Race Report : Scottish Enduro Series Finale | Round 6 | Dunkeld.

The 2017 Scottish Enduro Series wrapped up for the year and crowned its series champions in Big Tree Country, the classic venue of Dunkeld.

Photos by Trev Worsey.

Team Wideopenmag’s Chris Hutchens closed of 2017 with a final trip up to the motherland for the Scottish Enduro Series grand finale.

October is certainly one of the most stunning times of the year. Leaves are changing and the colours, vibrant and enchanting, brighten up what can often be a cold and wet season. The tranquil town of Dunkeld is undoubtedly one of Scotland’s treasures.

Its compact village has a certain romance about it. This weekend however for those couples looking for a quiet and serene weekend away in the Perthshire town they were probably surprised to see well over 300 riders take over the area.

With accommodation fully booked out, the cafés overflowing and a smell of fish and chips all weekend it’s clear the town gains a huge economic boost. Riders are also spoiled by rugged, rutted and almost terrifying terrain.

Four years since the first ever Scottish Enduro Series concluded in Kinlochleven in 2014 there’s no signs of it slowing down. The interest in the sport is increasing, the level of riding across all the categories is improving and the smiles on riders faces is certainly not diminishing.

With the potential for the tail end of the latest American Hurricane to hit the UK there was worry it could be a very wet and windy weekend to conclude the season for most people. Frazer must have had words and the weather was unexpectedly perfect. Sun appeared and kept riders’ stoke to Kyle Beattie levels during the afternoon as most pushed through the calve burning pain attained from the challenging climb/push to the top of the three trails on the Newtyle Hill side.

The first three stages were held within the classic downhill side of the valley above The Hermitage car park. These were far flatter tracks but rockier, rootier and definitely more challenging.

Practice was a major highlight of my weekend. It was awesome to ride with such a rad group and especially after a quick tune up of my Nukeproof 275C at Flotec Suspension in the town. Nothing beats riding with mates and it made the journey from Bristol manageable.

This race would decide the series results and it was all up for grabs across most of the categories. It was a tight battle in the Elite men’s category behind series winner Lewis Buchanan who unfortunately decided to watch from the sidelines and remain healthy going into the winter.

The consequences at Dunkeld are high with very technical terrain to race. Sitting in 2nd going into the weekend was Gary Forrest but the race was on for 3rd between Christo Gallagher, Ben Cathro and myself. With Lewis not racing, Gary spending the weekend on his stag do in the Borders there was a real battle developing and definite potential for the table to be unsettled. W

Would it be Gary who would miss a spot on the series podium due to his absence?

Cathro would go onto win the race, capitalising on the steep and technical terrain and unleashing his incredible descending skills. This would also change things in the overall standings.

Second was a flying Christo Gallagher who has found form and confidence recently. Just behind in 3rd was Dudes of Hazzard rider Fergus Lamb and I settled with 4th on the day. The tracks had the better of me managing to write off my Horizon Pedals meaning a change to flats for most of the stages. Massive thanks to Mike Clyne for the lend of these. It was a lot of fun!

The results would mean Lewis would claim the Scottish title and taking it from myself after winning in 2016. Behind him was Cathro and with points tight Christo snuck in front of Gary to proudly take 3rd in the series. The racing was fierce all year. Nice one guys.

In the Senior female category there was a relatively new face at the top of the race and the series. Nikki Moore claimed victory on the day and over the year in front of Eilidh Wells and Nicola Fell. Times were tight on the day between Nicki and Nicola with only 13 seconds over 19 minutes of racing separating the pair.

There was a show down going on in Masters men. A long term feud returned between Stu Thomson and Alan Blyth. The pair have been jostling since they were teenagers racing for The Clan. It would be Thomson however that would take nearly 8 seconds from Blyth. Brad Illingworth wrapped things up in 3rd and won the series overall. Big new in was that Rab ‘Backflip’ Wardell and ex-Scottish XC whippet beat Thomson on two stages, a real blow to the ex-Scottish downhill champion.

Competition arrived for Corey Watson at this round with Jamie Edmondson putting in almost ten seconds over the day to take the win in front of Series winner Corey. Sam Conolly took the final step on the podium on race day and also settled for 3rd in the series behind Gregor Nixon in 2nd. Corey took the full 2000 points winning four out of the five rounds he attended. The lad’s got a future in racing that’s for sure.

Moving on to Junior Women and again there’s increasing depth in this category. Five flying girls started the race but it would be Louise Ferguson who would take the win by two and a half minutes in front of Mikayla Parton and Niamh Doherty. This would be how the series standings would pan out as well.

Another legend returned and this time it would be Crawford Carrick-Anderson (CCA) who would stamp his authority by taking the win in front of series winner David Ogden. EWS regular Darren Scott would roll into third within a few seconds of Ogden. Darren Scott would claim 2nd in the series in front of Martin Byers of NETCO.

Vet Women and Julia Ferguson would clean up winning the series but settling for 2nd on the day behind Liz Gilmour. Margaret Weir having won the previous round would settle for 3rd and for 3rd in the series.

Onto Grand Vets and the precision man Paul French took maximum points for the series but didn’t finish the final round. Paul Barrett would capitalise on thiswinning the race and coming in 2nd in the series. The flying Lindsay Carruthers of Base Camp Bikes would take 2nd on the day and a well deserved 3rd in the series.

…Finally but certainly not least was Super Grand Vets.

Derek Laughland dominated this category during the year. His riding improved year-on-year.

He unfortunately wouldn’t make the start line on Sunday. It is with great sadness that we lost a stalwart of the Scottish mountain bike scene with the passing of Derek Laughland.

A true champion both on the track and off, you will be sorely missed by all, Derek. Our thoughts are with your family.

Full results from the final round of the 2017 Scottish Enduro Series can be found here, while series standings can be found here.