How do you finish a series that has spanned the length and breadth of Scotland,? How do you top the warm welcome of Dunoon, or the intense punch of Wolftrax? When choosing a fitting venue to crown the new 2018 Scottish Enduro Champions, only one venue rang true, it had to be Dunkeld.

On the morning of the race the weather was not giving anything away
Beneath the woods, wild salmon made the arduous journey upstream.

With Autumn reaching its red and gold crescendo, there can be no more beautiful place than Dunkeld, deep in Scotland’s Big Tree country. Douglas firs tower over 60 m, the tallest in the UK, throwing long shadows over the River Tay as wild salmon make their treacherous journey upstream. Dunkeld is as iconically Scottish as it is legendary in the riding community, the perfect host for the final round of the season. And what a season it has been, the POC Scottish Enduro Series has travelled throughout Scotland, with good trails at its core it has not only highlighted the incredible riding, but also the warm communities and local businesses all eager to bring the travelling enduro family into their towns. Champions would be crowned too. Each racers best four rounds decide their ranking in the overall series, and after some stellar clean-sweep performances some of the championship titles had already been won. However, many were still to fight for and would go right to the wire, every second would count.

Every race should start with a good coffee, and the amazing Scottish Deli were open early to oblige.
You can see why Perthshire is named Big Tree Country, riding under giants
Nicki Moore looked unbeatable on Craigvineans rocky trails.

Thanks to Flotec suspension and the local trail building community, the racers were in for a treat. Six engaging stages that demanded nerve, good tyres and the ability to throw some serious dance moves. Starting on the dark and primeval trails of Craigvinean forest, the first three stages were a wakeup call indeed, featuring networks of roots that make the London underground look simple and enough surprises to make riders far more familiar with the underside of the bikes. The final three stages were on the banzai trails of Newtyle Hill, a nirvana for those who like their corners steep and off-camber.

Flat out and eyes on the finish, every second counted towards the overall.
[The boys said I would add a crappy caption about cameraderie here] The hunt is on for these three riders who intimidated a young Ben Cathro into handing over his lunch money.

As if in celebration of the final round Scotland finally delivered some sunshine, turning the slippery tech fests of practice into something with real, actual grip. One by one riders were spat from the bottom of stage 6, excited chatter about ‘best days ever’ and ‘amazing riding’ filled the hill, it had been a challenging and at times bonkers end to the season. All that was left to do was to roll into town, hand in the timing chip before celebrating or commiserating over a cold pint in the Taybank pub.

#killingit, the SES bananas have become a regular fixture.
As forecast, the sun started to make an apperance.
The trails of Newtyle Hill were the racers favourite.

Ben Cathro, the fastest rider on the day.

When it came to the results, in the elites it was perhaps no surprise to see Ben Cathro on the top step, DH skills and long levers were certainly beneficial in Dunkeld. He was joined by Paul Barrett in the Grand Vet Males, Graham Rushworth in the Hardtails, Louise Ferguson in the Junior Women, Jamie Edmondson in the Junior Males, Stu Thomson in the Masters, Nicki Moore in the Senior Women, Callum Orr in the Senior Males, Steve Bradley in the Super Grand Vet Males, Liz Gilmour in the Veteran Women and Crawford Carrick-Anderson in the Veteran Males. Diana Mclaren and Graeme McCart took the short course wins.

In the overalls, it was time to crown the new Scottish Champions. Diana Mclaren and Graeme McCart would take victories in the important Short Course category. Julia Ferguson looked delighted to take the Veteran Women’s category, alongside Nicki Moore in the Senior Women and Louise Ferguson in the Junior Women. Derek Laughland and Steve Bradley took joint champions in the Super Grand Vet category with Paul French taking the Veteran win. Bradley Illingworth dominated the Masters ‘category and Calum Grant is the new Seniors champion. Kevin Ostroznik took the hardtail category, kudos to him, and after a clean-sweep with four victories, Corey Watson took a decisive win in the Juniors, eltes for him next year. In the Elites, nobody had an answer for Lewis Buchanan’s speed, the new Scottish Champion.

Our new Scottish Champions
Cheers and see you all in 2018!

Preparations are already underway for 2018 so the Scottish Enduro Series team will get no rest, a big shout out to the medics and the many amazing marshals who made each and every round enjoyable, well organised and ultimately safe for the riders. In the end, the real heroes are the mid-pack racers, those who made every round but never stood on a podium, racing for camaraderie and to measure their performance, or lack of it, against Scotland’s best. These are the backbone of enduro, helping to shape the series into the boot camp of champions.

While competition is the heart of the SES, over the years the attending riders have become more than competitors, they have grown into a family, travelling together from round to round. It is with great sadness that last weekend we lost one of our very close family with the passing of Derek Laughland. Derek was an inspiration to the entire racing community, warm, friendly and loved by all. Derek was instrumental in supporting and encouraging younger riders and stood as a role model for the strong connection and camaraderie that riding brings. Ride free Derek, you will be dearly missed. Our thoughts are with the family.

Official statement from the Scottish Enduro Series: The world of enduro and the Scottish Enduro family is today coming to terms with the tragic news of the passing of Derek Laughland. No Fuss Events, which runs the Scottish Enduro Series, have today said: “Everyone involved with the event is distraught following the untimely death of Derek A friend and long-time supporter of the Series, Derek had been riding bikes for longer than most – a passion that had taken him on adventures around Europe and beyond. He will be sorely missed by all. Our thoughts and heartfelt condolences are very much with Anne, Heather and Scott and with Derek’s many, many friends. No Fuss Events and Forest Enterprise Scotland will co-operate with and assist any investigation.”

Derek Laughland, Scottish Enduro Champion, always pinned, always loved. You will be missed.

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Words & Photos: Scottish Enduro Series