Team Wideopenmag were out in force at the Kinlochleven round of the Scottish Enduro Series, that doubled up with the British National Enduro Series.
Chris Hutchens reports from a fairly disastrous weekend for him, as Christo continues his good from at regional and national level.
Photos by Doug Somerville.
When Kinlochleven appeared on the list of rounds to be included in the British National Enduro
Series I can guarantee there were a few nervous clicks as riders hit enter for the race. This venue
isn’t a regular on the Scottish Enduro Series but for the past few years has hosted a number of races including the EWS Qualifier last year. This venue has some bite.
With the bad news that the Malvern Classic was cancelled due to bad weather and waterlogging I was wondering if Kinlochleven with its Scottish West Coast location would be affected in anyway.
This place is however used to the rain and used to it in copious amounts. The village was in fact built around the sheer abundance of the stuff where the old smelters were located.
The place still utilises the hydro energy potential with a number of schemes visible as you look around the huge mountains that cast shadow upon Kinlochleven for most of the year. Rumours have it that it’s only in recent years the residents here became aware that the sun existed.
It’s safe to say that the tracks here intimidate even the bravest riders. Nerves were rife on Sunday morning across the field I think, not something which every venue does to riders. Not only are the tracks technical but they feel exposed in places due to the open hillside, the high speed and the number of lines which snake their way down the mountains.
Long climbs up give you a vantage point which is hard to beat. This is true mountain biking and couldn’t be as far removed from the usual trail centre races and lowland venues from previous rounds. This is a good thing and ensures there’s a variety of venues on the calendar.
When I saw the course map and stages my first reaction was, ‘that’ll be a nice short lap’ but the
30km and 1200m+ of climbing turned out to be pretty physical and take most of the day to practice.
Not only due to the long climb to stage 1 and 2 but also due to the time on the hill trying to work out where to go. Lines were hard to remember and link up, especially on stages 3 and 4. I think I started to piece things together by the end of the day… just.
Jackets were a safe bet for the weekend with showers on and off over the two days. You thankfully got some warning on when you were about to get soaked. The weather fronts rolled up the loch from Ballachulish and Glencoe into the head of the valley. Just check out some of the video to see how visibility changed as the rain passed over the race venue. It wouldn’t be the Highlands without some rain though.
Race day soon came around after a tremendous day of practice. For me the race lasted 40 seconds before my mech just blew up. I’m not entirely sure what happened but it was a long drive back to Bristol. Frustrating but certainly not worth getting too angry about. Only a few profanities where shouted as I cyclocrossed my way down the hill with a jammed back wheel.
The Elite win would go to Fort William’s finest Joe Barnes with a charging Ross Hancock in second and another local Liam Moynihan in 3rd . Apparently Ross, while not a regular on this sort of trail due to his Southern location quite enjoys this type of riding. It certainly showed. Wideopenmag’s Christo Gallagher would ensure he stayed in the mix of the senior British Series title race placing 4th .
In the ladies field it was topped once again by Jess Stone. She’s been on a roll recently putting in some solid performances. Roslyn Newman went 2nd fastest on the day with Fi Berry taking her steel Cotic to 2nd in Seniors and 3rd overall.
The next Scottish Round is at the end of July in Pitfichie, Aberdeenshire. The Aberdeen Trail
Association have been busy building over the winder so there should be some revamped trails on offer.