POC Scottish Enduro Series | Round 2 Ae Report and Video
Scotland’s greatest philosopher once stated that “There are two seasons in Scotland – Winter and July”, and tradition dictates that enduro racing in the knuckle end of the UK normally involves getting loose in large quantities of mud. However – after a cracking first round, the POC Scottish Enduro Series moved over to Ae forest, and the team must have worked some witchcraft as the sun was shining bright and the trails were running dry and dusty.
Looking around the paddock it was clear how popular the series had become, not only were the familiar faces present but there were many first timers keen to check out the new Lite category (a slightly shortened loop). The event had attracted riders of all abilities, bold colours and sharp kit identified the band of factory racers that had popped over to throw down at the pointy end. EWS superstars and Cube Action team riders Greg Callaghan and Scott Laughland were sure to be pushing each other, and Mark Scott would be after the win too. Endura Bergamont Factory rider Katy Winton was in deadly form so it would be a good battle with last year’s champion Roz Newman.
With quality cake and coffee on site and the sun baking down on the decking, it was a great carnival atmosphere. With a drawn out field, many of the early arrivals hiked up onto the Stage One to cheer and heckle the elite riders as they put down their best times.
Stage One was a good introduction to the day, a long section of hand cut Scottish gold that started out high over Ae where the views were amazing. After a quick dib it was straight into it through a rock garden, excitement and over enthusiasm caught a few out here. After a couple of rocky chutes, it was all full gas down the open ridge line until a 90 degree right hander gave many a rude awakening. In the bone dry conditions, grip was amazing and it was delirious fun as riders hung on down the series of steep plummets with catch berms and off-camber tree lined action.
One corner in particular was catching a few riders out, a fast pop out of a bomb-hole that looked to go left but actually snuck right. A hard charging Ben Cathro fired out of the bomb-hole, before exploding all over the trail in a tangle of 9 foot limbs. This is where Cube Action Team rider Greg Callaghan showed his experience and form, keeping it in his pants to take the win by 4 seconds. Fellow EWS racers Mark Scott and Scotty Laughland were not far behind and pushing hard. In the women’s race Endura Bergamont Factory Team Rider Katy Winton set the tone for the day, taking a clear win.
Stage Two could not have been more different, after a big old pedal to the other side of the trail centre this stage was all about power in the pistons. Taking in some of the great trail centre, speed and power were everything here as racers had to keep up on the pedals to take the win. In practice many had found it over-pedaly, but most agreed that when turning it up to 11 on race day the extra speed made it flow well. Greg Callahan showed he had plenty of gas in the tank and furthered his lead by another 4 seconds. Xtreme MTB Coach Sam Flockhart was also on fine form and took second place. Everyone knew Katy Winton would be fast on this stage and she smoked it by 16 seconds.
Stages Three and Four were again some fresh cut devilishness, from flat off camber turns where everyone had the ‘safety foot out’ to throw up some roost (or dabbing and flailing), to almost pitch dark forest turns. This was good times riding at its best, dusty dry trails and racing full speed over the emerald forest floor. Greg and Katy again were on fire and cleaned up the results table. Sam Flockhart had a big one on Stage Four and had to get the multitool out to straighten his bars (and still finished with a 13th place in the Elites).
So rolling into Stage Five, Greg and Katy had pulled out a comfortable lead, but it was still all to play for. After a flat out sprint into some big old berms, the trail dived into the woods, and lo and behold there was finally some mud. I am not sure if the SES wheel-barrowed it in, but it was great to see a wriggly, rooty, muddy section to get racers excited. Numerous sniper roots lay in wait to turn bikes upside down, and plenty of riders fired out of the stage wearing mud packs. After the final plummet of doom to the dibbers, once racers caught their breath they were full of excitement and all agreed it had been a great day. Greg and Katy had both taken the wins and the overalls – but the big shout out needs to go to Crawford Carrick Anderson who was on course to sneak onto the elite podium and show the young bucks ‘what for’. However a front puncture halfway down saw him lose valuable seconds as he squirmed flat out to the finish.
The atmosphere throughout the day was jubilant – racing in the sunshine in Scotland is just the best, transitions become enjoyable and the pace of the day slows down. Some racers even popped into the café mid race for a coffee and cake in the sunshine. It had been a big day (over 40km and 1200m of climbing), and once again credit must go the organisers for selecting a course that could push the best riders in the world, while providing a great introduction for those keen to start out in the sport. The SES has created not only a great series that showcases Scottish riding in a spectacular fashion, but also a welcoming family keen to embrace new riders. The next round is in Glenlivit and it sounds fantastic, if you have always wanted to give enduro a go, there has never been a better time – get signed up.
The next round is Glenlivit on the 13th – 14th of June, you can sign up on the Scottish Enduro Series website.
Full results can be downloaded from here
For rider pictures of the event check out Roots and Rain to see all the photos here
Words and photos: Trev Worsey