Race Report: POC Scottish Enduro Series Round 2, Fort William

Whilst many riders would head to Sheffield for the #LastOrders Steel City Downhill, Team Wideopenmag rider Chris Hutchens and web editor Pete Scullion headed north for the second round of the 2016 POC Scottish Enduro Series in Fort William.

After a challenging, wet and wild race in Dunkeld in the middle of March, many were wondering how No Fuss Events would use the trails of Leanachan Forest for the second round of the Scottish Enduro Series. As it turned out, the Fort William round, for the most part, would be a stark contrast to the opening round, making use of the numerous all-weather trails on the hill. Variety is what you need in a series though, and this round certainly had it.

From short, sharp sprints to rut slalom to a full 8 minute stage off the back of a hike-a-bike and short sections of the World Cup track, this race had almost every kind of feather in its cap.

Join Pete and Dirt School‘s Rab Wardell as they navigate stage 2.

Here’s Team Wideopenmag rider Chris Hutchens’ version of events:

This weekend’s Scottish Enduro Series round at Fort William fielded the who’s who of Scottish Enduro. These events pull in the top riders in the country and are the perfect training ground for the World stage. Riders are guaranteed a physical and demanding weekend and Round 2 of the series was no different. The stages were trail centre biased and ranged from a short 2 minutes stage to the mammoth 8 minute stage 5 to finish all the riders off and pull every last reserve of energy from you. Stage 4 was the only full single track downhill stage without any hard pack or quarry dust in sight and who couldn’t love the top of stage 2 which took in a section of the World Cup downhill.POC Scottish Enduro Series Round 2 Fort William Sick Skills Basecamp Bikes Findra Apparel Joe Barnes Ben cathro Chris Hutchens Rab Wardell Dirt School

The warmer Saturday temperatures left us behind and the wind arrived early on Sunday, steadily rising throughout the day. Riders headed off for what’s always a well-run and relaxed event for a 27km loop.

Saturday definitely had tired me out with the addition of a hike a bike to take you to stage 5, this push proved harder than I had thought. I think this was the case for a lot of riders, and with an entry of over 350 riders I think there were some tired legs out on the trail come Sunday.

My race didn’t go how I intended losing flow and momentum and nursing a sore knee during Sunday. The physical nature of the stages really pushed your fitness and any speed you could carry only helped maintain energy reserves throughout the stage and day. Joe Barnes clearly has this place dialled and his local knowledge and sheer bike talent took him to a convincing win and two stage wins.POC Scottish Enduro Series Round 2 Fort William Sick Skills Basecamp Bikes Findra Apparel Joe Barnes Ben cathro Chris Hutchens Rab Wardell Dirt School

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The result of the weekend had to go to Basecamp Bikes Kyle Beattie taking his first senior win. Stokagegram was definitely stoked with the win, slightly speechless for once as well! Kyle got the job done and put almost a minute in to second place rider Calum Ross.

With the level of riders in attendance it was a well-fought weekend of racing. Lewis Buchanan’s winter training is showing taking the first two stages by a couple of seconds ahead of Joe Barnes. The downhill pedigree must have played a part in stage 2 with riders talking about the famous stump gap in the lower woods. Sam Flockhart put in his best stage result here with a 2nd place in front of Joe Barnes. I had to settle with a couple of 7th place finished to start the day off struggling to find that little bit extra.

The hardest stage of the day in my opinion took riders down the Red Route with over 6 minutes of pedaling, flat corners and a lot of quarry dust! Joe Barnes cleaned up on this stage.POC Scottish Enduro Series Round 2 Fort William Sick Skills Basecamp Bikes Findra Apparel Joe Barnes Ben cathro Chris Hutchens Rab Wardell Dirt School

Finally some mud and ruts and for me a slightly more respectable 5th on this stage. Still a bit off where I wanted to be but racing can have it’s days. It was Joe Barnes’ day again. The locals, who starred in A Slice of British Pie know the gullies here well.

Onto stage 5 and a long trek towards the snow line. As you approached the start the noticeable aspect here was the inability to hold your bike. The wind grabbed it with both hands and was ripping it from your grip as you hiked up the steep open hillside to join the Red Route. As one rider described it ‘ like having an elastic band on your back’. My run from the top was a combination of off trail excursions, some bog bashing and some running. The wind stopping you dead at points and taking you off on some interesting lines. This was a hard start to the run. A few riders getting blown off the board walks in an attempt to make it down alive.

POC Scottish Enduro Series Round 2 Fort William Sick Skills Basecamp Bikes Findra Apparel Joe Barnes Ben cathro Chris Hutchens Rab Wardell Dirt School

The stage win went to Ben Cathro, who may have benefited from lighter winds in the morning but is undoubtedly built for this fast rough stage. Liam Moynihan who finished 3rd overall on the day was only a fraction behind Cathro securing 2nd on the stage. The term ‘shocker’ could only describe my final stage, almost 30 seconds back on the fastest time.

Awesome work from No Fuss Events again for putting on an incredible event. Excited for the next round and get your entries in soon as they’re in hot demand.

For full results, head here.


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