Having tried a few of the regional races the previous year, this was only my second year racing my bike, and would be my first season in Masters category tackling some of the more challenging races. Here’s a brief report on each of the races in chronological order:
NDH Trail Bike TT – Ae Forest (39)
Great fun mini-downhill race in March, organised by Northern Downhill, best suited to trail bikes. Practice in the morning, with two timed runs in the afternoon. I had at least two massive blow-out punctures in practice, so played it safe for the first of the afternoon’s timed runs, then pushed on for a faster run in the second – still managed to sneak into the top ten. Final result – 9th in Masters.
Scottish Enduro Series #2 – Fort William (174)
Organised by No Fuss Events, the SES format involves free practice on all stages on Saturday, with racing taking place on Sunday. Having missed the season opener at Dunkeld due to tickets selling out, I was eager to get going. There were five stages to tackle, with a mixture of trail centre and natural terrain in each stage. While the weather held for a long day in the saddle on Saturday, it let go for Sunday and the wind was gale force with some rain here and there. Stage 5 was a tiring hike-a-bike mission through bog almost to the top of Aonach Mòr, only for descending progress to brought a virtual standstill due to the incessant wind. Brilliant event though, final position 36th.
MacAvalanche – Glen Coe (111)
Known as being the Scottish equivalent of the famous Mega Avalanche held in the French Alps, this race is not for the fainthearted! 3 stages of ski-chair-uplifted enduro racing down a snow-covered mountainside in May is not to be scoffed at. The first two stages are timed individually and act as qualifying for the final Stage 3 mass-start-mayhem. It was a challenging but ultimately great experience of racing and I managed to place 32nd.
Scottish Enduro Series #3 – Glenlivet (136)
Six stages of varied terrain, and although very XC-orientated, there were some natural and fairly steep sections to keep it interesting. Long transitions and overall distance made for a long day in the saddle for practice, and by the time Sunday came round for racing, I felt like my maximum output potential had been limited. Soldiered on nonetheless and managed to finish in 33rd.
Cream o’ the Croft Funduro – Comrie Croft (5)
First race of the season for the Muckmedden events, and the anniversary of my first ever race, just one year previous in 2015. It’s a brilliant weekend-long event for all the family and serious racers alike. Adults race on Saturday, Kids on Sunday. In 2015 I finished in 8th in Senior, and guess what, this year I finished 8th in Masters!
Ballo Enduro (103)
This was organised as part of the Coupar Angus Cycling Fesitval, and provided 5 stages of spicy enduro racing fun. Great day racing on blind stages, finished in 10th. A great wee race!
Scottish Enduro Series #4 – Laggan Wolftrax (171)
After a break for the summer holidays the SES returned with what turned out to be my favourite venue of the year. I had only ridden the marked trails once at Laggan and had never ventured over to ‘the brown side’. 6 superb stages, with the first 4 all away from the trail centre. The weather held up for the whole weekend and the stages were gnarly and challenging – although the midges would make quick work of anyone who didn’t keep the pace up. Note to self – bring a midge net for the stage start queues. Finished in 43rd, my lowest result of the season, but it was the highest attendance in Masters too.
Scottish Enduro Series #5 – Dunoon (125)
Dunoon was another new venue to me, new to most people actually, as it’s only recently developed a trail network in the forest overlooking the town. Stage 1 was held on Saturday evening for a change, a short technical track through town centre that finished on the pier. I loved this element of the race weekend – it was a great fun reward for a long day of practice, and it showcased the event to locals by bringing it closer to them for everybody to see – and boy did they come out to see! The trails were great and definitely put Dunoon on the MTB map. I finished in 37th.
Forfar Funduro (158)
Another one-day event, focused on having fun rather than all-out racing. Had a brilliant time at this event and felt fast – finished up in 4th – ouch! Best result of the year though, delighted to get so close to the podium.
Scottish Enduro Series #6 – Ae Forest (179)
The final round of the SES was a cracker, and miraculously the first really wet race weekend of the season! 5 stages of sloppy mud and roots, with a bit of trail centre thrown in for a rest, with some really fast sections and off-camber corners – really mixing it up at Ae! Brilliant weekend, finished in 36th. Took 24th overall in Masters for the 2016 SES series, super chuffed with that for a first attempt!
Fair City Enduro – Perth (181)
The weather didn’t do us many favours for this race, and although reasonably dry on the day, it had poured down in the days preceding leaving a treacherous layer of mud on top of pretty much everything. I backed off a fair bit in order to stay safe (this race wasn’t part of a series) and had a really great fun day racing in sketchy conditions, eventually placing 23rd. I was riding with Gregor Nixon that day – he wasn’t so fortunate – a massive crash right at the end left him wrapped round a tree and ultimately straight to hospital. We found out later that despite the tree hugging incident, he still managed to still finish in 1st and take the win!
Champions Invitational Enduro – Kinlochleven (125)
Big mountain enduro at it’s best – 3 long stages of snow-covered rock bashing and rut railing. It was also a Enduro World Series qualifier so the competition was going to be tough!
You can see how it went on my vlog for practice, and I also made one for race day too. It was the first ride on my new bike – had to get to grips with it pretty quickly! I thoroughly enjoyed riding on both days, loved every minute of it! I finished in 21st – what a way to finish the season! I also got 17th on the longest, toughest stage 3 – well pleased with that!
Absolutely stoked on a season packed full of races, meeting loads of new people and ultimately having some jolly good fun. I definitely noticed improvement on the previous season – experience plays a big role in racing and I feel twice the rider for having a full season under my belt. Bring on 2017! Below you can see my performance chart from roots and rain in 2016.