SXC Round 1: Commonwealth Games Course

Sunny Day at the Braes for Round 1 SXC

words: Peggy Series and Graeme Short
pics: Graeme Short

After a warm and sunny practice on Saturday for many, race day on Sunday brought colder temperatures and a little wind. It was great to see large numbers of riders in every category and the atmosphere was festive and very friendly. SXC organisation was brilliant and everything ran very smoothly, testament to the level of commitment that the organisers bring to these events. Morven Brown in particular was superb, with her very colourful, enthusiastic and professional commentary, keeping the spectators and riders well informed.

It was inspiring for us all to be riding on the course of the Commonwealth Games 2014  — a course known for being physically and technically demanding. For those like me (Peggy) who were new to XC, the course was made accessible thanks to the 'line B options', but was still challenging.

A large field of Juveniles Males produced some very exciting racing, with Charlie Aldridge taking victory by just under a minute from Jamie Johnston, with Rory McGuire coming home 2 minutes behind making the final place on the podium.

In the Juveniles Females, leading the race out from the start was Anna McGorum who looked very strong along with Polly Henderson. Anna unfortunately succumbed to a broken chain which ended her race prematurely. Polly Henderson was then left alone to take a comfortable victory over Anna Flynn with Anna Shackley producing a strong race to finish in third.

The Youth Male category produced some exceptionally quick lap times with Conner Johnstone taking the victory by 36 seconds and in the process posting the fastest lap time of the morning race. Sean Flynn was very close second and Olli Dawson came in third.

Emily Field dominated the Youth Female race in spite of suffering a mechanical in the first lap. Megan Wilkinson was lying in 2nd place for much of the race only to be caught on the last lap by Louisa Watt.

The Junior Female race was a very close battle between Erika Allen and Ella Conolly for the top spot, with Erika producing a sprint up the last hill into the arena, winning by 5 seconds, with Zoe Nix taking the final place.

In the Senior Women, Elizabeth Adams rode to a convincing win, over Elizabeth Clayton 4 minutes back and Katherine Booth 6 minutes back.

Familiar ground for Kerry MacPhee with Lucy Grant in 2nd and Jane Barr in 3rd

The Elite Women was an exciting race due the quality of the field. This was familiar territory for Kerry MacPhee having competed on this course in the Commonwealth Games. She showed her class and produced a solo ride for a comfortable victory.  After a strong start, Lucy Grant settled into second place with Jane Barr coming 3rd.

It was fantastic to see such a big field for the GrandVet (50+), including Scottish and British champions.

Kenny Kentley is returning to XC after a solid winter of training and this showed with his strong performance taking the lead after the first lap and sustaining this to the finish in spite of a strong

challenge from Mark Barnett taking a close second place. Gregor Grant, former British champion, showed he still has what it takes to step onto a podium in 3rd place.

In the SuperVets (60+), John Shirley, former British champ at Cathkin Braes, comfortably took the victory from John Newton by just over 5 minutes, with Eddie Gronkowski taking 3rd.

Second Half

Like in the morning, there were sizeable entries for the afternoon race. All the usual suspects were there, along with a number of visitors from across the border, who were taking the opportunity to
race Scotland's top riders on this excellent commonwealth games course ahead of the upcoming National XC race this summer.

Expert/Elite Male:
A blistering start saw Stuart Wilcox, returning to XC after a lengthy absence, emerge from a cloud of dust to lead out the SXC stalwart Rob Friel. These two quickly opened a gap on a large chasing field.
However, Wilcox faded towards the end of the first lap, moving back through the field. This allowed Friel to move clear to chase down the top juniors, by his own admission pushing himself deep into the red in the process.  After heading into the second lap, he came off the gas slightly, pacing himself through to a controlled victory. English visitor James Edmond came through into a clear second, 2.55 down on Friel with Dougie Shearer taking a fine third spot after a mid race scrap with Shawn Clark.

Junior Male:
Scotland has a reputation for producing some outstanding young XC athletes, capable of mixing it up not only with the best in the UK but also on an international stage. Hot off a superb second place in a UCI cat MTB race in Banyoles, Spain Scottish cycling programme athlete Harry Johnston was the man to beat. However, the presence of two other outstanding young riders in the form of Mark McGuire and Calumn McGowan along with top English juniors was sure to produce some of the most exciting racing of the day. This was confirmed in the early laps, with Johnston and McGuire appearing first into the arena, together setting the two fastest laps of the day, very closely followed by McGowan. Unfortunately, lap two saw the usually very strong McGuire forced to retire with cramp, allowing Harry Johnston to push on to produce the most controlled and dominating display of the day, winning by a full 7 min. Behind, McGowan was having to tough it out with Miles Worer who managed to break free to take a fine second, with McGowan hanging on to finish the podium.

Vet Males:
The Vet Male race always provides a spectacle and this was no different. Coming into the first race of the season is always a bit of an unknown. However, if one thing is predictable, it is that Gary Mccrae will be on top form from the gun. This was found to be the case again. Gary took a fine victory, proving that he will be hard to get past this year. However, and in spite of a winter of very little training, Greg Walker showed he has the class to challenge Mccrae later in the season, after coming through the field in the latter stages to finish just 41 sec down on Mccrae. John Mccaffery took the final spot, in a very close battle with Paul Cooper.

Sport Males:
It was great to see a large entry for the Sport Male cat this year. The top riders in this category showed they have the lap times to step it up to the next level, which bodes very well for the future of the SXC elite male cat. Garry Cunningham rode clear to a fine victory by 2.49 from Micheal Sproul who came through to take second with very consistent lap times ahead of John Mitchell.

That's Round 1 done and dusted and it's onto Dalbeattie on 26th April…the contenders will be training furiously through the Easter break in order to keep or improve their high finishes.

Join us here at The Press Room for all the action.

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2015: Bring It On!

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Christmas Wishes

It's been a sensational year for cycle racing in Scotland, and we're very proud to have been able to bring you some of it.

Everyone at The Press Room would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our friends and followers the very happiest of Christmases and a well earned rest over the holidays.

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Ferguson Beaches the Irvine Opposition

words: John McComisky
photos: Mark McGhee

“ I have always really loved the sand sections of this course, even when I was a Junior; it's a hard event, but I really enjoy coming back to race in Scotland when my schedule allows”
                                                                               Grant Ferguson

Ridley Scottish Cyclocross Series Round 3: Irvine Beach Park

Scottish Cyclocross is not just about the racers pinning a number on and giving it full chunder when the gun goes; it is also the behind the scenes course preparation and organisation that make the events what they are today.

Challenging conditions but happy faces: all credit to Neil Walker and his team

In the most challenging of circumstances Neil Walker and his die-hard Walkers Cycling crew battled against every conceivable obstacle to put on what will be remembered as possibly the hardest event that many a 'cross rider can ever expect to clip-in and take a splintering, battering in the dunes and climbs of the Irvine Beach Park venue.

Riders braved the truly challenging conditions

With over 380 riders signed on and ready to battle in the most tempestuous of circumstances, Mother Nature well and truly spat the dummy out and puked rain, hail and gale force winds on all concerned for the duration of the third round of the Ridley Scottish Cyclocross Series.

The dunes and slick off-camber sections are normally a test of strength enough for any bike rider, but the sight of racers shot out by the wind and squalor riding gamely into the gully of grimace, hunting to hold a wheel, forced some clever riding and a pack mentality that is very rare in a Cyclocross race.

Quiet man in the middle: Series leader Rab Wardell and Doonfoot winner James McCallum line up with super talent Grant Ferguson

While so many were flailing in the conditions, Scottish Cyclocross fans were treated to the oh-so-rare appearance of British Under 23 Cyclocross Champion Grant Ferguson (Brentjens), who lined up against Series hot shoe Rab Wardell (Orange Monkey Pro Team), James McCallum ( and a glut of competitors and fancied podium riders in the shape of the gritty Stevie Halsall (VC Moulin) as well as the young guns Calum Magowan (Alpine Bikes) and Harry Johnston (Team Thomsons).

Ferguson, a World Class Mountain Bike rider, was more than happy to take to the sand and a set of curly bars to give the Series regulars a master-class in beaching the opposition in a fraught and trying race.

International rider Ferguson brought the toughest competition that Wardell has faced in the Series so far

From the get-go, he was joined by an on-form Wardell, and the pair set about ripping the backside out of the race early on.

Wardell, who was well aware that grabbing Series points would be key to his race, clung on limpet-like in the early laps until Ferguson decided to drop Wardell's anchor and ride solo in the latter part of the race, sucking up not only his pursuers, but incredibly putting a lap in to all but the remainder of the podium boys by the time the chequered came around.

Class act Steven Halsall was the only rider other than Wardell to avoid being lapped by Ferguson

Wardell rolled home in a safe second ahead of Halsall, and a spirited ride from McCallum (last week's Doonside Trofee Winner) who was one of the first to admit the boy Ferguson is simply on another level.

After the race Ferguson, despite shivering in the wind and rain gave his take on the race: 

“I would really like to take in more events (in Scotland), and on a bigger scale had hoped to ride at the World Cup in Milton Keynes, but there is no class there for me, that is a real pity. I may be able to catch a few more races up here and the odd National Trophy before the end of December; the racing up here is at a really good level now”

There was the usual ego bashing and chest puffing before the start of the Veteran Forty class, with all of the usual Series riders on-grid, as well as a welcome visit to the dunes from Kevin Ashbridge (V.C Cumbria) to add a little more seasoning to the ninety-strong field.

Start line dash for the V40's

After the usual scrap from the start, Paul McInally (Evans Cycles) managed a full-on effort early doors to lead the main riders up the zig-zag climb, before the full effect of the omnipresent, heaving storm blew the pecking order to smithereens, and soon small cluster groups were forming all the way down the order.

Border Reiver Kevin Ashbridge brought the fight to usual fast men Stephen Jackson and Gary McCrae

Stevie Jackson (Glasgow United) is well worthy of merit for taking on the race and managed to batter his way to the front of the field in the early laps pursued by the combined efforts of the Leslie Bikeshop/Bikers Boutique squadron, Messrs: McCaffery, Porco, McCrae et al. These guys, along with Colin Bain (EKRC) and an impressive Ashbridge, would soon be hurling themselves, but not any abuse, into the midfield flotsam of the race by the time that last lap bell came a-clanging.

We're getting used to this sight: Glasgow United and Leslie Bikeshop fighting it out!

McCrae was first to falter after the last climb of the day when well positioned, and was seen sadly trying to unhinge his chain as the main group of five riders continued back into the brutally boisterous headwind and along the harsh foamy scab of sand before entering the arena. At the flag Ashbridge muscled out a win from a brave Jackson, who was running on empty at the line and a welcome podium from John McCaffery.

Fighting the course and conditions: Gary McCrae and Alister Watt

The Veteran Fifty Class again saw Brenden Roe (Leslie Bikeshop/Bikers Boutique) put the boot in early on, and he gapped the 30-strong grid to fight among the dunes and along the headland for the final poduim places. Roe who is never content just racing the Veterans was soon keeping the best Juniors honest in the shape of West Lothian Clarion's Jamie Mason and Fifer Conor Nally (Hardie Bikes). Mason more than did himself justice taking his Junior first win of the year, along with Roe who has now a trio of victories to show for his efforts.

A class apart: Brenden Roe took an early lead. It helps to have a newly-signed Wiggle-Honda pro' as pit boss. Chris Duncan heading back along the headland

The very harsh nature of the race meant that there would be plenty of last gasp lunging and diving to the line as riders circulated together for much of the race, sussing out weakness and sucking in the sea haar. Closest podium of the day went to Graham McGarrity (Dooleys) who swooped in ahead of Bill Young (Leslie Bikeshop/Bikers Boutique) to grab second Veteran on the day.

Faster and faster: Isla Short takes her first Elite win ahead of Anne Ewing and Maddy Robinson 

The hardy Women of Scottish Cyclocross who were in and out of the sand parcour with the men, often had to work hard to avoid the traffic and try and set a race up for themselves. Anne Ewing (WV Breda), who admits that she doesn't like technical courses, was riding gamely with Isla Short (Team Thomsons) at the helm of the race with erstwhile stand-in commentator Maddie Robinson (VC Moulin) unable to bridge over to the duo, who played it tough in the ruts and climbs. Short was able to dispense with Ewing by race-end with Robinson a solid third. The Veteran Women class continues to hold no fear for Sian Tovey (Dooleys Cycles) who racked up her third win on the bounce from a very impressive ride from local Walkers racer Lorna Sloan.

Sian Tovey has been untouchable in the Series so far and notched up three for three

Winning races and being at the top of the heap meant little to Isla on the day however, as she dedicated her win to the unfortunate passing of one of East Kilbride Road Clubs finest, John Gordon. I am sure all of you reading this will join in offering heartfelt condolences to the Gordon family at this time.

Maddy Robinson and Anne Ewing made sure that Isla Short had to work for the win, which she then dedicated to the memory of John Gordon

Let's show our respect to John's memory in the best way possible…by turning out in droves for the mudfest that is the 'Shan on Sunday. With more bad weather forecast for the weekend the mudslide is sure to be packed with on-lookers hoping for some out-of-control sliding action. Before that, we have the ghouls and ghosts of Hallocross on Friday evening at Dalkeith. With a prize list as long as Jimmy Mach's arm there'll be hot, scary competition through the woods of Midlothian.

See you there!

Mixed fortunes but another great Ridley Scottish Cyclocross event

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The Wrath of the Strath Fails to Stop Wardell

Words; John McComisky
Images: Mark McGhee

Lots of spectators and lots of riders on yet another dry day

Ridley Scottish Cyclocross Series Round Two: Strathclyde Park

After all the fervour and success of last weekend's Falkirk race, the Ridley Scottish Cyclocross Series moved westward to the second round held in the parkland and gravelly trails of Strathclyde Park.
The event organisers at the East Kilbride Road Club, have modified the course over the last few years to accommodate the larger entries that cross is now experiencing, as well as adding some technical features, with rooty adverse cambers and every conceivable change of surface to challenge the great and the good of the sport.

Rab Wardell is getting used to doing this: check out his r/h shifter

With a healthy 350-odd competitors signed on swiftly, the race card would go very much to plan. The organisers, should be credited with having to deal with errant dog walkers on the morning of the race, as well as a few nasty prangs, the biggest of which involved a curious deer, who hoofed its way onto the course and collected a rider (you know who you are John from Kinross) in the process, a first and hopefully a last for Scottish Cyclocross.

The biggest field of the day splashes towards the bottleneck

The main Ridley Senior race saw last week’s victor Rab Wardell (Orange Monkey Pro Team) take to the grid, but he was without the likes of David Lines and James McCallum, both of whom had prior commitments at home and abroad. He would however have a bunch of young Scottish development talent more than able to roll him for his dough, and the seasoned Senior hordes who circulate the lowers steps of podiums and who will grasp and grab any opportunity of a win.

Series leader Wardell, and some of the riders snapping at his wheels

From the arena and start area, the clunk and scream of the omnipresent helter skelter and funfair gave way to the crack of the gun and Senior race blasted out into the lower end of the circuit. Wardell was soon grabbing the race by the throat, and had dispensed with the attentions of a very impressive Mark McGuire (, Callum MacGowan (Alpine Bikes) and Steven Halsall (VC Moulin).

Always there or thereabouts, the excellent Steven Halsall

With the gap stretching out to fifteen seconds, the gurgling chat at the Railway Bridge run-and-ride-up, was all about who would be finishing second, but by lap three Wardell seemed to be in some distress, and it was clear he had hit the deck smashing his r/h shifter.

If you've ever wondered what an Ultegra shifter looks like inside...

With only two gears and no front disc brake, the character of the race looked set to change. And change it did, and for the better with regard to Wardell; he set about blowing the race apart and was soon gapping the field by over a minute.

Rab Wardell puts time into the field as he heads for the finish

McGuire who had been riding gamely, also had an altercation in the woodland section but was back on it battered and bloodied, but by race-end he along with the rest of the young team had to give best to Halsall, a rider who is one of the most technically gifted riders in the sport up here, and simply revels in the ruts and roots of more traditional courses. The final step of the podium went to MacGowan; the young rider has shown well in the first two Ridley events this season and is one to watch for future success.

In hot pursuit: the chasers led by Halsall and MacGowan

Interviewed after the race, Wardell had this to say:

“There is never an easy Cyclocross race, it throws every variable at you, whether you are at the front or the back. After my crash, I just figured on getting the head down, I was getting good split information, and it worked, I don't know how the race would have went if Davie (Lines) and James (McCallum) has been in there, but am sure they will be back to keep me company at Irvine.”

 And quizzed on his plans for the year: 

“I am hoping to fit as many cross races in this year, I will be away at the end of the year to Paris for track coaching, so will miss events, but I really do love getting up on a Sunday and heading to a race, the sport is growing here, there are more and more spectators staying on to watch the action, and it is a good scene...I think it is time I tried to get over to Belgium” he quipped.

The Veteran class is the biggest supported class we have here in Scotland, and the battle for even a series point further down the ranks, is of as much interest to the onlooker as the sharp end of the race itself.

Leading from the front: Stephen Jackson was out for the win

Gary McCrae (Leslie Bikes/Bikers Boutique) was the man with the target on his back after drawing first blood on the plains of Callendar Park the week previous, but as the grid was forming amid the smell of frite fat wafting and hanging across the grid, he was well aware that the Glasgow United and it's three amigos James Melville, Hans Forhaug and Stevie Jackson would be cooking up a plan for him when the gun was triggered.

Marked man: McCrae was left chasing to get back on terms 

From the off, there was chaos at the bottom corner with McCrae entangled in a mess of riders and with this the United “Wrecking Ball” swung into action; before long this trio had smashed down the ramparts of the race.

United's Wrecking Crew: James Melville, Hans Forhaug and (bottom): winner Stephen Jackson

Jackson, so often the nearly man of the Veteran class, was in powerful leg ripping form, and his Swedish Shadow Forhaug was more than happy to keep the pace high alongside him. Melville had to make do with consolidating third place, and despite a gutsy ride from McCrae, to charge back through the traffic, he was going to have to re-group for the sand dunes of Irvine beach in a couple of weeks’ time.

Top ride from the Blue Train's Colin Bain saw him finish in 5th spot

Off the podium maybe but a spirited ride came in the shape of Colin Bain, the home club East Kilbride rider further changing the shape of the top positions in fifth place, and adding a new rider to watch for a possible podium in later events.

Onward to the Veteran Fifty Class and first round winner Brenden Roe (Leslie Bikes/Bikers Boutique) had the fastest pit crew in Scotland in the shape of British Women's Circuit Race Champion Eileen Roe who despite recovering from a bout of illness was on hand to keep her father on the right track, and also to keep an eye on her bike which he is using to great effect.

The all-conquering 'Brembro' aided by a National Champion

The classic motorcycle loving Fifer was truly revved up for this weeks race, and despite being run close the previous week, was soon ploughing his own furrow in the glore and leafy glades of the Strathclyde venue. 

Malcolm Dunlop and Mark Barnett filled out the podium

In his wake came a strong ride from Malcolm Dunlop (VC Edinburgh) who continues to go about the job of trying to wrestle a race win out of the series. New to the Veteran Fifty this year Mark Barnett (Leslie Bikes/Bikers Boutique) scored a first podium of the year in third, and is sure to be a proverbial thorn in the side of the main players. Mark has won at Scottish as well as British level in mountain bike racing, and put this experience to good use in the more natural setting of the Lanarkshire venue.

The three riders we're getting used to seeing on the podium: Maddy Robinson, Kerry McPhee and Isla Short

The Women of Scottish Cross never fail to put on a fine show in the Ridley Series, and the scene was further bolstered by the addition of Jane Barr (Velocity44) and the return of Isla Short (Team Thomsons) who both joined the proceedings for the first time this year. This pairing would have an on-form Anne Ewing (WV Breda), Kerry McPhee (Rock and Road) as well as 2013 Series overall winner Maddy Robinson (VC Moulin) to deal with however, and it was going to be a sort-out for even a podium position.

Jane Barr and Anne Ewing will be challenging for top honours

The early laps saw the cruel mistress that is Cyclocross, deal a deflating blow to Ewing though who was out of the running with a puncture. Up front there was a cracking battle between Robinson and McPhee, with this pairing knocking lumps out of each other for the race win. Robinson showed that she is well and truly back on form after her energy sapping ride at the Three Peaks earlier in the year, and was able to ride Kerry off her wheel for her first win of the year. The diminutive Short had to make do with the final step on the podium, but is sure to take a race to the girls as the series unfolds and can never be discounted.

Race winner Maddy Robinson chases back to Kerry McPhee after clearing her rear mech

The Veteran Female class again saw a strong performance from Sian Tovey (Dooleys Cycles), who looks like she is going to be a tough skull to crack this year, and proved it again by rattling to her second win of the year.

Sian Tovey wins the Vet Womens race and share the podium with Lorna Sloan who took 3rd

The youthful exuberance of the Junior class, again saw the boys ride off the front of the eighty strong field, and control proceedings for the duration of the race. Where most of the entry were off and running, these guys are blasting up the climbs, carving out the turns as well as descending with full-gas. You always have to double take at the lap times of these firebrands who are more than capable of taking a race to the Senior men. At the flag Pierce Somerville proved victorious on the day from Hardie Bikes rider Conor Nally.

Next generation: Pierce Somerville and Conor Nally

While we are on the subject of young talent showing a strong presence in Scottish Cyclocross, a vote for rider of the day, should go to Conner Johnstone (Leslie bike/Bikers Boutique); this lad is no quitter, and despite having to deal with punctures, a bike change and having to ride himself back into the race from sixth place only to puncture again on the run to the line, managed to snatch a fine win in the Youth Class, possibly his hardest day in the saddle to date.

(Top): Our man in the field cheers on Wardell, (right): tough race saw Franco Porco finish 7th in the V40

The Ridley Scottish Cyclocross Series now takes a couple of weeks out before we head to Irvine and the nearest we get to Koksijde or Joksijde as the Cross fraternity name it up here. If you want to be part of the Dune race organised by Neil Walker and Walkers Cycling mob, you can get an entry here:

If however the last couple of lung burning series cross races have now, still got you gagging for more of the same, the Doonbank Trofee, superbly promoted by the Ayr Roads Club have a new to the fixture list non series event this coming weekend details here,

These non-series are the future of the sport up here, and need supporting, The Press Room will be there on the day to capture all the action.

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Wardell's Ridley Romp

It was the season opener and the rain held off all day. The racing was fast and furious, Jammie was in fine voice aided by Maddy Robinson, and The Grange sold every scrap of food they had. It could only be cyclocross and our man in the field, the Great McComisky, found time between races to cast his experienced eye over proceedings.

words: John McComisky
pics: Mark McGhee

David Lines and Robert Wardell were locked together for the first half of the race

Round One of the Ridley Scottish Cyclocross Series ensconced itself to the already autumnal and very picturesque setting of Callendar Park last weekend (Oct 5th). Event organisers Franco Porco and David Lines, with the help of a strong support team, put on an incredibly fast and exciting course, with many additions to the previous year’s event, which featured switchbacks and drops, swoops and slick turns taking in the natural landscape of the Falkirk venue.

The Ridley Steps which riders had to run up each time around (except Gary McDonald who managed to ride them)

These features were mated with the new-for-2014 Ridley Steps which offered the riders the choice of running or in some cases riding the feature. Before the racing had even started in earnest, the organisers were proud to announce that a record breaking field of 469 riders, 89 of them female, had signed up for this Scottish Series event. The course held up well despite some overnight rain, and the scene was set for a race and venue that is more than capable of putting on British National and indeed International events in the future.

Riders prepare mentally and physically for the rigours ahead

In the Senior event, World Cup Mountain biker Rab Wardell (OrangeMonkey Pro Team) was soon at the thick end of the proceedings, along with event organiser Lines (Starley Primal); this pairing put the hammer down early on to shake off the attentions of an impressive Jack Ravenscroft (Team Thomson Cycles) and a fast starting Callum MacGowan (Alpine Bikes). The full-out riding of Wardell and Lines looked set to go down to a sprint finish in the sixty minute race until Lines un-shipped his chain on one of the many technical features and despite raucous support from his home crowd, was unable to make inroads to the on-form Wardell.

The podium winners: Wardell (1st), the talented Jack Ravenscroft (3rd) and co-organiser Lines (2nd)

Behind all this drama Ravenscroft secured the last step of the podium despite a mid-race collision. The fourth rider home saw a welcome return for James McCallum (NFTO Pro Cycling) who is sure to feature strongly in the upcoming series events this year.

Sean Clark and Lauri Peil (ERC)

The Veteran 40 class had the strongest field of the day with one hundred and ten riders taking to the grid, which included reigning Ridley Series Senior winner Colin May, who has moved up a category to take on the might of Gary McCrae, John McCaffery, Alan Lamont and event co-organiser Franco Porco (Leslie Bikes/ Bikers Boutique).

Stephen Jackson and co-organiser Franco Porco lead the V40's in a race that saw both finish in high positions

From the crowded and manic start, McCrae soon dispensed with the attentions of May and Glasgow United's wrecking crew of James Melville, Hans Forhaug and Stevie Jackson, and set into a race pace that saw him lap almost half the field before race end. Twenty seconds down was an impressive Colin May who divides his time between cycling and driving one of Edinburgh's trams, and a strong ride from Forhaug who was top United rider on the day.

(top): Race winner Gary McCrae. (bottom left): Colin May, (bottom right): Hans Forhaug and James Melville

The Veteran 50/Women/Junior race which is run as a split category saw Brenden Roe (Leslie Bikes/Bikers Boutique) have to work hard after a fall to see off the attentions of Alastair Dow (Ronde), who really took the race to the reigning Scottish Champion, and an impressive ride from Malcolm Dunlop (VC Edinburgh) secured the final podium spot.

(left): Joseph Fee, (right): Mike Lynch and Steven Halsall

The fastest Juniors though, would end up first across the line in this race in the shape of Andrew Vettraino, with local rider Jamie Mason having to give best on the day. Really worthy of note though are the lap times of these Junior riders; both of these lads are more than capable of riding in the Senior class with distinction.

Scotland International Anne Ewing (WV Breda) transfers her skills to the muddy stuff

In the Women’s class, Anne Ewing (WV Breda) added some International flavour to the race by putting the hurt into a twenty eight strong field who took to the parcour. Ewing, fresh from stage racing in Ireland was soon in charge of the class and finished comfortably in front of Kerry McPhee (Rock and Road), another rider with a fine pedigree in International racing both having represented Scotland at the recent Commonwealth Games, with the last spot on the podium going to the impressive Lucy Grant (Peebles CC), winner of the Tweedlove Sprint earlier this year.

clockwise from top: Iain McMullen, Paul McInally and Owen Philipson

In the Veteran Female category, a fine ride was had by former Scottish Time Trial Champion Sian Tovey ( who is looking like a rider to watch this year for overall honours.

5 laps for George Stewart

The Kids and Youth events, also had a fantastic turnout in all the classes; it is such a heartening sight to see the future stars of cycling, having a safe and well organised arena to ply their skills in the setting of the park and Central Region.

clockwise from top left: Russell Duncan, Steven Halsall, Addy Pope and David Lines

After all the mud had stopped flying, the organisers were quick to acknowledge the continued support of Ridley, Lazer Helmets and Madison, who really have enhanced cyclocross in Scotland. Additional race sponsors on the day in the shape of Sufferfest Training, Wheelsmith, Andrew Wilson at Visual Fit, Soigneur Embrocation and Grange Kitchen are worthy too of mention in supporting grass roots cycling events.

James Melville remounts in style

There is also a lot of credit due to the team at Falkirk Community Trust who have liaised with a great team of ground staff to help put on what many see as the best ever event held in Scotland.

Next up is Round 2 at Strathclyde Park…see you there!

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