The season just keeps on going it seems. Certainly for the Scottish Enduro Series (www.scottishenduroseries.co.uk) which start off back in February in Fort William. They've dragged the series out and we've still got one race to go.
Some videos to kick things off this time:
Stage 1 (some of it, until I crashed and the angle went all wrong) & 2.
I've almost forgotten what happened back in February, probably for good reasons but this weekend the series visited Innerleithen. Some of the trails tried to mimic the conditions back in February with hub height ruts dominating the initial sections of Stage 1. This ran off the top of Caberston and was reached by a challenging a long climb finishing on the top of the heather topped hill. The first stage opened up into a fast and flowing trail before finishing the 5 minute stage with a long and challenging offchamber. The tested rolling speed to the limited and proved difficult to keep on the pedals, certainly for me. Being graced by Joe Barnes, the current Scottish god of Enduro, it was always going to be his race and for me it was exciting to see how much time he would put into everyone. He didn't dissapoint and won stage one in a convincing manner. Another few names to watch this weekend were the Olympic Development XC boys; Kenta, Grant and Iain Paton who is just emerging as a hot new talent after some very impressive seasons to date. These boys are incredible athletes in their discipline and Kenta is known for his strong downhilling ability as well having one a senior race and placed only seconds behind some of the world cup downhillers this year.
Giant Trance before Stage 2
Stage two led back up the same climb branching off around the back of the old water storage resevoir which has 'Gary Forrest' famously sprayed on the side from the days he was under his ASBO. He's cleaned up his act and just shouts from the side lines now. The name, 'Off Chamber Slammer' says it all about this trail. With small climbs throughout this ended up being a pretty physical stage. Another consistant stage for me here, only being held up by the famous Tom Owen on the last drop into the finish.
As the sun peaked out from behind the clouds this gave everyone a chance to quickly clean the bikes and refuel back at the carpark and set up for the afternoons racing. This side of the hill, the classic innerleithen DH tracks usual seems like a slog to get to the top but after a morning at Caberston it was a delight to spin up to the muddy peak of Traquair.
Stage three took the classic Alistair Lee trail, a muddy affair which challenges all the way down. Roots and rocks try to push you off the main line and ruts direct you in completely the wrong direction in places. It was another 5 minutes stage and one which could easily lose time. After an interesting line choice in a few places I was pleased to dib in at the finish without any major instances. Another safe stage, just what I was hoping for from the weekend.
Somewhere on track!
Having not descended to the river level there was a more managable climb back to the top, largely following the previous trail. It's always great to spin up with different riders and it's the social side of Enduro which is also hugely appealing to most riders. With others still going up to Stage 3 it was a great time for a natter and to let the legs rest a little before the final DH stage which had a long fire road pedal in the middle. Stage 4 was the one stage where Joe Barnes didn't put the quickest time in and it was local, Wee Lew, showing his downhilling skills to claw back some time. I placed 4th on this one to give a days stage positions of 3rd, 3rd, 4th and 4th and finish up 3rd in Category. Another good ride and it was great to come away with the Podium and to lead the Scottish Series. It definitely been a fun year and it's great to have races go the right way after putting a lot into it. The sport is quickly becoming hugely competative and requires a big commitment to keep up with the pace of the top riders.
The end of the race looked a little bit like below. Lots of washing as usual! Joe was replaced by his local stunt double who has an amazing New Holland one piece on!