LOUISE Tommy Wilkinson meets FERGUSON up with scotland’s Louise Ferguson IS FLIPPING and discovers just how big her appetite is AWESOME! for adventures on two wheels
The first thing to strike me about Louise Ferguson was the juxtaposition between off-bike Louise and on-bike Louise. To say that I was a little taken aback when this quiet and unassuming young rider started sending every jump on the Fort William 4X track would be an understatement. The desire to improve and simply do more with her bike is something that’s led Louise to explore her native Scotland with an insatiable appetite. Her old Volkswagen Polo can be seen up and down the country as she races enduro in Dunkeld, perfects backflips at Unit 23 Skatepark in Glasgow, does laps of the Alnwick pump track or goes on exploratory missions into the Cairngorms. I went riding with Louise near her home in Fort William to find out what makes her tick.
The mountains around Fort William provide a perfect playground to hone your riding skills in, as well as some incredible scenery. As we hike up above Eilean Donan Castle in Kintail, an hour-and-a-half up the road, the weather is changeable, but there’s no grumbling. Leading the way is Louise’s flatmate Mark Clark, a mountain bike guide. Once we reach the saddle and set down our filming equipment, Louise wastes no time getting on her bike. It’s clear to see why she excels on the steep terrain at enduro races as she rails turns and pops over loose rocks with a carefree abandon that comes from natural flair.
Rocking up at races not knowing anyone would be intimidating for some, but Louise has earned a swathe of fans on the well-loved No Fuss Events circuit by simply rolling up her sleeves and cracking on. “The Scottish race scene is incredibly welcoming,” she says. “I found my first few races challenging but also strangely addictive.” While Scotland is still her main stomping ground, a recent threeweek bikepacking odyssey through the Rocky Mountains sparked a drive to see more via her bicycle and helped direct Louise towards the sort of life she’d like to live. “My friends and I thought the trip would tie in with our values – simply us, our bikes, wildlife and a lot of pedalling,” she explains. “It proved to be a fantastic way to experience a new part of the world and test our resolve. The future definitely holds more biking adventures!”
... and the crowd goes wild!
With a desire to see the world, race enduro and downhill and try her hand at ‘speed and style’ events, Louise is keen to compete in the Crankworx series, but doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into one type of riding. “I like to push myself on the bike and racing is a big part of that, but the main aim is to just ride my bike!” she says. “Very little beats riding bikes with good company. We’re beyond lucky to have these experiences and I’m going to do this for as long as I can.” With support from her sponsors, Louise balances riding with working as a lifeguard and at the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre, but ultimately she’d like to do it full time.
As the day draws on, we’re sent a video of Louise landing her first backflip on a double, at the Air Maiden women’s event at Glentress. High up in the mountains, with a heavy storm making its way towards us, it’s hard not to get stoked on riding bikes as we watch her set both wheels down in near perfect form, to an infectious roar from the crowd. With the stoke high, Louise and Mark set off in a train towards the bottom in the now torrential rain, still playing with the terrain as they snake their bikes over boulders, streams and water bars. Part of a new school that doesn’t care about image, trends or what’s currently in fashion, Louise just has a love of riding bikes, in any environment and in any style. With this mentality, I’ve got a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of her.
At home in the mountains
There’s no better place than Fort William if you have a love of UK mountains, and Louise knows how to make the most of them across all seasons. The Nevis range is both a summer and winter haunt, but it’s the trails surrounding it that see the most action. The
CIC path that leads to the north face of Ben Nevis is a favourite, as are some lesser-known gems just out of town. It’s here, in the shoulder season, when bad weather is likely but riding still comes first, that you can see how much Louise wants to keep riding her bike in the mountains, even with snow falling.
Racer at heart
Louise has had less time to race this year because she’s been busy completing her dissertation at the University of the Highlands and Islands. It’s something that remains close to her heart though, and she’s still managed to notch up wins in her category at two Scottish Enduro Series rounds and the wild Naughty Northumbrian Enduro, plus third place in the Scottish Downhill Championships. When on track, Louise definitely wants to win, but it doesn’t make or break her weekend, with fun being the priority at all times.
Progression plays a key part in the enjoyment Louise gets from riding too, as shown during a recent roadtrip with her Descent World teammate Skinny Mick (Michael Easton) and friends. Riding one of Scotland’s newest jump lines, Louise cleared the whole lot in one day, sending the 30ft doubles with serious style, before deciding to try to backflip a 15ft hipped double. We all headed up with her, apprehensive but confident. After five run-ins, Louise rotated perfectly over this cheesewedge-lipped gap. Rotating slightly in the air, she just tapped the landing enough to knock her off. A fail, but oh so close on her first attempt!
“I like to push myself and racing is a big part of that, but the main aim is to just ride my bike!”