Monday, July 2

Blood, Sweat and Tears - Ireland's first ever female takes on the Scottish 6 Day Trial

 6 Day trial. The Highlands Scotland, May 2018.

I decided to compete in the Scottish Six-day Trial in October 2017. My fitness was good but I knew I really had to improve my strength and fitness in order to compete.  I started off in November 2017 with cycling to work I cycled on the motorway for 24 km’s to Work and 24kms home from work. It was very difficult as I had the dark mornings and dark evenings. It was also a very cold winter with a lot of frost, rain and windy days. Once I left the house I knew there was no way of returning as I had to make it to work on time.

I built up a lot of fitness from cycling but I knew my strength needed attention. I joined the gym just after Christmas, starting my day at 6am I lifted weights for my arms back and shoulders I also swam every morning. Apart from fitness and strength I had to practice a lot on my bike to maintain my high level of bike fitness.

I had to learn how to maintain my bike for it to run at its best every day.  I really enjoyed learning how to work on my bike I now understand how the bike runs. The week before we set off for Scotland I had a lot of preparation rebuilding my bike to ensure it would run at its best. I had to organize tyres and spares for the week just in case I had any bike issues. My uncle Stanley kindly lent me his bike to have with me just in case I needed any spare parts. This was a huge help as anything could have happened.

Saturday 5th May 3:33am. We left Kildare to head to Fort William, Scotland. We drove two hours to Larne Co Antrim with a boat crossing of two hours to Cairnryan and a drive of five hours to Fort William.

Sunday 6th May I signed on in the Ben Nevis Hotel and completed technical control.  The Scottish Six Day Trial tradition is that all riders parade through Fort William, which we did at 3pm. We then parked our bikes in Parc Ferme.

Monday 7th May
Day one I started at 8.40 am. I started off in dry conditions. I covered 71 miles with the first two sections starting at Coire Na Cloiche and the last five sections finishing at Lagnaha. I was very excited as this was my first time at the Scottish Six Day Trial I had never been not even to watch the trial. I was buzzing riding off the start ramp to see what sections were ahead of me. The sections were big but they were very rideable. Of course, because it was the first day I was full of beans and giving my very best in every section. Monday was a learning curve for me I was a little slow walking sections which left me very tight on time for getting back to the finish. I arrived at our last time check with a penalty of two minutes.

Tuesday May 8th
Day Two I started at 07:52 this was our early day of the week we started off with getting the Ferry across the loch. The sections were very slippery as there was only 20 riders in front of us.  It was a very wet and cold day. The sections were a lot harder today as it was very difficult to get grip. With massive boulders and plenty of holes in the rivers. Tuesday I managed my time better so I could allow enough time to work on my bike in Parc Ferme.  My air filter, carb and a maintenance check over on my bike needed to be done after two days of solid riding.

Wednesday May 9th, I started at 11.40 this was my late day of the week. It rained from the time we started until the finish. It was the toughest and mentally draining day for me. The rivers were extremely high and some parts of the cross country were impassable. We had to go up a steep mountain which was like a sheet of ice, this was hell I thought  I managed to get to the top, I caught my breath and we headed off again to be met by this massive  firebreak  climb up between the trees so I had to jump a bog and then attack the climb, I got half way up I was physically and mentally drained, it was horrific I felt I had to end it, I was in tears  I have never experienced anything like this before. My Dad had managed to get his bike to the top and came back down to me we had a chat and he gave me a hug and together we got my bike to the top, we had lost a lot of time so we had to push on. Half an hour later we reached the lunch stop covered in mud from head to toe. With 15 sections and 35 miles to go, (this day will never end) we grabbed a burger and drink and headed off again, the water in the rivers was rising so sections were even harder now, I had to make sure I didn't drop my bike in the rivers so I did my best and my dad kept my spirits up, the rain never stopped and I was cold. I was so delighted to see the finish of this day. I had 30 min to spare.

Now I had to change the air filter clean the carb and fit a new rear tyre for the second half of the week.


Thursday 10th May I started a little earlier 10.49 the weather was a little bit nicer we had showers of rain throughout the day. The sun was shining for the Moor crossing which was helpful as it made it easier to see across the saturated mountain. Throughout the week I got stronger and more confident at riding the bigger sections my fitness and strength really helped me.

Friday 11th May I started at 9:59 this was the first day that I started in dry conditions.
With a 28-mile road trip with a fuel stop to the first group of sections where I had a great start to the day. After that I had a short Moor crossing to the next group of sections. The other 60 miles of the day was mainly on the road. The road work is hard on the bike because you have to ensure the bike doesn't over heat.  Then the rain came down heading for the ferry to the finish but it wasn’t too bad as I completed day 5 and was looking forward to one day to go.

Day 6 Saturday 12th May
The shortest day of the week 56 miles 30 sections
But this turned out to be a very tough day.  9.09am I head off to the first group of sections two cleans to start the day, a long Mamore Road  to the famous Pipeline sections and then a fuel stop on to the mountain for the next 35 miles of hard graft that seem to go on and on and on. Then I see the final petrol stop I must be near home, I fill up check over the bike and off to the last 8 sections hoping now that I have no problems. Pushing hard for a good result I finish off with a couple of cleans. Down on to the road back to Fortwilliam for the final section of the week Town Hall Brae and in to Parc Ferme finish.

I have done it, the first Irish female to compete\finish and that's a piece of history!! What an experience.

Thank you to Terrance & Kenny McKee, Audrey& Dermot Byrne, Clice Racing, Superior Express, John Lampkin and his team (Beta UK) for all their help.

To everyone for all their support and encouragement throughout the week and most of all my Dad for being there.

Words: Kate Callaghan

Images Trials Central, Vicky Flood, Trials UK Media, David Mowat, Neil Sturgeon and Brian Gray.

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