A MOUNTAIN biker who overcame a confidence knock following a bad accident has finished in the top three of the National Scottish Cross Country Series for the year.
Dave Thornton, from Newton Stewart, has competed against some of the country’s best biking stars in his quest to reach the top, but just three years ago he almost gave up the sport entirely.
Dave, 25, began cycling when he lived in Buckingham as a means of transport to work. There were no cycle tracks outwith his town for him to cut his teeth on, so it was only when he moved back to Newton Stewart that he discovered the blue trail, part of Kirroughtree Forest’s 7Stanes bike course, and became hooked.
He said: “I did the trail a few times a week and I was really getting into it at this point. The first time I rode the red trail I could hardly walk, but I was grinning from ear to ear and felt dead proud of myself.”
Dave managed to get a job at Kirroughtree’s cycle shop, The Breakpad, and he soon joined the local mountain bike club the Galloway Hillbillies. “I had made a lot of friends by this point and was getting faster all the time,” he said.
But then in October 2009, Dave came off his bike in a bad crash at the 7Stanes course at Mabie Forest. He broke his collar bone, wrist and some teeth.
He said: “I was off the bike for 12 weeks and I nearly gave up the hobby. It took a while to regain my confidence on the bike.”
But, in 2010, Dave competed in his first race, which was a relay endurance race – the “10 at Kirroughtree” – coming in fourth out of eight teams.
He went on: “Then in 2011, I did my first big endurance race – the Kielder 100, a 100-mile off-road race. I came 117th out of 650 starters. Only 176 finished. My time was 12h 27m. It was by far the hardest thing I had ever done.”
On his Trek Elite 9.7 bike weighing 22lbs and with a cost of about £3500, Dave has this year participated in all the rounds of the Scottish cross country series with venues all over Scotland, and the first round at Kirroughtree. He came third overall in the sports category.
Dave said: “Next year I am planning on moving up to the Expert category, which will mean a lot more training.
“I am also planning on competing in some cyclocross races, which starts when the cross country ends. Cyclocross bikes are basically road bikes with knobbly tyres, and the race courses are usually on grass at local parks.”
Early training has begun for Dave, who cycles to work five times a week. He says: “It’s only 2.5 miles but it keeps my legs active. I will go for two long rides a week on my days off, or I might race and I will go on my turbo trainer, an exercise bike, two night nights a week if it is raining.”
Dave’s Tuesday night rides with the Galloway Hillbillies also keep him active and he’s now looking ahead at what other challenges may tempt him.