Speyside Specials!

words and pics: The Press Room

It’s always nice being back in ‘Monarch’ country and Cairngorm CC had laid on a superb weekend of racing. We were there for the Sunday afternoon races but there were already tired legs from the time trial that morning. Rolling out at 2:30pm we had the APR but this also incorporated the Sally Anne Low Memorial Road Race, which was also being run as the Scottish National Veteran Women’s RR, and it was also the final event in the Scottish Women’s RR Series…races within races within races.

The weather had been threatening in the countdown to the race itself and, Scotland being Scotland, the heavens opened just as the race got going. The course was out from Kincraig and along the B road towards Kingussie where the race would turn south and head past the Ruthven Barracks, turning east again and heading through Insh and then a left down past the Loch Insh Watersports Centre and back into Kincraig with a sprint up the Brae to finish on the second lap.

We’d positioned ourselves just short of the Speyside Distillery beyond Ruthven for the first pass and the rain was bouncing off the ground as the first group came down the hill, across the bridge and round the tricky left hander. The men came through first with the successive APR groupings chasing each other. We waited for the women and the first group headed by Helen Wyld and Louise Borthwick (Edinburgh Road Club) came firing down the hill. This was to be the break of the race and contained eight riders that had forged ahead just after the Barracks. It contained the two ERC riders, Julie Erskine (CT OnForm), Series Leader Genevieve Whitson (Isorex Cycling Team), Emma Smith (Deeside Thistle CC), Flora Gillies (Team 22), Jesse Mitchell (www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk) and Charlotte Anderson (Ronde CC).

Chasing a short way behind was the RT23 pairing of Georgia Mansfield and Amanda Tweedie who later told us that once the break had gone they just treated the race like a 2-up time trial as they knew they would never catch the lead group on such rolling terrain. The next group contained Juli Rourke (ERC), Alison Winship-MacKay (RC Cumbernauld and Kilsyth), Louisa Sturrock from the host club and Amy Forbes (Ronde CC). Trying to stay in touch was Zosia Martin (Glasgow Green CC), Natalie Taylor (Aberdeen Wheelers CC), Pamela Craig (RT23), Michelle Highfield (Berwick Wheelers) and Jackie Donald (Elgin CC).

We tried at this point to reposition ourselves back to Kincraig for the second pass but the circuit is so quick that the riders were on us before we could set up. The lead group of the APR was flying and this would settle the race as the Scratch group was unable to catch them. We passed Danny Hedley (RT23) cycling back to Kincraig, having fallen victim to a puncture but he was soon changed and standing at the finish to cheer the others home.

In the women’s race the lead group had pushed their advantage out and the 2-up time triallists of Amanda and Georgia were still doing their own thing. Jesse Mitchell attempted to break away on the run back towards Kincraig but at the bottom of the Brae it was between three riders…and the CT OnForm rider is truly in form. Julie Erskine was crowned Scottish Road Race Champion just a couple of weeks ago but she had another goal in mind.

Firing up the climb it was her head that appeared first over the brow as she led home Louise Borthwick with Jesse Mitchell close behind. Finishing just a little way behind was Genevieve Whitson but she had done enough to secure the overall in the Race Series and she was duly presented with a fresh Series Winner jersey. The prize for Julie Erskine was gaining enough BC points to move her up to ‘Elite’ level and she was quick to offer her congratulations to Peter Dennis and his team from Cairngorm CC for putting on such a fine weekend of racing.

Next home in the Sally Anne Low was Emma Smith and then Helen Wyld as she outclimbed her Edinburgh compatriot Charlotte Anderson. Flora Gillies finished on her own and then the RT23 pairing of Amanda Tweedie and Georgia Mansfield clasped arms as they crossed the line.

We were still waiting for our Vets champions and the next rider was Amy Forbes but she was closely followed by Louisa Sturrock who crossed the line to claim both the V40 and the V50 titles. Next to her was Natalie Taylor followed by Juli Rourke and Zosia Martin with Alison Winship-MacKay finishing off this group. Pamela Craig finished a further 3-minutes back with Michelle Highfield and Jackie Donald coming home 6-minutes after that.

In the Men’s APR we had a fantastic uphill sprint between Dan Saunders, Richard Harris (both Deeside Thistle CC) and Ythan CC’s Andrew Leith. Saunders led it out and took the win but it was a close run thing between his teammate and the Ythan rider, with Harris just edging Leith on the line.

Next home was another Deeside Thistle rider Victor Allan finishing just ahead of Moray Firth CC’s Kevin Smith, cheered all the way home by his sister-in-law Laura Nicolson. Riders were finishing one-by-one with the unfortunate Alec Marwick walking his bike home having punctured right at the foot of the Brae.

The Scratch group wasn’t far behind but the lead groups had done well to hold them off on such a fast circuit in such terrible weather.

All credit then to the organisers and we can’t wait to come back to race in this beautiful part of the country.

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Jeremy Goes Nuts for SquirrelCross!

words: John McComisky
image: Neon Velo

28 year old Jeremy Durrin, originally from Massachusetts and of the proper pro Neon Velo team, is the first of the flamethrowers to put his hat in the ring and enter the upcoming Squirrelcross event in Dunfermline. 

The event held on Saturday the 26th of August is the first cross event ever held in the park.

His palmares is super impressive having been a major force in US cyclocross before turning his attentions to Europe and World Championship cross events.

Durrin has visited Scotland before from his English base and lapped up the excitement and enthusiasm of the final Dig in at the Dock event held in Bo’ness.

Jeremy will be accompanied at the event by cycling Svengali James McCallum and both are up for the challenge of the compact Pittencreiff venue.

The mile long circuit has benefitted from the input of David Hamill and there is now a full mile long circuit and a course that will hold 80 riders per race.

Entries are filing up nicely, with a surge over the last couple of days.

Enter here :

Ends: For further information contact John McComisky

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Squirrel CX - May Contain Nuts!!!

words: John McComisky
Images: The Press Room

Saturday 26th August sees the return of cycle racing action to Pittencrieff Park in Dunfermline. Back in the day it hosted an International Criterium with the top Belgian riders including Freddy Maertens taking on the local aces.
Latterly it has hosted the iconic Squirrel Crit which looped the park, and threaded up though Dunfermline Abbey.

This year however is all about the 'cross, and Race Organisers John McComisky and Kirsteen Torrance have pulled together a new race on the Scottish Cyclocross Calendar. A summer event with the focus on encouraging newbies and bolstering the Women’s scene by offering for the first time a separate female race. 

Kirsteen Torrance has been working on developing opportunities for women for many years and is very keen to ensure equality and a welcoming experience for newbies and seasoned racers alike.
“There’s no reason why the women’s field cannot be as big as the men's – we create       the opportunities, we just need the riders to enter!”

The park is an ideal location for a close-knit race, its natural beauty and mixed terrain will ensure riders have an interesting and challenging course that spectators can enjoy from many vantage points, all within close distance of each other. The predominantly grassland course has camber and Belgian style switchback as well as an element of speed and technical features…with the all-important tarmac start finish straight.

“The aim was to find somewhere in an area of large population, as well as having some history at the venue. Pittencrieff fits that bill. We have promoted parkland venues before and they have been very well received.” John McComisky (Portage Cycling)
“As the event is the start of the season, it may offer riders a warm up before it gets a bit more serious. The onus is on fun, and we wanted to try a few different things with the format. We have really pushed the boat out and have commissioned stunning woodwork trophies and will have all the usual spot prizes and cash prizes for the podium in all adult categories.”

Kid's racing will be delivered in conjunction with the local club, Carnegie Cyclones and again, the organisers want to encourage as many girls and young women to enter – if this is your first race they'll ensure it is a very positive and friendly experience for you. It’s not about the podium, it’s about having fun and challenging yourself to do your best. 
Event Details and approximate timings are here: https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/165896/SquirrelCross-
Look out for further updates on: @SquirrelCX

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Good Day at Black Loch

West Lothian Clarion CC's Battle of Black Loch RR

words: Iain Elliot
photos: Scott Armour/In View Media

On a day which saw sun, rain, and lots of wind, Gregg O’Malley of Glasgow Couriers sealed an impressive solo victory in Saturdays Battle of Black Loch Road Race, hosted by West Lothian Clarion Cycling Club. Wind speed on the day often gusted to around 40mph, providing challenging riding conditions, however Gregg made a solo break on the 1st lap of the 5-lap race, and was able to stay ahead of the nearest chasing riders for the remainder of the race. Gregg extended his lead up to 1 minute at times, however finally finished the race in a time of 1:52:04, 36 seconds ahead of 2nd place rider Tom Merry (Edinburgh University CC), whilst Shaun Inglis (Hawick CC) finished in 3rd a further 2 seconds behind.

Speaking after the race, Gregg commented, “As the flag dropped, the road rises up, and it was going pretty slow so I thought I'd just set a steady/hard pace to see what happened. On crossing the finish line for the second time I decided to push really hard for a lap or so. By the third or fourth time, I realised that I had a pretty good gap, and I didn't see anyone when the road switches back on itself, so the confidence grew. On the final lap, I could see the bunch again, and had a mild panic moment, deciding I didn’t fancy losing at this point. From 300m out, I knew I had loads of time, and was able to sit up and finally enjoy it.”

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The Four Horsemen

Tom Anderson Memorial Road Race (incorporating Scottish National Vets RR) 2017

Words and Images: The Press Room

It came down to four very experienced riders with nothing much to choose between them. Ultimately, two championships were decided in the final sprint with Jamie Henderson finally claiming the title that had eluded him for a while now.

The Tom Anderson Memorial Road Race is always one of the most keenly awaited, and hotly contested, races of the season, as it also comprises the Scottish National Veterans Road Race Championships. Hosted by Falkirk BC on the testing Cowie circuit, it covers seven laps of a course that includes long exposed straights, undulating and curving backroads and a short steep climb into Cowie, often the powder-keg point for a breakaway.

First time around and the bunch was pretty much complete as everyone took stock of the course, the conditions…and each other. Riders from Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique were looking particularly keen with defending champion Andy Bruce leading them through and past, but still able to give his customary wave.

Later on the same lap it was his teammate Franco Porco stretching his legs at the front as the race came along the wind-assisted section after leaving Cowie and making the left hand turn back towards the east. They were all together apart from Sandy Wallace (Fife Century RC) as he chased a little way behind. Not bad as he was giving away quite a few years to some of the younger guys.

Second time through and a group was trying to clip away on the climb. There were more than a few dangerous riders in this group and it was quickly brought back but in classic style Kenny Riddle (Moray Firth CC) made the counter attack and we had a race on our hands. He was quickly joined by Jason Roberts (Pro Vision Scotland) and, alert to the danger posed by these very experienced riders, Andy Bruce and Jamie Henderson (Spokes RT) surged across the gap…and the dye was cast for the rest of the race.

Each time around the lead group of four were further ahead, aided in part by teammates back in the bunch. Not exactly riding interference, the Leslie Bikeshop guys and Greig Brown from Pro Vision weren’t pushing on and nobody else appeared willing to take up the reins and organise a concerted chase.

As the wind whistled through the power lines overhead, eerie but strangely musical, it was becoming obvious that the winner would come from this quartet…but which one?

Getting ready for our last pass on the circuit before relocating to the finish line on the run back towards Stenhousemuir, we had the first major upset…and it wasn’t the sudden downpour. Looking through the trees we saw the leading riders come into view…but they were one short, and it was the Pro Vision rider who was missing. Jason Roberts had punctured and although the Service vehicle was on him and had the wheel changed in a time that would have made the Mercedes F1 team envious, he was left chasing 30 seconds down.

He had the bit between his teeth and, while his former companions weren’t putting the hammer down, they couldn’t afford to soft pedal. Chasing for almost a lap at full gas he made the join as they hit the climb for the last time. He later told us that he knew he could never outsprint the others and his plan had been to attack on this last ascent. With his legs blown from the chase this could no longer happen and when the riders approached the finish he had to accept a grandstand view of the final dash for the line.
They were all experienced guys and it was Kenny Riddle who took it up, leading out for the line.

Putting all his past track experience to good use Jamie Henderson came off his wheel and moved across the road as he put in a massive effort. Also coming off Riddle’s wheel, Andy Bruce made his dash but Henderson had them all beaten and had his arms in the air, teeth gritted in satisfaction at taking this title which he’s been after for a while now. Andy Bruce edged Kenny Riddle for second, and silver, but the Moray Firth rider had 3rd overall and the V50 Championship win, with Roberts finishing in fourth to take bronze in the V40s.

And then it was the turn of the bunch with Dominic Hines (Veloclub Edinburgh) easily besting the opposition. Everyone else came across the line behind the VC Edinburgh rider with little to choose between many of them.

Back to the rugby club HQ at Grangemouth for tea and cakes and the prize-giving. Announcing the V50 results it became apparent that there were some issues with the timing chip system and a long wait ensued while the comms and the race officials conferred. The Press Room photographer produced the photographs of the finish and the V50 riders were satisfied that David Blockley (RT23) had secured the bronze with Dominic Hines in silver and Kenny Riddle in Gold. Sandy Wallace picked up the V60 prize.

All in all, another successful running of the Tom Anderson Memorial and the new finish line location produced a different kind of sprint from previous years, Jamie Henderson running out a worthy and well-deserved winner.

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Youths On Track

Season Starter Crits Report – Ingliston Saturday March 11th

words and images: Stephen Birrell

The traditional early season starter races, hosted by Edinburgh Road Club, saw 150 youth riders from all over Scotland and the North of England meet to break into the 2017 road season and see with what form riders had emerging from their winter camps and turbo training sessions.

A newly designed course at Ingliston was used this year as a result of maintenance work on the traditional course layout. This added a ramp section, a hairpin and some testing corners on short straight tarmac making overtaking opportunities limited on the course.

Youth A Boys race was to be a single 50-minute race, while other events on the schedule in the other youth categories enjoyed two races, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

The A Boys race was a fitting finale to the day and quickly saw a leading group established, followed by an early breakaway from Aaron King (Speedflex). After several laps, and with King increasing his lead, the chasing group of Jamie Johnston (Leslie Bike Shop) and Hugo Lutz-Atkinson (Speedflex) chased King down to a single main group again. This bunch kept its shape for the first half of the race. Halfway through the 50-minute event a burst from Jamie Johnston and Hugo Lutz-Atkinson established a two-rider breakaway that was to prove too strong for the chasing pack to reel in. The two riders worked together for the remainder of the race and it looked like it was set to come down to the final two corners of the circuit to decide first and second positions. Looking down from the finish line, waiting to see how the sprint would run, and the crowd was surprised to see only Lutz-Atkinson sprinting for the line; cruel blow for Johnston who came down on the hairpin only to see the bunch pass and rule him out of the podium spots. The chasing bunch, with two podium positions to fight for, instantly fractured with Hamish Mclaren (Speedflex) and Matti Dobbins (Johnson Jets) taking the positions and Aaron King having to settle for 4th place with only hundredths of a second deciding the placings.

The Youth A Girls were combined with the Youth B Girls to allow two races on the day. Race 1 in the morning saw an early break with the trio of Anna McGorum (Peebles CC),  Anna Flynn (Edinburgh RC) and Eva Young (Pedal Power) leading the joint field. After 2/3 of the race, the racing saw the 3-rider lead reduced to a convincing duo of Anna Flynn leading Youth A and Youth B being led by Eva Young. The two riders were too strong for the field on the day with a sprint finish delivering a convincing win for Flynn for Youth A and similarly convincing for Young in Youth B. The afternoon race mirrored the morning event with Anna Flynn and Eva Young sharing the lead until the last lap with Anna Flynn setting a strong marker down for the season.

Youth B Boys racing saw an initial race with Callum Reid (Speedflex) suffering an early puncture and experiencing the new rules first hand with no lap-out to aid recovery in the race. The first race was contested by a sprint finish from a leading pack of six riders. Alex Gibb of Edinburgh Road Club won the sprint with Fraser Gault (Ythan CC) just missing out by a fraction of a second for second place, Daniel Kain (Ythan CC) taking third to deny the contest for the sprint from Callum Reid. With no puncture problems in race 2 in the afternoon Callum Reid broke clear early on and established a convincing lead for the duration with a solo effort for the full race establishing him as the on-form rider to watch in this category this season. Alex Gibb took 2nd overall with a quality sprint in his second race and Fraser Gault just behind to take 3rd.

The Youth C Boys race in the morning introduced the young riders to some treacherous corners as a result of the early morning drizzle. The boys race was dominated by Luis Ryder (Edinburgh Road Club), Oliver Kelly (Johnston Jets) and Harvey Kay (Edinburgh Road Club) taking the overall top spots respectively for the days racing.

In the Youth C Girls the Peebles CC riders Emily Carrick-Anderson and Christina McGorum took first and second overall with Anna Reid of Speedflex taking 3rd spot.

Youth D and E racing was a combined field racing for the under 8’s and under 10’s; these riders took to a circuit that was testing in the greasy morning conditions. However, the host club took full honours with an Edinburgh Road Club 1-2-3 of Innes McDonald, James Burnett and Alasdair Easton for the overall Youth D Boys podium.  Youth D Girls were contested with Erin Boothman (East Kilbride Road Club), Hope Thomson (Deeside Thistle), and Anna Birrell (Carnegie Cyclones) overall winners over the two races.

Youth E saw a mix of new-to-racing riders and established club riders duking it out with thrills and spills galore around the course, these young kids having to deal with the worst of the days conditions in the joint D and E race. In the Girls race Melanie Rowe of Deeside Thistle took top spot for the girls, and Louis Thornley (Cranked CC) for the boys.

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