On a rainy weekend in November over 300 riders from all over the country left their warm homes and headed deep in the Scottish highlands to Kinlochleven to enjoy the highly anticipated ‘This is Enduro Now’ race. Mixing seasoned event organisers No Fuss with the infamous Dudes of Hazzard, the stage was set for a very special and unique event. Throw in one of the most beautiful panoramas in Scotland and all the ingredients were there for an epic Enduro.
In the months leading up to ‘This Is Enduro Now’ there was a torrent of excitement and internet chatter, with the route shrouded in secrecy there were whispers of huge climbs and super technical descents. Finally on Saturday morning the route was released and soon the car park was buzzing with riders donning weather-proof gear eager to start practicing the stages. 313 riders headed expectantly up onto the hill to see what the Dudes had prepared for them, climbing out from Kinlochleven the spectacular views over the Loch Leven were framed by the dramatic weather filled sky.
The event comprised three timed downhill stages separated by two untimed substantial climbs, with generous time allocation riders were able to take it easy and save their energy for the special stages. The first stage ‘Grey Mares’ was a flat out blast over loose rocks with deep boggy traps laying in wait for the unwary. Halfway down was a hilarious river crossing on to a steep slippery slab that claimed many a dry sock on practice day. The lower section was punctuated by highly technical corners and steep chutes that had enthusiastic riders scratching their heads trying to find the best line. True to Dudes of Hazzard style, the finish was up a super steep bank with a log in the way that was negotiated by some in a comedy fashion. The second stage ‘Gary Walks the Dog’ was easier but fast and muddy with a short sharp climb that certainly took its toll on race day. The third stage ‘The Kennels’ was just perfect, the sort of trail you could ride all day, flat out riding on what felt like an old riverbed, with rocks, mud and gnar everywhere. Infinite lines cut this way and that and it took a better head than mine to remember the fastest way down. Exhausted riders scrabbled to the finish through rooty, muddy, loose switchbacks, a perfect end to a great piece of track design.
Overall it was an Enduro rider’s dream course, designed to be both fun but tough, bringing the feel of the event more in line with the tougher European Enduros. As each rider crossed the last finish line, huge muddy smiles, enthusiastic banter and high fives were the order of the day. ‘This is Enduro Now’ could not be truer, well run, excellent timing and a course that provided a challenge for riders of all abilities. All eyes were on local ripper Joe Barnes to take the victory but despite setting fastest times on stages 2 and 3, chain issues on stage 1 put him out of contention. Perth City Cycles racer Fergus Lamb put in some super fast and consistent times to take the overall victory, with the Kinesis Morvelo Project rider Katy Winton taking the win for the ladies.
Just looking at the glowing faces of all the riders, and absorbing the post race chatter at the bike wash, it was clear to see that the event had really captured the true spirit of Enduro. The course was tough enough to provide a challenge to all but the elite racers, and there was a huge sense of personal achievement back at the Ice Factor, base camp for the event. No Fuss and the Dudes have admirably highlighted that Scotland can deliver trails and event management to provide a world class location for Enduro racing at an international level. With the culmination of the ‘This is Enduro Now’ event Scotland takes a huge step forward in the international stage, bring on the International Enduro Series!
Text & Photos: Trevor Worsey // Summitdown Mountain Bike Guiding