case of hanging on to the end.
"Five laps in, I saw my lap times and I thought I need to reign it in a wee bit here.
"It worked out well, although I fell apart in the last two laps and Kyle was catching up on me, but it worked out in the end, so I am delighted."
He added: "The plan was not to stop as the longer you stop the rot sets in, so I never stopped at all
As well as winning the Strathpuffer title for the second time, Ross also claimed the title of British 24-hour Solo Champion.
It was the first time that Strathpuffer had played host to the British 24-hour Solo Championships and Ross admitted that was a major factor to entering the race again this year.
He said: "I wasn't going to do it this year, but I heard when it was for a British title, I thought I would give it a bash while I am still reasonably fit."
Ross is no stranger to the Strathpuffer and said to have one of the biggest challenges in mountain biking only minutes away from where he lives makes it special to him
He said: "This is my seventh Strathpuffer and it is a great event. The atmosphere and everything about it is a great vibe.
"I have done a few events, but this is a special event, everything about it. It is the toughest mountain bike race in the world and it is on your doorstep so you have to give it a go.