Scottish racing is back in business! After two months of glorious weather, Scotland’s finest trails had become almost unrecognisable, our beautiful sinuous ribbons of slick brown were replaced with a confusing hard substrate promising alien concepts such a grip, traction and confidence at high speeds?
Scottish riders just didn’t know what to do? Throughout the land, bewildered riders studied endless YouTube ‘shred-edit’ videos trying to figure out this strange thing knows as dust? Luckily, just before the third round of the POC Scottish Enduro Series in Ae Forest, the heavens opened, feeding the soil and bringing the trails back to the high-octane slip-fest that we know and love. There would be mud!
Round three of the series had travelled to Ae Forest in Dumfries and Galloway, a location with a distinguished history when it comes to DH. Many Scottish champions have cut their teeth on the formidable jumps and drops that hide in Ae’s woods. There’s also a great trail centre and facilities that keep Ae high on any visiting riders bucket list. However, there is also natural gold cutting in-between the surfaced trails, the sort of technical gnar-fests that make you wish you could ride better. As soon as practice started it was clear that the team at Ae had pulled out all the stops for the coming of the POC SES series, repairing trails and tweaking turns to offer more support, the tracks were running beautifully. As the rains fell before race day, everyone knew they were in for a treat.
Mud is fun, in fact Scientists have proven that playing in the mud will boost your mood, Mycobacterium Vaccae bacteria in the dirt boosts serotonin in the brain, causing elation. Knowing this, riders must have been buzzing out of their trees as they literally bathed in the stuff on the natural stages. Conditions were about as hard as they could be, slick drying mud over hardpack, grabbing a handful of brakes meant going faster, only backwards, and the only way to get clean through most of the corners was a positive mental attitude. Conditions like this are the bread and butter in a Scottish racers skill set, and the forest was full of hoots, hollers and some very creative swear words. With spectators lining the lower stages in full heckle mode, and an army of midges that must have drawn recruits from all over Scotland, it was sure to be a big day. The forest itself was awash with green, a rival of any Rain Forest, it was the sort of foliage that if a T-Rex wandered over the stage, you would have shouted “Rider” and charged by with a second glance.
The day consisted of five stages, taking in everything from a hedonistic slip’n’slide through some of the finest corners in Scotland, to a lung busting pedal fest down a fast trails centre stage. The loop travelled far out over Ae Forest, never climbing too steeply, and proved plenty of time to catch up and keep above midge flying speed. The spirit was strong at the event, many chose to stay overnight in campers, and the Ae Cafe was working overtime to keep riders in caffeine and bacon. Many new riders had joined the ranks everyone was excited to see new faces and nervous to see if any underdogs would steal some usual podium positions.
Despite three events all being on the same day, the field was still strong, especially at the pointy end. Ibis Enduro Team racer Lewis Buchanan was looking to extend his strong position in the overall, but James Shirley, Gary Forrest, Ronan Taylor, James Purvis and Christo Gallagher were keen to put a spanner in the works. Let’s not forget Calum McCubbing too, he knows these trails like the back of his hand, so would always be dangerous. In the women’s catagory, Fiona Beatie, Roz Newman and Louise Haggerty were all looking to do well, but they all know they would be fighting off the junior wunderkid Polly Henderson. After a intense day racing, Lewis Buchanan took an easy victory, with enough time left over to brew a cuppa, however Gary Forrest did sneak a stage win off him on the pedally stage showing there’s still legs on him, but a puncture took him out of the rankings. In the women’s race, it was again junior Polly Henderson who smoked the field, and even took 78th overall. Congratulations to the rest of the winners too, Lindsay Carruthers, Lewis Kirkwood, Shaun Sangster, Stuart Nicholson, Louise Haggerty, Scott Aisthorpe, Neil Young, Darren Scott, Hannah Watkins and Richard Stephenson in the Grand Vet Male, Hardtail, Junior Male, Master Male, Senior Female, Senior Male, Super Grand Vet Male, Veteran Male, Short Course Female and Short Course Male categories respectively, you’re all heroes. Full results can be found here
At the end of the day it was another great round with amazing stages, living up to the #ukpremierenduro series tag, everyone rode their socks off with big smiles on their faces. The next round of the series is Dunoon, a very popular destination, and we are excited to entertain the locals with an exciting street prologue.
Save our forests
Unfortunately, Scotland’s Larch trees are currently under threat, the Phytophthora ramorum fungus is spreading like wildfire throughout Scotland and killing off the Larch trees. The POC Scottish Enduro Series and Forestry Commission would like to reach out to riders and ask that they always wash their bike before leaving a trail centre, especially if they ride in many centres. Never take a muddy bike from one location to the next. Let’s do our bit for the forests.
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Words: No Fuss Events Photos: Trevor Worsey