POC Scottish Enduro series Race Report and PicTures
No lifts for the racers, pedal power only!
A full house of racers this weekend.
Spread across five stages, there was a mix of fresh and familiar faces at an excited and busy sign on come Saturday morning. The weather looked changeable all weekend with sections of trails particularly the bottom of Stage three (Blue Crane / Ridge Run) and the deep ruts of Stage four (Alt a'Mhullin) looking tricky even before adding in extra moisture and the passing of over six hundred
The competitors would take in a loop around the thirty km mark but with stages that would revealwho'd been putting in the work both technically and physically over the winter – The Nevis Rangegondola hanging tantalizingly overhead and out of reach for those who's legs may feel a little fragile after an inactive winter!
Angus Hardie, checking his dads work!
Series regulars Eilidh Wells, Kirstin Moynihan, Janey Kennedy and Fiona Beattie looked set to pick up from where they left off battling last season, it would be difficult to call the podium positions! Whilst in the men Trek's new signing Lewis Buchanan would look to get his season off to winning ways against a strong field, including reigning champ Chris Hutchens, Sam Flockhart, Gary Forrest, Ben Cathro and local 'baeys' Liam Moynihan and Lachlan Blair. The stakes were high with a risky 50p three way bet between Cathro, Blair and Moynihan... Who would come out on top?!
Kelan Grant made the trip over from Ireland and mixed it with the top boys, rounding off the weekend in 6th.
There was plenty of line choice for racers to get their teeth stuck into. Blue Crane made a welcome return after an absence from last year's race, junior men's victor Corey Watson sending it.
Things were sticky in places...
...and sloppy in others!
Waking up on Sunday morning the ground had been topped up of puddles with the weather forecast saying another band of rain was working its way in for noon, perfect time to add a little extra zest for the racers. After a timing mishap on the opening stage the first competitive stage would be the World Champs XC, the longest stage of the day at over six minutes. Times were tight throughout the field on most stages, however, the steep and now very slick ruts of the fourth stage over at Alt a'Mhullin were where racers could find or lose substantial chunks of time to their competitors. That was where the victors in the both the men and women stretched their advantages, eventual winners Lewis Buchanan sneaking two seconds and Eilidh Wells a whopping half minute advantage over her nearest competitor.
Liam Moynihan was a whisker away from the win, super close after four stages!
Eilidh Wells looked smooth and in control all weekend and the results sheet backed that up.
Lachlan Blair isn't one to shy away when things get rough, taking the direct route through the rocks.
Both junior men and women victors Corey Watson and Elena Melton nearly took a clean sweep of stages, only missing the top spot on one stage. Corey was followed by Ben Balfour and Gregor Nixon who were separated by a meagre four seconds at the line. Elena consistently put time into her competitors, ending up with a winning margin just over a minute over local shredder Mikayla
Parton and Niamh Doherty. There were some great rides throughout the field, credible mentions go to Roz Newman for holding her own against the guys in the hardtail category and for Nukeproo racer Kelan Grant who made the trip over the Irish sea to finish sixth.
Despite a slightly less catastrophic mechanical as last year, Lewis Buchanan took the top spot.
The last stage of the today took a quick blast down the 4X before diving into the finish.
Lewis Buchanan was followed home, very, very closely by Liam Moynihan just four seconds back (also taking the 50p bet out of Blair and Cathro) in behind him was Lachlan Blair in third with Gary Forrest and Ben Cathro both in touching distance of the podium. Taking back to back Fort William victories was Eilidh Wells a minute ahead of Janey Kennedy and Kirstin Moynihan, with a few other waiting in the wings it will be very interesting to watch how this battle develops throughout the season!
Both bikes and bodies were looking worse for wear!
Goggles came in handy, it is Scotland after all.
Top 3 Women: 1) Eilidh Wells 2) Janey Kennedy 3) Kirstin Moynihan
Top 3 Men: 1) Lewis Buchanan 2) Liam Moynihan 3) Lachlan Blair
From a now classic SES venue to an all new location, next up is Pitfichie in a months time where the series heads east to fresh territory of open hill tops, punchy pedals, and technical downhill sections. There's nothing quite like an all new venue with racers heading into the unknown, with a blank canvas to draw on you can be sure the SES organisers will produce yet another classic.
Full Results: are here
More information on the series: here
Words and Photos: Ross Bell: You can check out more of Ross's amazing work here