Team Wideopenmag’s Chris Hutchens rounds up all the action from the second round of the 2017 Scottish Enduro Series.
Pitfichie played host to round 2 of this year’s Scottish Enduro Series and offered a massive contrast to the season opener in Fort William. Dry, dusty trails far removed the damp affair out west.
When No Fuss Events announced the POC Scottish Enduro Series venues there was probably a few confused individuals. Firstly thinking, ‘I’ve never heard of Pitfichie’; secondly ‘Where is Pitfichie?’ and probably most of all, ’Are there actually any good trails in the North East of Scotland?’
To answer those questions for those who were unfortunate enough not to be there and wondering. Pitichie is a forest near a small hamlet called Moneymusk in Aberdeenshire, about 30 minutes from Aberdeen City. The rider’s reaction to the trails definitely answered the final question.
After a cold and wet round 1 in Fort William (which you can recap here) there was a colossal and polar opposite shift in conditions for round 2. Migrating from some foreign lands the trails were positively dry and thick with dust. This foreign matter was welcomed with open arms but rumours are that it probably won’t remain in the area for too much longer. Thankfully the 350 riders in attendance made the most of it.
Having been involved with helping bring the race to the area and engaging with No Fuss Events in the middle of 2016 it was a real joy to see the stoke levels at mach 10 all weekend. It was superb to see the Forestry Commission support the event, some new trail development, although minor, and work with the North East Trail Centre Organisation (NETCO) and No Fuss Events on making the event a success. Personally I’m hugely excited to see how mountain biking can grow in the region.
The heather strewn hillsides provided the perfect stage for riders to drop into the six stages. I definitely sensed there was a buzz around the trails at Pitfichie, which are a great mix of rocky, technical and relatively fast trails. The photos only just do it justice and following the race I think there will be an increase of people making the trip North to ride in Aberdeenshire. There’s plenty of other spots around as well for you to get your granite fix!
Racing was tight in Elites with Lewis Buchanan making it two out of two ahead of Ben Cathro and myself. There’s some seriously fast riders in Scotland just now with 21 Elites in attendance and even an appearance from Ajay Jones from South Wales.
The future of mountain biking looks promising with the under 19’s being demolished by Corey Watson who won every stage. The other podium spots were hard fought with tight racing but it was Ben Balfour and Gregor Nixon taking 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Bravely taking on the rocky course was a strong hardtail entry of 10 riders but ultimately it was Ian Churchill who snuck the win from Grzegorz Stankiewicz in 2nd place and Sean Robertson in 3rd.
A huge seniors category of almost 70 riders was won by Tom Coles with Ross Johnston and Kris Gemmell taking the other podium spots.
With seniors being so large it was the Masters (30-39 year olds) that stole the show with almost 100 riders battling for the top step. It was Brad Illingworth who put over twenty seconds into 2nd place rider Petr Sigut and Martin Zietsman.
NETCO was hugely represented in Masters with Chairman Martin Byers taking first, second went to Dave Ogden again donning the distinctive NETCO jersey and Jonny Stott rounded the podium off.
A legend of DH returns to enduro this year. Those who were in the mountain biking circles 10 years ago will know Paul French and it’s good to see his analytical persona back on the trails. He takes the win ahead of long supporting SES rider and Basecamp bikes owner Lindsay Carruthers. Pete Hoggan rounds off the podium in 3rd closely behind 2nd and just in front of 4th place Steve Deas. It looks like there will be some good racing amongst these guys this year.
A determined Derek Laughland took all six stages to win the grand vets in from of Steve Bradley and Neil Buyers in 2nd and 3rd respectively.
There’s a growing number of women racing and Pitfichie seemed to be well received by most of the female riders. In the under 19’s Louise Ferguson convincingly won ahead of Mikayla Parton who took only one stage away from Louise, the Devils Staircase. Niamh Doherty, in 3rd, definitely has a promising future within mountain biking having only raced a few enduros to date.
A real battle is developing in the women category with Janey Kennedy putting on an amazing display all day taking 4 stages and the win ahead of a flying Eilidh Wells. Kirstin Moynihan took another podium spot in 3rd. No Fiona Beattie at this race but I’m sure she’ll be back to defend her series title from last year.
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