Race Report: The UK's Highest Enduro - Final Round of the Scottish Enduro Series & EWS European Series in Fort William

Oct 15, 2018
by Frazer Coupland  

If Scotland is the beating heart of UK enduro, then Fort William, the outdoor capital, must surely be its clenched fist. Delivering a big-mountain punch there could be no better arena for the final showdowns of both the 2018 POC Scottish Enduro Series and the EWS European Enduro Series.

Fort William is the 'Outdoor Captial of the UK, the perfect venue to conclude both the POC Scottish Enduro Series and the EWS European Enduro Series

Host to the iconic World Cup DH, Fort William has been a playground for thrill seekers for generations, just don't forget the waterproofs

Over 350 riders had travelled in, from both the UK and internationally, to take on the toughest that the UK could offer

But first, breakfast in the Pine Martin Cafe - can you smell it?

For the first time ever, the gondola and chairlifts would open up to carry enduro racers to the very top of the mountain

Weather on the morning of practice was emotional, would it lift for the racing?

Conditions for practice were filthy, it was not slowing Ella Connolly down though

Carnage corner, the scene of a million f-bombs....

For the first time, racers could smash down the upper mountain flanks before dropping into the huge lower stages. Christo Gallagher getting some

Certainly one of the most exciting UK races of the season, all eyes were on the grand finale of the POC Scottish Enduro Series. Not only would Fort William be the host for the final round of the POC Scottish Enduro Series 2018, but also the final round of the EWS European Enduro Series. With the EWS team in attendance, it was clear that organisers No-Fuss had to pull something very special out of the bag. Fort William is legendary in the DH scene, and as the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’ everyone was expecting something very exciting indeed. Teasers filtered out over social media, calls were made, plans were set, and with support from Event Scotland and the Nevis Range, Fort William’s big-mountain experience grew a whole lot bigger. For the first time in UK enduro racing, the Nevis Range Gondola was opened to whisk riders up the rugged mountainside. A connecting chairlift would take riders higher than ever before, delivering them to the very summit, and above two gnarly fresh stages, cut in specifically for the race. This would be the highest enduro race in the UK, a true big-mountain experience.

With better weather, racers first took on the action-packed stages of the Nevis Range

Direct lines save seconds, Thomas Mitchell hitting send!

Slip sliddin, Roz gets stuck into the wild conditions

The hills were on fire with colour, true Scottish gold

Dig deep son, dig deep

Spirits were high, this was racing at its best

Hunting for seconds on Stage 1

Leading up to practice day, the weather had been decidedly Scottish. As storms battled for ‘meteorological top dog’, No-Fuss had to keep a number of backup stages up their sleeves in case the weather went from wild to biblical. With the hillside taking a lashing, puddles filling and ruts deepening this was a day for waterproof everything. However, the rain did nothing to deter 350 excited riders, who donned jackets and took the battle to the mountain. The five intense stages certainly raised some eyebrows, a real mix of high-speed bike park, rooty sufferfests, potent rock gardens and full-bore charges down the high mountain ridge-line dodging microwave sized rocks and ruts that threatened to swallow riders whole, this was pure mountain-biking, a true test of both rider and machine. But what would the weather do?

For a true mountain enduro you need a gondola, luckily The Nevis Range were keen

No Fuss have really push the heights of UK enduro

Riding the Nevis Range Gondola offers a great day of riding in the summer

The top, but riders were carried even further on the chairlift

The chairlift offered a chance to reflect on why your fingers no longer worked, and time to wonder how you were supposed to hang onto your bike

Never before have bikes been to the summit

This was the highest enduro in the UK

Cutting loose onto Stage 3

There must have been more than one weather dance performed on Saturday night as on Sunday morning the sky looked lighter and brighter, it was going to be a good day on the mountain. The final round of a series is always an exciting one, for some, it marks the culmination of a season of dedicated racing, training and focus; an opportunity to stand on the overall podium. For others, it offers the chance to experience one last day of hanging on while praying for mercy before the race plates are hung up for the winter. There were new international riders in the mix too, competing for the EWS European Enduro Series title, a series that had already visited Italy, France and Switzerland. One thing was certain, Scotland was going to put on a mighty show in its own rugged style.

Descent World's Louise Fergusson getting to grips with the..... erm... lack of grip

Is this the best venue for an enduro in the UK? Yes

Big mountain riding with style

Lines of boardwalk carried riders over the bog sections

Huge rock slabs kept riders focus on the mountain flanks

Care was needed to avoid punctures, Mikayla Parton about to get stung

....about to do battle with a ripped tyre

Still, could have been this guy

Will we see an EWS here one day? We should

During the day, racing at the front of the pack was intense. The Nevis Range is Canyon’s Joe Barnes’ home turf, one of the trails is even named after him, the iconic Top Chief Black, so everyone expected him to claim the top step. However, it seems DH superstar Ben Cathro did not get the memo, taking victories on the first three stages, and building up a 14-second lead that Joe could not pull back. In the women's race, the fastest lady on the day was Junior racer, and EWS champion, Ella Connolly, taking a confident win. Huge credit should also go out to Alastair MacLennan, Euan Thomson, Jamie Edmondson, Roz Newman, Chris Ball, Louise Fergusson, Ross Hancock, Neil Young, Dan Bishop, Fiona Finnie and Mark Hughes for winning the Grand Vet Male, Hardtail, Junior Male, Master Female, Master Male, Senior Female, Senior Male, Super Grand Vet Male, Veteran Male, Short Female, Short Male categories respectively. Full results can be found here.

Focus focus, the Top Chief Black was a serious trail

From muddy tracks with wheel holes in wheel holes to this, Fort William had it all

Micheal Clyne almost home

Ben Cathro, the Hightower himself stealing victory by 14 seconds

Back at base, it was time for the tales to begin

Lewis Kirkwood races a hardtail, the word is that he is now permanently stuck in this position.

Enduro legend T-MO was on hand to help with the podiums and conclude the EWS European Enduro Series

The Pine Martin cafe was doing a roaring trade

The sun sets on another cracking POC SES and EWS European Enduro Season

Fort William proved a standout end to the season, not only giving riders a taste of big-mountain racing but also showing the dedication of organisers No-Fuss to push UK racing to new heights. Already iconic in the DH scene, Fort William showed it has world-class credentials in enduro too, the perfect stage for bigger international races in the future. The Scottish Enduro Series may be over, but there is still one special race on the calendar before the winter kicks in. The Scottish Championships will be held on November the 3rd in Kinlochleven, Scotland's most beautiful riding destination. It’s a bonkers race and one last chance to get rowdy! Spaces are limited so get signed up quickly.

Derek Laughland’s legacy

Another very special event happened this weekend. Marking the one year anniversary of Derek Laughland’s sad passing. Derek was a beloved member of the Scottish racing community, always full of kind words and championing enjoyment and fun. In memory of Derek’s influential presence to the Scottish Enduro Series, the Laughland family has kindly offered the most promising junior racers a support package that includes a Nevis Range season pass and extensive coaching with DirtSchool, race entries and support throughout the season. The successful candidates were Fraser Kelly and Polly Henderson. We are sure that Derek would have admired Fraser and Polly’s dedication and he would have been the first to offer support and encouragement in their bright racing future. Good luck in 2019 Polly and Fraser.

Stars of tomorrow, good luck Polly and Fraser

Photos: Trev Worsey


  • + 12
 Thanks to No Fuss for putting together another awesome Scottish season! Bloody good events, run well with a smile and a good craic with fellow enduroists.
  • + 12
 come on Cathro, get on some EWS and shake up that top 30....you are the Giraffe-Man !
  • + 11
 Gonna go out on a limb and presume that Cathro had the best lines.
  • + 4
 Just a fun point, and I know its not a good/direct comparison, but if Ben had beaten Joe (2nd) by 14s at the last EWS (finale) he would have come 16th... The boy's rapid.
  • + 3
 Looking at the water, dirt, splashes and clothes ... tough riding conditions for sure.
Reminds of the best moment of a good skiing day: when you get your shoes off.
  • + 2
 Scotland ???????????????????????????? looks awesome! A bit off topic but is that carbon rim in 3 pieces? I was thinking maybe carbon rims at some point, not now.
  • + 3
 If its the same wheel i saw it was an alloy pinned rim.
  • + 3
 @lwatson166: It looks a lot like carbon in terms of how it’s failed. No deformation/dings, just fractures. Front rim looks like a Reserve?
  • + 1
 @davechopoptions: it was an alloy rim , I hit a compression and a sharp edge and it went bang.
  • + 1
 @jamescw: Thanks for clarifying. Looks like a weird Alu failure?!
  • + 2
 The stages were amazing. Top few stages were a slop fest but still awesome. Ill be back for more next year for sure.
  • + 1
 I was there, it was wet, wild, sunny, amazing and bat **** crazy all in one weekend. Basically awesome times all round.
  • + 2
 If its the European Enduro Series, then surely its the EES?
(not the EWS)
  • + 1
 Looks awesome, so disappointed to have missed it. Fingers crossed for next year!
  • + 1
 Editing gold so much has it´s consequences... must be the best mirror neurons trainning...
  • + 1
 wet, sloppy and no goggles, how does that work?
  • + 4
 It’s sometimes easier to ride with no goggles in those conditions. Been to revs a couple of times and sacked the goggles off.
  • + 2
 yeah I don't wear goggles if its super muddy and wet, they just get plastered in mud and your vision is even worse. had to do that for the dunoon scottish enduro this year.
  • + 2
 When it's too wet the goggles just steam up or are soaked and you can't see a thing
  • + 1
 Could be worse..could be snowingSmile

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