Team Wideopenmag’s Elite enduro pinners headed to familiar ground for the second round of the 2018 Scottish Enduro Series at Innerleithen.
Chris Hutchens and Christo Gallagher headed to the perennial mountain venue of Innerleithen in the Tweed Valley in glorious sun and dust for the second round of the 2018 Scottish Enduro Series.
Photos by Trev Worsey.
Sun and dust.
Round 2 headed to Innerleithen with riders treated to some of the driest tracks and conditions the hills have seen this year. Five demanding stages would challenge the riders over a near 40km loop. Climbing just over 1600m in the race it pushed fitness and technical skills and made for two awesome days of riding.
I’d almost go as far as saying this was the best five stage loop ever raced at Innerliethen.
Christo and I finished off a pump track session in Edinburgh on Friday before prepping the bikes (unpacking them from the Olargues EWS) and getting ready for more racing. We thought we would try and show a little more of how we approach an enduro practice day together so check out the next video from the SES Series.
Ten steps, not necessarily fundamental steps, to racing an enduro. Christo took a couple of chilled and one not so chilled lie-downs during the day.
First up was the Golfie trails. Often wet, slick and muddy the dry spell left even Water World, which was the first stage, relatively dry. This trail claimed a few people and the local ambulance and A&E were kept busy. Healing vibes to everyone who took a spill on the steep, rocky and challenging stage.
The highlight of riding at ‘The Golfie’ trails had to be bumping into Stokemassive himself. Kyle Beattie, having had a head knock recently is sitting out of racing for a bit. It’s something that’s crossed my mind after having written off 3 helmets in just over 6 months. Kyle will be back soon but in the mean time donned a yellow vest and took over my video.
Two trails down we headed over to the classic Inners side. Tracks here were less technical, only just in comparison, but had heaps of line choice and were a lot longer. The afternoon flashed by as we experimented with lines (check out my video for a few you might have missed!).
We finally got to the last stage after the long effort on stage 4 and subsequent climb to the top. Christo and I mixed up who was leading and played with the trail. At the middle fire road I sat in behind Christo who knows the trails from coaching with Dirt School and followed him down.
Letting him get a corner ahead (not necessarily intentionally) we were finding pace, then boom. He hit the deck! His helmet changed to a bullet lid as his peak detached and he found sanctuary head down and backwards down the trail in one of the well worn in corners. While he took a pretty big knock the Bell helmet took the impact superbly.
Christo would then go onto finish 2nd in Elite sandwiched between Innerleithen locals Lewis Buchannan and Gary Forrest who finished 1st and 3rd respectively. I narrowly missed the podium by 4 seconds. Anyone else find the blown out left on the 3rd left from the top on stage 2? Damn it cost me!
In the womens U22 category it was a storming Ella Conolly who would put time into local Polly Henderson and Mikayla Parton who pushed hard for 2nd and 3rd respectively. The 22-34 category was split my less than half a second over 32 minutes of racing. Janey Kennedy narrowly took the win in front of Kirsty Macphee who had just returned from the Royal Wedding.
Louise Haggarty rounded the top three out. A regular sight on the podium sport and a comfortable win went to Roslynn Newman who put time into Suzy Watson and Catherine Hart in 3rd and 4th place.
One of the bigger categories, Under 19, is super fast and fairly healthier compared to a few years ago. Endruo seems to be cool then! Calum Johnson put over 20 seconds into Shan Sangster who finished 2nd. Conolly who has a very bright future finished up 3rd on the day after a big crash on the final stage.
It can’t go unnoticed. While most have a ‘smooth’ ride around some fairly rough tracks imagine what racing a hard trail is like. For 10 ‘special’ people, as often highlighted at the riders briefing, they have a very challenging weekend. Maybe not all that ‘fun’ or ‘fast’ but it’s great to see so many people racing hardtails. Calum McGee took top spot followed by Alex Cartwright and Angus Roberts.
I was surprised when I checked out the senior, 19-29 results. Scotty Mears won the category and was 8th overall putting almost 1 minute into Lewis Cochran and over a minute into Gregor Nixon. I had expected Scotty to be in with the’ big’ boys.
Onto the biggest category of the event, the 30-39 men. Almost one third of the field is made up with this group. It’s hugely competitive as well but this round Brad Illingworth put in almost 1 minute into his main rival Nick Smar. James Davidson snapped up that final steep .
‘Local’ Darren Scott slipped in front of Meal Mark and Dave Ogden in 3rd. Just under 13 seconds split the top three over 27 minutes of racing.
Methodical Paul French put in a blistering time to win his category in the 50-59 category and continue his series lead having camped out here all week riding and walking the trails. Local Steve Deas used his local advantage to tak e2nd infront of Alasdair Rothe.
The top step of the 60+ category is beginning to get used to seeing Steve Bradley up there. Once again he took another win denying Neil Young who had a consistent weekend to finish 2nd. Bill turner completed the podium.
With rain threating on Saturday and Sunday, the organisers pulled a blinder once again put their application in for perfect riding conditions on Sunday. Cool, dry and calm. I’m expecting the next few rounds to be very similar.