The Chiller has seen its fair share of heroic rides over the years. The course is a series of rises and falls with some steady, some technical and others just downright nasty. Throw in some smatterings of heavy snow, driving rain and the occasional bout of high wind and you can see why people with real “character” tend to thrive in this environment. I mean you wouldn’t want to come to Kielder if you’re a fair weather rider would you!
There is a couple from the Borders who sum up what real guts is all about. Lisa and Richie Scott hail from Langholm, the original Muckle Toon where history evolves around Clan Armstrong (notably Neil Armstrong of moon walking fame) and a massive growth in the textile industry over a century ago. It’s the hills of the Southern Uplands where single speed mile munchers Lisa and Richie ploughed up the miles for training whilst soaking in the stunning scenery.
The couple have participated in every Chiller that has taken place, namely 2017, ‘18 and ‘19. The first two are now written into 24 hour racing folklore as, well, horrific mixed with epic. The 2017 weather battered all comers as temperatures plummeted and everything that wasn’t heated in some way ended up freezing on the spot. 2018 looked like being a sloppy rain fest with torrential downpours but then at midnight everything froze and a heavy blanket of snow covered the ground. Only in 2019 did something resembling sensible weather actually come about with borderline summer (still sub zero) temperatures meaning Geordies could get away with short sleeved tops.
For the inaugural Chiller no-one knew quite what to expect. Would the trails stand up? What kind of bike was best to deal with those oh so nasty rock gardens? Should we make cheese sandwiches or tuna? Some decisions are crucial. It turned out the weather would dominate proceedings but with veterans like Richard Rothwell and Naomi Freireich that wasn’t going to put them off.
Richie and Lisa both lined up in the solo categories. Richie on a geared bike and Lisa on her silky smooth and stylish Singular Cycles steel framed rig. Given the mighty high standards of the people taking part it was a real feather in the cap for Richie to clock in 5th after a full day and night of riding. Lisa came top of female solo single speed riders and managed to keep her wrists intact after such a battering on the fully rigid monster.
In the rain of 2018 Richie managed to get injured and slowed down amid the pain but Lisa pulled a bit of blinder. Showing the very definition of determination it all came down to a final lap battle between herself and the strong Sam Redgate. With rain lashing down and exhaustion having emptied the tanks of both ladies it came down to one final heroic effort. The entire crew at Team JMC had to cajole, encourage and pretty much bride Lisa to get back on her bike and get out there. After a torturous last 7 miles she arrived back through transition and took the title by the smallest of margins. In the end she got overall winner, V40 and female single speed. Not to mention an amazing sleep when she got home.
The conditions of 2019 were by the best we’ve ever had and the field was strong. Lisa unfortunately had to work and missed it but she told Richie that he had to go and keep the Scott name in the Chiller roster. It’s not known whether Richie was given any choice in the matter. Ex pro rider Liam Glen was on a single speed and within 10 hours had performed the biking equivalent of the Blitzkrieg and pulverized other solo riders such as Nigel Smith, Tom Hodgkinson and Chris Rudd. Richie was left trailing in his wake. Liam then blew up and withdrew to the comfort of a warm bed as the battle then commenced. Richie on his single speed then doggedly churned his one cog onwards through the night to clinch top single speed by the end of play. Never had a title been so deserved.
There have been some great rides over the years and these two have some fantastic stories to tell at how they battled it out to get the prizes. So when you’re knackered and think about giving up then just remember that a bit of fight and fortitude can get you over the line. Lisa and Richie also run the appropriately named Steely Eyed clothing company.
The 2020 edition of the The Chiller was cancelled due to high weather but fingers crossed goes ahead on October once this coronavirus business it out the way.