Lincoln Lessons

words: Ashleigh Fraser
pics: Andrew Innes

A first-hand account of Ash taking on the big names and the infamous Michaelgate at the British National Road Race Championships.

The last weekend of June saw the 2015 British National Championships held on the cobbled and scenic roads in and around the city of Lincoln. We travelled down on the Friday afternoon with the van packed to the gunnels and on Saturday we took the time to have a look around Lincoln, an historic city with a network of narrow cobbled streets surrounding the castle and cathedral at its centre. We could feel its history as we walked around. We did a wee recce of the course which was made up of a 30 mile large loop that started at the Yarborough Leisure Centre in Lincoln and continued out into the surrounding countryside before looping back round into the city centre. The circuit then continued with 4.5 laps (8.5 laps for the men) of an 8-mile circuit around the city, including the legendary Michaelgate cobbled climb.

On Saturday evening we camped at a lovely, quiet campsite near Lincoln. The weather was sunny and warm and I was hoping that this would still be the case on Sunday! However, when we woke up the next morning the rain was pouring down and it was looking like the wet weather gear would be needed. Anyway we quickly packed up the van, ate our porridge and trucked on down to Race HQ, the thought of riding those wet, slippery cobbles getting ever more real.

The women’s race started at 10am and thankfully by then the rain had cleared up and the sun was just starting to peak through. Standing on the start line was quite a surreal experience for me. I ended up near the back due to a last minute comfort stop (nerves getting the better of me!) and this was definitely the place to be. All the big names were hiding at the back and with all the cameras and paparazzi on Lizzie, Hannah, Laura and many of the other cycling stars I definitely felt like a tiny fish in a very big pond!

The race started off hot out of Lincoln and my primary goal at the beginning was to get a good sheltered position near the front of the peloton … and to keep it! This proved harder than I thought as all the girls had the same idea. The peloton was very dynamic and if you weren’t careful you could get chewed up and spat out the back. As we left the city and rode down onto the long, straight A1500 we were hit with quite a strong cross wind and the bunch was strung out along the right hand side of the road. Again it was a fight to hold your position but I was starting to gain some confidence as the pace was not so hard for me to handle and I was feeling pretty comfortable in the bunch. After this long straight we then turned right onto a windy road that passed through the village of Upton. Along this road there were a few riders crashing but somehow I managed to avoid them. Your bike handling skills definitely had to be on point during this section.

After this we again turned right onto a long straight, which led back to Lincoln and with a slight descent and a big bunch we were flying! During this section there were a few attacks and the pace of the peloton speeded up quite a bit. At one point I was dropped from the main bunch along with a few other girls but we got organised, developed a good rhythm and worked hard to get back to the lead group.

Heading back into Lincoln my aim was to move up to the front of the peloton as I knew there was a pinch-point at the start of Michaelgate and we’d be jostling for position. I managed to work my way forwards to about 15th position when we hit the climb but half way up I got caught up in a crash as a rider in front of me caught her pedal on the kerb. My heart was racing at this point as the noise of the fans was insane; they were shouting, ringing bells and thumping on the barriers but I was slowly falling further and further back as I couldn’t get my feet clipped back in. One of the spectators ran in, held my bike for me as I literally jumped back on, and gave me a big push up to get me going again.

By this point I had fallen quite far back and was struggling to catch back onto the main bunch. I continued to chase on my own for the next lap but unfortunately I had fallen too far back and was ‘black flagged’ (pulled out of the race). Although it was disappointing not getting to finish the race I wasn’t too disheartened, the whole experience of racing against some of the best cyclists in the world as well as getting the opportunity to experience the crowds and atmosphere of the National Champs was unreal – it has left me hungry for more!

Thanks to my parents for taking me to all the races and helping make this exciting journey happen, and of course to my coach Tim Mackley (@VelocitaCoach) for his guidance and support throughout.

Thanks to Ashleigh and Andrew for this excellent and personal report on the next stage of Ash's route to the top. Stay tuned for more! (editor)

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Oliphant is Crit King of the Campus

words: John McComisky
pics: Caroline Lukes

With a whole series of criterium racing about to kick off we thought we'd have a look back at the season-opening Crit on the Campus, a young event that is fast becoming one of the best. JMC was there and gives us his take on an excellent day of racing.


Evan Oliphant is used to spraying champagne, this time with Peter Murdoch and Fraser Martin for company


Sunday 22nd of March saw the lycra-clad great and the good of Scottish cycling converge on Stirling University campus, for the second running of the increasingly popular Crit on the Campus. The event run by the Stirling Bike Club ranks as one, if not the best, of the Scottish National Criterium events and courses.

Where most crit' courses are flat full gas corner-to-corner affairs, the Campus course takes in an undulating and sinewy slither around the link roads and car parking area of the venue, this mated with a superbly tricky downhill descent back to the sound box of the start/finish area and you have the perfect phlegm clearer of an event before the road season really stamps its pedals into gear.

With a full race card covering all the Youth classes as well as full grid events for the top Scottish and indeed British National Champions, the healthy and vocal crowd would have plenty to warm themselves with amid the biting chill of a crisp Spring Stirling day.

The elite race saw lots of action from familiar faces


The main race of the day had 2014 Premier Calendar winner, and last year's runner-up, Evan Oliphant (Team Raleigh GAC) line up with the likes of David Lines (Starley Primal/Velosure), the Neon Velo duo of Peter Murdoch and Steve Lawley, and a battalion of Spokes RT teamsters, all geared up to have a crack at grabbing the event title. From the off, the full field was to come under serious early pressure from the main protagonists, and very soon the race was going to be all about the foursome of Oliphant, Lawley, Murdoch and the very impressive Fraser Martin (Spokes RT). These four had left Lines in no man’s land after missing the selection but he, along with prolific Scottish TT ace Arthur Doyle (Dooleys Cycling), were left with the task of trying to bring the break back into the hour long race.

Main bunch in hot pursuit


Towards the end of the race the main bunch swung back and forth as the 30-second lead was increased, and then simultaneously washed away, and it would be the bell lap that would prove to be the final sort out for a step on the Commonwealth Games podium that had been procured for the presentation in the main arena area. The favourites for the grab for the line had to be the Murdoch and Lawley Neon Velo pairing who had been riding stoically for the full race distance, but as spectators craned their necks for a glimpse of the lead rider exiting onto the run in to the line it was the yellow and red garb of Oliphant who blasted into view to hook up the win from Murdoch and Martin, the young charger nabbing the last spot on the podium in the final dash. Doyle, albeit 16-seconds down had to fight for the best of the bunch scraps as it continued to splinter at race end.

Result:
1 Evan Oliphant - Raleigh GAC
2 Peter Murdoch - Neon-Velo Cycling Team
3 Fraser Martin - Spokes Racing Team
4 Steven Lawley - Neon-Velo Cycling Team
5 Arthur Doyle - www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk
6 David Lines - Velosure/Starley Primal
7 Philip Trodden - The Racers
8 Andrew Scorey - Berwick Wheelers CC
9 Jordan Doig - Pedal Power RT
10 Julian Pearson - Team Moda-Anon

With the return of Eileen Roe (Wiggle Honda) from her Antipodean adventures, and a clutch of Scottish International and Games talent in the shape of Charline Joiner (Team WNT), Kayleigh Brogan (Aprire Bicycles/HSS) and Louise Borthwick (Project 51) among others, Scottish Women's cycling did themselves proud by providing the biggest grid of female riders outside a British Championship or Commonwealth Games event. The 50-plus rider entries made for a great spectacle early in the race as the field stayed very much together in the early laps with Brogan doing much of the work and policing of the bunch.

Winning ways for Charlene Joiner


With no one rider seeming to want to make the break from the bunch, the speed was continually wound up tourniquet style until the top heavy group started to haemorrhage as the final five lap board was shown. The still compact group chopped down the laps, and it would be a final corner scramble to decide the winner. All hell did break lose with the final surge to the line though, with Roe, Borthwick and Brogan coming down hard, thankfully none with significant injury. This left Joiner firmly in the driving seat to blast the win from Project 51 rider Flora Gillies and the impressive Ellen McDermott (Watt Cycles) making up the podium trio.

Result:
1 Charline Joiner - Team WNT
2 Flora Gillies - Project 51
3 Ellen McDermott - Team WattCycle
4 Claire Martin - Team 22
5 Lorna Ferguson - Glasgow Green Cycle Club
6 Natalie Milne
7 Ashleigh Fraser - Deeside Thistle CC
8 Lyndsey Carson - Team Thomsons Cycles
9 Katherine Gallagher - Dundee Thistle RC
10 Laura Nicolson - Moray Firth Cycling Club

Women's race starting the wind-up...


The traditional handlebar biting class of 4th Category races certainly took a step up with two separate races to quench the thirst of a hugely popular category of racing. The racing itself was surprisingly well behaved and in both events large bunch group riding was the order of the day. Both races would come down to who was best placed in the final laps with Race 1 winner Douglas Ferguson fending off a glut of chasers to hit the line in numero uno position. Race 2 proved to be more of the same with Glasgow Green rider Richard Warnock coming out top of the heap in the very well supported class.

The phenomenon that is Craig Hardie; riders champing at the bit before the 4th Cat Race 1


Results:
1 Douglas Ferguson - Unattached
2 Paul Sharp - www.Hardie-Bikes.com
3 Stephen Collins - Pedal Power RT
4 Sean Stead - Glasgow Nightingale CC
5 Fraser Knox - Glasgow Cycle Team
6 Chris Barr - RC Cumbernauld & Kilsyth
7 Neil Muir - Royal Albert CC
8 Paul Nunn - RC Cumbernauld & Kilsyth
9 James Watson - Edinburgh RC
10 Drew Jardine - Royal Albert CC

4th Cat Race 2
1 Richard Warnock - Glasgow Green Cycle Club
2 Steven Bunting - Aberdeen Wheelers CC
3 Euan Smith - Edinburgh RC
4 Ruairi O'Driscoll - Edinburgh University CC
5 Adrian Wallis - www.Hardie-Bikes.com
6 Karl Povey - Glasgow Nightingale CC
7 Iain McTavish - Johnstone Wheelers Cycling Club
8 Colin Jagla - Pedal Power RT
9 Graeme Docherty Walthew - Stirling Bike Club
10 Fraser Knox - Glasgow Cycle Team

Our intrepid reporter, JMC anxiously awaits the start of his race


With a myriad of Youth races spread throughout the early part of the programme, and in fact braving the worst of the temperatures, there were some stand-out rides during the early part of the day, none more so than the Youth A event, which saw a strong group hold together for the 30 minute race. Again, with the nature of the circuit lending itself to close racing, it would be a final charge for the line to sort out who would be podium-bound and who would be a wheel-width away. For the record Joe Nally (Hardie Bikes) made a final push for the line to take the narrowest of wins from Stephen Dent (Nevis Cycles) with Lewis Stewart (Glasgow Riderz) in third.

Result:
1 Joseph Nally - www.Hardie-Bikes.com
2 Stephen Dent - Nevis Cycles Racing Team
3 Lewis Stewart - Glasgow Riderz
4 Alexander MacRae - Glasgow Riderz
5 Richie Allen Achieve - Northside/Skinnergate
6 Danny Mulholland - Johnstone Wheelers Cycling Club
7 Innes Johnston - Glasgow Riderz
8 Jonathon Hilbourne - Glasgow Riderz
9 Elliot Reed - Salt Ayre Cog Set
10 Calum Shackley - Glasgow Riderz

In amongst the boys though it's worthy of note that Stirling's Rhona Callander scored a popular local win coming out top girl in the class.

With so many classes run concurrently in the Youth events, it is always appropriate to acknowledge the efforts of a strong vein of talent that is coming through in Scottish cycling, and here are some of the youngsters who made a mark on the Campus course over the course of the day's proceedings.

Results:

Youth E
1 Rory Macnair - Stirling Bike Club
2 Neal McShane - Royal Albert CC
3 Gregor Burn - West Lothian Clarion CC

Youth D
1 Finn Mason - West Lothian Clarion CC
2 Alexander Crombie - West Lothian Clarion CC
3 Oliver Kelly - Johnstone Wheelers Cycling Club
GIRLS
1 Isla McCutcheon - Johnstone Wheelers Cycling Club
2 Heather Howie
3 Martha Cooper - Carnegie Cyclones

Youth C
1 Fraser Gault - Ythan CC
2 Murray Lawson - Edinburgh RC
3 Keir Roberts - East Kilbride Road Club
GIRLS
1 Imani Pereira-James - Glasgow Riderz
2 Skye Donnelly - Glasgow Riderz
3 Morven Yeoman - East Kilbride Road Club

Youth B
1 Alfred George - Discovery Junior Cycling Club
2 Jack Cruden - Glasgow Riderz
3 Hamish MacLaren - Johnstone Wheelers Cycling Club
GIRLS
1 Abby Stewart - Glasgow Riderz
2 Eva Barnet - Edinburgh RC
3 Estelle Fuller - Edinburgh RC

For full results of every class including lap times and full race positions the information is available here in the news section of the Stirling Bike Clubs Site. http://www.stirlingbikeclub.org.uk/

Fast racing on a tight, twisting circuit that doesn't let up for a minute 


The Pressroom would like to thank Andrew Wilson, Sam Shaw and the Stirling club for assistance in compiling the report and availing themselves on the day. It is also worthy of note that these events do not happen without a huge amount of goodwill and assistance from the marshalls, sign on and volunteers that are truly the backbone of events such as these. Cycling in Scotland is going through a boom time with the format of closed roads events, and participation levels auger well for future events.

Beautiful setting for a race, with the Ochils in the background


Now would it not be nice to have an actual series that could run at different locations with willing councils, clubs and campus venues?

It certainly is food for thought.

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Frasers to the Fore in Munlochy

Women’s Scottish National RR Series
Round 2 – Munlochy

words: Ashleigh Fraser
pics: Andrew Innes



Determination as Ashleigh outsprints Chloe to take the victory in Munlochy


Last Sunday saw the second round of the Women’s Scottish Road Race Series, organised by Moray Firth CC and Dales Cycles, held in a very cold and windy Munlochy. Thirty-two girls from all over Scotland signed on to race 5 laps of the 8.6mile circuit. Due to the windy conditions and nature of the course, positioning in the bunch and tactics were going to play a very important role in this race but everyone seemed excited, smiley and up for the challenge on the start line.

Staying out of the wind was the order of the day


After the neutralised sections, which led us out of the village of Munlochy, Chloe Fraser from Team Rytger was up front and set a steady pace. Riders from Deeside Thistle CC and Moray Firth CC were also in the mix and before long a small group of two riders made a breakaway. They managed to get a decent gap but were swiftly chased down by the main bunch.

There were several breakaway attempts during the race, however it wasn’t until Chloe Fraser attacked on the final ascent through Munlochy that a breakaway managed to stick. Six other girls including myself chased down the attack and managed to work together to stay away from the main bunch until the finish. Coming round into the final straight the pace really picked up and I managed to get myself into a good position, protecting myself behind the bunch from the strong cross winds. Rounding the final corner I moved my way to the front of group and after a exhilarating bunch sprint I was super happy to take the win.

l to r: Peggy Series (Team Thomsons Cycles) took the Vets win; top team Deeside Thistle with Ashleigh, Emily Middleditch and Amanda Tweedie


Well done to Chloe Fraser who took second and Emily Middleditch from Deeside Thistle CC who took third! Chloe also managed to bag the Queen Of The Mountains prize and Lulu Bartlett took first Junior! I am also really happy to announce that Emily Middleditch, Amanda Tweedie and myself managed to win the Team Prize. Go Deeside Thistle!!

A resigned Chloe Fraser watches Ashleigh take the win on this occasion


Also massive thanks to Moray Firth CC, Dales Cycles and Scottish Cycling for organising the race and supporting the Women’s Scottish Road Race Series. These events would not be possible without your backing. I can’t wait for the next one!

Race organiser Laura Nicolson from host club Moray Firth CC grits her teeth and finishes high up the order
Stay tuned for Ashleigh next report and a look back at Round 1 from Fenwick by Peggy Series.

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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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