Team Wideopenmag’s Chris Hutchens reports from the 2019 Scottish Enduro Series finale in a wet and wild Fort William.
This season has been one to remember. Racing at DH and XC world cup and EWS level has been amazing and I think that’s rubbed off at a national level as well. Theres been new faces, old faces returning and some great support for the Scottish Enduro Series this year.
Fort William would round things out and ensure it would be a physical one to finish on. Were my predictions on title chasers correct? Check out my event preview here.
Words by Chris Hutchens | Photos by Brodie Hood.
I was right in guessing we wouldn’t be heading up the quad chair this year but I didn’t predict we would have two stages down the Top Chief. A short stage 5 was followed by a monster (in UK terms) 8 minute plus stage. A few committed and knowledgeable riders snuck under 8 minutes. Fair play to them.
Stages 1 and 2 were a mix of green trail centre, the upper-bottom section of the downhill track and some very challenging fresh cut corners. I was pleased to negotiate this on Saturday with fluky precision. This corner was controversial.
Stage 3 was unreal with a physical mix of technical sections, some ruts and a need to pedal. Then stage 4, well, where do we start? This got hammered by the rain and caught a lot of people out. Gradient wasn’t on your side either so it was hard going being able to get down this clean. Enduro needs to test all riding styles and, well, this did.
It’s been a long drawn out season with great venues, loads of incredible riders from Scotland and beyond gracing the trails. For some categories the series titles were sewn up but there were some which could still be battled for. I don’t think anyone, in any of the categories left anything out there. In places they didn’t have a choice.
The weather while mixed on Saturday really improved coming into Sunday. The wind dropped slightly, the showers stayed away and there was even a glimpse of sun. Ben Cathro mainly observed this rare sight but it was there. The heavy rain over night did make stages three and four particularly tricky.
There were a few stand out results to talk about first.
Firstly Jess Stone took another Senior Womens win by 45 seconds and wrapped up the overall title in style. She’s had a dominant season of racing and I wonder if we’ll see her take to the start line at more enduros next year including some BEMBA rounds. Fi Berry took 2nd on the day and in the series as well showing her consistency. Jessie-May Morgan rounded out the podium on the day but it was Elsbeth Greenshields who grabbed third in the series.
Now the stand out ride of the weekend for me had to go to Polly Henderson who not only won the Under 22 girls but also too the Womens fastest time of the day by almost 30 seconds. This wouldn’t secure her the series and it would be Claudia Forbes-Walker who would take the title. Phoebe Gale finished in front of Karra Laing to round out 2nd and 3rd on the day.
One of the largest categories of the weekend was the U19 men. This is pretty exciting for the future of enduro in Scotland and reminds me of the health days of downhill. Downhill rider Jamie Edmondson took the win on the day in front of Josh Noble and Jake Ebdon. The future’s definitely bright and it was Johnson who would secure the series and also be awarded the Derek Laughland Memorial Fund prize for 2020.
This year’s supported rider Fraser Kelly has clearly benefited from the support and secured second in the series. Dougie Thompson was able to walk away with a superb 3rd place in the series. Great racing all year guys.
In Senior males Ben Balfour put in a storming time ahead of usual hardtail rider (and hardtail series winner) Euan Thomson in 2nd and Angus Forbes in 3rd. The overall would be snapped up by Calum Mackie, Angus Hardie second and a chasing Ruairidh McRitchie. This was a tight category all year.
Masters men wouldn’t see the usual podium. Tom Simpson took the win by 13 seconds from Stu Nicholson. Series winner James Davidson lost it on the final stage and had to settle for third on the day. Luck wasn’t on Lewis Cowes side and with a puncture putting him miles back in the results on the day. He would take a well-deserved 2nd in the series ahead of Nick Smart. It was a Borders podium.
It was a charging Roz Newman who made sure she turned up and took the Masters women (36+) win and the series championship title with it. Anna Riddell who’s been a familiar face on the circuit all year grabbed the 2nd place step ahead of Sally Evamy.
Fort William isn’t a place you’d naturally want to take a hardtail but eight strong took on the challenge. While Euan Thomson decided to ride his full suspension to a senior podium he took the series win ahead of Conan Finch who finished fourth on the day and 2nd in the series. Ryan O’Donnell settled for 3rd this weekend and 3rd in the series. 31 riders ended up racing over the series in the hardtail Category. Cool to see so many hardcore riders out there.
The number of racers in veteran’s continues to grow year on year and the level is only getting higher and higher. Mike Ellington would secure the series with a win on the day. The day’s results would emulate the series with Tim Wilcox in 2nd and Darren Scott in 3rd.
It becomes almost a dead cert that local Alastair Maclennan will win Grand Vets at Fort William. He continued this trend but was pressured by Matt Vesey in 2nd and Alasdair (just one of the many ways to spell this name it seems) Rothe in 3rd.
Super Grand Vets saw a dominate performance from Steve Bradley. Neil Young who would say some very poignant words in memory of Derek Laughland at the podiums was definitely riding and racing in Derek’s memory this weekend.
It’s amazing to see his legacy support the younger riders. He’d be truly proud of the superb work that’s going on. Neil went 2nd on the day but won the over series with Callum Mckay 3rd on the day and 2nd in the series. Bill Turner rounded out the series in third.
Last but not least was the Elite class. There was a distinctive West Coast presence amongst most of the riders with only a few from Central or East Scotland. Maybe a slight home advantage for a few of the riders but that’s what makes a series so great. With the series all but tied up for Joe Barnes he took a party lap, a very fast party lap that would be enough to secure his first Scottish series title. Welcome to the club Joe. Liam Moynihan had one of the best rides of his year to secure 2nd ahead of 3rd place Lewis Buchanan.
Liam would also take 2nd in the series for the 2nd time in his career. James Shirley deservedly finished up 3rd in the series this year and also took 4th on the day. For me I would have to settle with 7th on the day. While I was sitting 5th going into the last stage I completely misjudged the pace required in the top half and couldn’t regain time at the bottom. Racing is full gas these days from top to bottom and I wasn’t in the right headspace to push the danger limits at the top.
Well that’s another fantastic season of racing over. I’d like to thank all the team at NoFussEvents for putting on another challenging and rewarding series in 2019. Every event I went to was relaxed and friendly. Highlight had to be the EWS Continental round at Innerliethen. The trails there were incredible and racing was flat out.
Finally thanks to all of the Wideopenmag sponsors this year. I wouldn’t have been in a position to get to so many events, vlog, write and race without this support.
See you at a race in 2020.