The Scottish Enduro Series was born in 2014 at the Nevis Range venue and has since held a round there every year since. Can the venue’s consistency as a round catch up with the Fort William World Cup, which definitely has a strong hold on the World Cup DH circuit? After another hugely successful event I think it could be a contender. With an improved route over last year, removing that controversial stage 1, I think there was a renewed love of the riding along the foot of Aonach Mor.
A real buzz was evident over the weekend. Over 350 pumped up and excited riders enjoying the typical Lochaber weather. Only some rain mid morning on Sunday dampened the trails, which in honesty where probably completely saturated anyway. The mix of trail centre and very technical stages is perfect for pushing rider ability while having a bloody good day out on the bikes. Smiles all round I would say.
With riders moving about in categories, some opting for elite and other moving into the next age category up there was an unsteady feeling around the sharp end of the categories. Would that young gun coming up to Seniors kill it or the new Vet hoping for a chance at the podium topple the riders familiar with the fame and glory in 2016? Only the clock would tell and the final beep as Spook clocks the riders in at the end of the day.
Racing kicked off sharp with the first riders rolling out into glorious Scottish sun!
Elites had a packed field with 22 riders starting on the day. Trek Factory rider Lewis Buchanan was solid all day winning 3 of the 4 stages despite only having one gear selection per stage. His luck at Fort William over the past two years hasn’t been great but every time he’s pulled off a result. Good work from him and it just shows his talent.
Local lads Liam Moynihan and Lachlan Blair pulled a 2nd and 3rd respectively while putting down some incredible times on stage 4. This stage soon became the talking point around most conversations post-race, everyone had his or her tale. A crash, getting lost in the trenches or not making it through the river crossing. There was something for everyone to reflect on. The number of riders asking me how to get down there was testament to the fear of this stage.
It was also the stage that claimed my weekend with a snapped derailleur shortly after the start. The race soon became a running event for me but I clocked a pretty strong 10k time! Team mate Kelan Grant, after a challenging trip from Belfast clocked in to claim 6th on the day. He was after more and is just warming up. Keep an eye out for him this year, the boy’s got some legs on him.
The secret is pigs
Special mention has to go to Mike Clyne, I promised him a mention after his tremendous crash on stage 3 to stage 4 transition. Watch those flat fire roads guys!
The future of enduro is looking strong with big field in the U19 men. There’s some real talent amongst this age group and the number of riders entering is growing. Corey Watson took the top step ahead of Ben Balfour and Gregor Nixon in 2nd and 3rd positions. Apparently the nutritional secret amongst this category is Percy Pigs!
A huge hardtail category this weekend with 8 riders in the men and SES regular Ros Newman making the change to a hardtail for the year. Kevin Ostroznik took the win in the men’s hardtails and Roz killing it to be the 2nd fastest hardtail rider on the day, also winning the female category.
Senior Male has some new riders at the top after last years top riders choose to make the move to Elite. Moray Goodfellow made the first round count with a 1st place ahead of Tom Coles. Cameron Turnbull rode well for 3rd place.
There were some familiar names at the top of the 30-39 category with a strong performance from Neal Mackay ahead of Mark Maciver. These old school DH veterans fought hard with only 4 seconds splitting them. Brad Illingworth scored a solid 3rd less than a second back on Maciver. Amazing racing between these three.
The Vets 40-49 category is a fierce one. These guys want the top spot, especially those moving up from Masters. It was Darren Scott who went fastest ahead of Stephen Hardy and Dave Ogden. This will be a great category to watch this year.
The odds were pretty solid on Alastair Maclennan winning grand vets. His home advantage gave him the win by over 2 minutes. Paul Barrett took 2nd and Basecamp Bike’s top dog Lindsay Carruthers found his form to take 3rd. This is a fast category with amazing racing pedigree amongst the riders. The 60+ catergory is also growing. Steve Bradley winning, 7 minutes ahead of 2nd place Neil Buyers.
Over 15 women took to the hill in the 19-39 category. A flat out Eilidh Wells put in over a minute to 2nd place Janey Kennedy who had a really solid race. Kirstin Moynihan won two stages finishing the day in 3rd. It looks like she had some issues on stage three pushing her down to the lower steps on the podium.
The racing was tough in Fort William with long and physical stages pushing everyone’s ability to the limit. Now before the stoke wears off from Fort William the next rounds just around the corner.
A first for enduro at round 2 as the racing heads to Aberdeenshire and the North East venue of Pitfichie, more famed for it’s downhill the site also provides some amazing enduro riding.
Keep an eye out on Wideopenmag for another event preview in a few weeks.
Chris Hutchens rides for Team Wideopenmag. The team are powered by: