Scottish National 25 Mile TT Championships

words and photos: Mark McGhee

It’s a measure of the quality of Scottish time-trialling at the moment that the rider who came second in yesterday’s National 25 came home in a time of 52:25, a great time by anyone’s standards. But by doing so he only managed to cross the finish line 21 seconds ahead of the man who had started 2 minutes behind him. If you have to come second to anyone though then you couldn’t choose a better opponent than Iain Grant (

Iain Grant smoothly negotiates the first roundabout 

In a quality field that included most of the current standout time triallists in Scotland, Iain Grant stands head and shoulders above his competitors, and everyone knew he was the man to beat. Having scorched the 10 Mile National title a few weeks before, he was in relaxed but determined fashion as he took on yesterday’s event based on the popular Irvine course and organised by Ayr Roads CC.

Here’s how it played out.

Best of the Weather

On a day where intermittent showers had been forecast, the black rain clouds threatened at times but managed to skirt the race route for almost the entire time of the event. The early starters though definitely saw the best conditions with bright sunshine and a light southerly wind.

Thomas Deas (Moray Firth CC) was the first rider to head out

First rider to take to the course was Thomas Deas (Moray Firth CC) and he was to return in just under the hour in 59:39 followed 20 seconds later by the rider who had started three minutes after him and was to pick up second spot on the day, Sean Noon (Edinburgh RC). His time of 56:59 was looking good, but only for about a minute and a half as the last starter, Andy Brown (Glasgow Cycle Team) finished in a superb 56:03 to take the title. This was an excellent time and would go on to eclipse many of the senior riders later in the day.

Andy Brown (Glasgow Cycle Team) took the Junior title

First woman away was Scottish Cycling’s own RDO Fiona Walker (Walkers CC) and she was followed by Laura Nicolson (Moray Firth CC). Nicolson was to post the best time of the early starting women but it was the fifth woman away from the starter, Anna Turvey (Tyneside Vagabonds CC), who really showed everyone a clean set of cleats as she passed all four of the women who had started ahead of her to return in a time of 56:11. This put her into first place but with some fast women still to finish.

Amanda Dundas (Paisley Velo RT) rode with the senior women and took the Female Junior title

Along the way, Paisley Velo RT’s Amanda Dundas returned in 1:12:25 to take the Junior title and special mention to Emily Middleditch (Deeside Thistle CC) who came home in a time of 1:03:41 despite going off course at the first roundabout, an error that was to be repeated by several other riders throughout the day. It wasn’t a problem with signage which was more than up to the job but rather one of a roundabout with two exits almost all the way around to the right. Concentrating on the ride, especially just after the start, meant that some riders took the Paper-mill turnoff and while most noticed almost straight away, at least two headed off up the road only to return having been passed by riders starting behind them.

Toni McIntosh (Ayr Roads CC) and Sian Tovey ( took silver and bronze

Now it was the turn of the ceded women and Lynne Wardrop (Ayr Roads CC) came home in 1:01:59. Sian Tovey ( posted 1:01:02 and was followed in a minute and a half later by Toni McIntosh (Ayr Roads CC) in 1:00:29. This put McIntosh and Tovey into provisional 2nd and 3rd spots with only the last starting Lynsey Curran ( to finish. However this was the way the standings stayed as word reached us that Curran had been unlucky and punctured and her race was over.

Lynsey Curran ( punctured out on course

So the title went to Anna Turvey with Toni McIntosh and Sian Tovey picking up silver and bronze. Ayr Roads CC took the team prize.

Deserved winner Anna Turvey (Tyneside Vagabonds CC) took the title in 56:11

Changing Conditions

Now it was the turn of the men and the weather had begun to cloud over with the breeze picking up a little. First rider away was Euan Pope (Glasgow Road Club) who was also the first rider to get inside the hour with 58:07. Rider times then hovered between 58’s and 1:01’s for the next hour until Gary Robson (Gala CC) took it down to 55:53, followed in short order by Ronnie Todd (Louden RC) in 55:29 and Lauri Peil (Edinburgh RC) in 56:00.

Alan Holmes (Johnstone Wheelers CC) was the early pacesetter

For the next 30 minutes, times began to slowly fall but it wasn’t until Alan Holmes (Johnstone Wheelers CC) finished in 53:52 that the timing sheet began to light up. Holmes’s time was enough to keep him in first spot until Chris Smart (Paisley Velo RT) finished and was good enough for 8th position overall. The winner of the Jason MacIntyre Memorial 10 this year, Smart finished in 52:50 to take the bronze medal overall.

Bronze medallist Chris Smart (Paisley Velo RT)

Now we were into the favourites and as the 10th from last man Steven Lawley (Rigmar Racers) set off the first shower hit but it was gone almost before it began. The wind was gusting by now and was difficult on the outward leg and the final run to the line. As the defending champion took the first roundabout he was looking, as ever, smooth and quietly determined. Grant always looks rock solid in his position and this belies the fact that he’s moving at speed.

Sharp Showers

It was over to the finish line now to watch the last riders coming in and this is when the rain started. It didn’t last for long but was enough to dampen the roads. Humidity was high so as the shower eased into light drizzle the water began to evaporate almost as it was falling. The timekeepers were keeping dry under the overhanging bushes, as were the photographers and riders who had already finished but had come to cheer in their teammates.

Ben Peacock (Paisley Velo RT) and Silas Goldsworthy (Sandy Wallace Cycles)

Alan Thomson (Sandy Wallace Cycles) was next to finish after Smart and posted a time of 53:17 which was good enough for 6th spot overall. Then it was Ben Peacock (Paisley Velo RT) who crossed the line in 53:48. The jury is still out on whether his flourishing facial hair is proving to be more or less aerodynamic but he took 7th position overall.

Arthur Doyle ( took fourth spot overall

As we’ve said before Arthur Doyle ( is a big guy and seems to fold himself around his bike but he finished smoothly, gasping for air, to post 52:52 and take 4th spot on the day. Next home was Silas Goldsworthy (Sandy Wallace Cycles) who appears to be liking riding his bike again after the recent disappointment of not gaining selection for the Commonwealth Games and he even ‘buzzed’ a couple of the roadside photographers…not that they were complaining as it gave them great photographs. He finished in a time of 53:10 to take 5th overall.

Peter Murdoch (Paisley Velo RT) gives it everything as he crosses the line to take silver

Now it was down to the last two men and as Peter Murdoch (Paisley Velo RT) approached the finish line he could be heard shouting at himself to release as much energy as he possibly could. He flashed past the line in 52:25 but it seemed that the photographers just had time to turn around as Grant was already on the bridge over the River Irvine and heading for the line. Leaving everything on the road he passed the timekeeper in 50:46 and was then seen to weave about on the road while he collected himself. This could have been because of the effort he’d expelled or because he was trying to stop his computer but we like to think it was the former.

Iain Grant ( powers across the line to make it three-in-a-row

These times gave Grant and Murdoch Gold and Silver on the day and, as ever, Iain Grant was a popular winner back in the Event Headquarters for prize giving.

The team prize went to with Thomas Gordon combining with Grant and Doyle.

Full pictures to be found on our Facebook page:

Read more »

'Cross Diva to Road Race Novice; No Going Back Now

words: Morven Brown

photos: Mark McGhee

Morven Brown discovers there’s more to bike racing than mud and knobbly tyres: from Cyclingcross Diva to Road Racing novice, the learning curve has been huge but she’s discovered that she’s more than just suited to it: she loves it!

Morven and road bikes; the road ahead?

I’ll be honest with you – if you cut my arm off, my blood would run as mud, such is my love of mountain biking and knobbly tyres. My road bike is a means of transport, I view it in a similar way that others might view their car, or a train, or a bus. Put simply, it’s a method of getting from A to B, a fun one at that, but nothing more than a transport option. It’s not that I disagree with the concept of road racing, or riding on the roads for ‘fun’, it’s just not something that I’d ever been into.

I got my first road bike in 2005; I was on the Scottish Youth Talent programme and a requirement was training on the road and road bikes at training camps. So we picked up a reasonable road bike second hand from a chap at my dad’s work. I knew very little about road bikes at the time, with their drop bars, skinny tyres and funny geometry, and the resulting bike was too big, uncomfortable and lay neglected in the garage for years. It got me around to commute, but it was never ‘the choice’ of bike for a Sunday morning saunter. Buying the female-specific cyclocross bike in 2011 was something of a revelation. All of a sudden I had a bike which made road riding possible – with ‘cross knobbly tryes on, obviously! My road miles upped as I commuted to work, and occasionally went out with friends on a road ride. The mountain bike was still the first choice steed, and the thought of putting skinny tyres on the ‘cross bike sent me reeling!

Peigi Seriés (ERC) drives the bunch; one lap in the bag, seven to go

This year, however, that has all changed. I’ve been on a self-styled ‘Operation: Give Something Back.’ It’s essentially a cheesy way of saying that this year I am now coaching others instead of training myself, and I am organising events rather than competing in them. By happy conincidence, this year Scottish Cycling and Dales Cycles (my two vested interests) have launched the Scottish Women’s Road Race Series. Having been a racing cyclist for over a decade now and a female…well, all my life!.. I know as well as anyone the challenges faced by female cyclists to find events that you can feel equal in, or that you know you’ll get a reasonable entry field and a good chance of wheel to wheel racing. I’m not necessarily a fan of the ‘use it or lose it’ mantra, however, I do feel some responsibility to ensure that events are well attended. What’s more, when the challenge was put to me at work that I should do a road race, I wouldn’t want to be chicken now, would I?

Like ripping off a plaster, the night of the launch I entered the first round of the series in Glasgow; if I didn’t do it then I knew I never would. The month that followed was a crash-course in things not to do in a road race. I had never really ridden in a group previously, save for one chain-gang. To put it politely, I was absolutely terrified about that! I attended a women’s road race training day and picked up lots of tips, and asked a lot of daft questions! I quickly learnt that in a road race, you don’t really stop to change a puncture, there was this bizarre concept of a neutralised start, there would be cars and what-not on the road too, and, if you’re going to crash, it’s going to hurt!! I worked with friends who taught me how to go around corners on the drops – a totally alien feeling to me. And, in the biggest change of all, I even put the dreaded skinny roadie tyres on the bike.

Peloton cornering; new skills learned

In the weeks leading up to the race, I managed to get a few pre-rides out around the course. It was a five mile loop, of which we would be doing eight laps. In essence it was pretty flat, with a few short slants before and after the two roundabouts around which it circulated. The surface was good, there was one lumpy section I knew I had to avoid, and other than that it would be a case of hanging on and not sliding out on a roundabout.

Eventually race day rolled around and it was a good mixture of excitement and nerves. It had been over five months since my last race of any sort, so getting myself into race mode was quite challenging and I certainly over-packed my race bag to compensate! At the race HQ, almost 40 girls got themselves organised – some of the semi-pro girls on rollers and turbos; some, like me, going for a wee spin on the roads, and others just laughing with friends. Racing in Scotland truly is such a social occasion, there are no prima-donnas or egos. It’s a bunch of girls, meeting up with friends and having fun on their bikes, with a little bit of serious racing thrown in! As I got prepped to head down to the start my friend Sophie (who had dared me to do the race in the first place) gave me three bits of advice: “Don’t stop pedalling, don’t forget to use your drops and have fun!”

Close cornering with Anne Ewing (

After the six-mile ride down to the start line, we stood and listened to the rider briefing. I was now petrified!! The ride to the start had been lovely and leisurely, and my first experience of bunch riding at that! We all massed together by the start line, and headed off down the road during the neutralised start. Which went on and on and on… Rounding the first roundabout I turned to my friend beside me, “So when does the race start, is it after the first lap do you think?” “Em, Morven, it has started, this is the race!” So I had officially started my first ever road race! With a whoop I had a little wobble, and quickly learnt Road Riding 101: always, always pay attention to where you are going! I was enjoying myself, it wasn’t raining and I found myself about to stick with the bunch.

The attacks came quick and fast at the front with Rebecca Nixon of Deeside Thistle CC challenging on every slight climb. The pace rose and fell as riders pushed then eased back. I hadn’t been sure what to expect, but I stuck in the middle of the pack, trying to keep myself out of any trouble and doing my best to watch the front for the next surge in pace. I felt good, I could keep up with the big guns, and even had the energy to stick my tongue out at my friends in the timing tent as I passed! As we came around on our second lap, the ‘big’ names made a move from the back of the bunch, where they had been conserving energy, to take charge at the head of the race.

Sticking with the bunch as they make their first pass

Mid-way round the third lap it felt very quiet, too quiet. I snuck a quick peek over my shoulder and almost fell off my bike in fright – we had dropped almost half the pack, and I was now sat at the back of the bunch! A lack of experience led to a wee panic as I didn’t know what to do in that situation – did I push towards the middle of the pack, charge to the front, or just conserve energy and await the inevitable.

The race leaders rounding the turn at the northern end of the circuit

Swinging wide around the top roundabout, the elastic snapped, I missed the break at the front as the attack caught me unawares, and as a result I missed the second group, which contained the girls that before the race I had been hoping to stick with. Damn, damn, damn. I’d been told repeatedly that on the roads, you did not, under any circumstances, want to end up riding on your own. And here I was, on my own out the back of the bunch, with little clue of how to ride a road race. What’s more, just at that point the heavens opened.

Chasing hard before linking up in a useful trio

The rain was like heavy bullets, hammering down, causing spray and soaking riders to our skin. Given the conditions, it would not have been surprising to see riders pulling out or easing up – to their credit, almost all riders finished and even picked up the pace as the rain fell. Why was I considering road racing as something so special, so unique, so different? It was, afterall, racing. And racing is what I do. I put my head down and powered on, even if I couldn’t catch the girls in front of me, I was determined not to let the girls behind pass me. By my ropey calculations I had hoped at that point that I may be top-30, and I would definitely take that. I kept my pace up and whizzed through puddles, with drops falling from my pigtails. Looking up I saw a lone rider, Carole Dick (Stirling BC) dropped from the bunch, and knew if we worked together we would be stronger. Catching up, we started taking turns, picking up the pace some more. As we picked up triathlete Donna McHugh (Fusion Triathlon), we had a strong unit of three, and powered on through the laps, though never quite closing the gap to the second group on the road ahead of us.

Learning to handle different kinds of obstacles in road-racing

Two laps to go and I was physically exhausted. Not having raced for months I had lost that top-end speed and was perhaps paying for sticking with the bunch for so long. I sucked down a gel and took a stiff dose of ‘Man-Up.’ It was time to dig in to the finish. Whirling around the bottom roundabout for the last time, my green-ness to road racing showed again. I had done some sprint training – I knew I could sprint for 200m... that was without 36 miles in my legs though! Leading my wee group of three up the climb from the roundabout, all the speed just fell out my legs. Swinging past me, the other two girls made their push to the finish, leaving me to drag myself across the line. I finished totally spent but thrilled. I could update that status in my head from ‘I have started a road race’ to ‘I have finished a road race.'

Race winner Dani Christmas (Speg-Project 51) leads the sprint for the line

As we laughed and spun our legs back up to the race HQ it was a great chance to catch up with the other girls who had been racing. I was astonished to hear how early some riders had been dropped, ones that I thought were pretty fit too; perhaps I hadn’t done too badly then. It was a great opportunity to congratulate the other girls on their exploits and discuss just how slippery those roundabouts got when it rained!

Another new and exciting concept of road racing for me is the post-race sandwiches and teas, which, people tell me, are essentially mandatory. I was thrilled to discover at this event that it was Pakora and Lorne Sausage baps – feed me and I’m a happy lassie! Settling down and checking out the results, I turned to Sophie in disbelief, “Did we do enough laps? Are you sure? We really did eight laps?” I had figured it would be a two-hour race, at the very least. I was finished in 1 hour 36 minutes, a little over 5 minutes behind the winners, having averaged a speed of 23mph for the race. And, even more astonishingly, I had finished in 20th place!

Elated to have completed my first road race!

In less than a month, I have gone from being a complete and utter novice on the road, having never even considered entering a road event, to performing reasonably well, if I do say so myself, in a National standard event. I was riding on an alloy cyclo-cross bike, using mountain bike shoes and pedals, with a 46 as my biggest front gear ring. I was about as unprepared as they come; however, at the end of the day, it’s racing. As long as you’re going forward, and you’re going as fast as you can, you’ll get to that finish line one way or another.

Now that I’ve entered the third round of the series, perhaps I had better kit myself out…

Check out the race gallery on our Facebook page:

Read more »

Scottish National 10 Mile TT

Words and photos: Mark McGhee

Summer came early this year with some nice days in April but it was back to usual conditions for the Scottish National 10 Mile Time Trial Championships at Irvine. The times were fast though and the performances impressive.

The fastest 10 mile TT course in Scotland? The new Champion thinks so

As I headed towards Irvine for the start of the Scottish National 10 Mile Time Trial Champs I was keeping a wary eye on the lowering cloud base, in the hope that I might get one of those all-too-rare windows of opportunity. I just wanted a couple of hours, three at the most, but the tv weather forecaster hadn't been confident…and neither was I.

Jason Barnes (Glasgow Nightingale CC)

Coming through Dalry and Kilwinning the roads were wet but it wasn't actually raining. There was no sign of any blue in the sky though. Sure enough, just after pulling into the car-park at Eglinton Country Park, and heading over to the sign-on desk to get a copy of the start sheet, the big drops began to fall again…not too heavy at first but that kind of rain that you just know is going to continue. So, waterproofs on and cameras wrapped in rain gear, I headed off to the start where the timekeepers were just getting ready to send the first woman on her way.

Sian Tovey ( took 5th spot in the Women's race

As a photographer taking pictures on an out-and-back course, especially when it involves separate on and off-ramps, and with 160 riders to cater for, the challenge is always to find new, interesting and varied ways of taking those shots…or else you just end up with 160 copies of the same photograph where only the rider is different. So I shot some at the start, first roundabout, first on-ramp, on further down where the carriageway splits, and on up to the first flyover. Most of the shots are on that first on-ramp because once the last man has gone it allows me to get across to the off-ramp on the other side to catch the riders once they've finished.

David Johnston (Gala CC)

I've shot there before (the season-opening Icebreaker TT) and it's a great place to see the relief on the riders' faces, knowing that the effort is over. Last time there was chatting, laughing and the beginnings of analyses of the ride. But yesterday was very different. It was indeed the race of truth, with nowhere to hide and the competitors that I saw had given their all. Most people will know the man that ran out the victor yesterday and you'll know that Iain Grant is the most approachable rider, always happy to say hello and have a chat, always ready with encouragement for other riders no matter what level they're at. He always makes a point of acknowledging me but as he passed me yesterday I don't think he was even aware I was there such was the effort that he'd given. The sweat was pouring from under his aero helmet and running off the end of his nose.

Craig McGowan (Pedal Power RT)

He wasn't the only one who had pushed to their limit: Arthur Doyle wiped saliva from around his mouth but still managed to give me a wave, Gordon Murdoch stopped halfway up the ramp to take a breather, the Berwick Wheelers duo of Christopher Isats and Harry Armstrong didn't look over and Alan Thomson could do no more than stick his tongue out at me. I respect all of these riders but my personal empathy was with Silas Goldsworthy. Most of you will know that Silas had a bad injury a short time ago and while he's largely recovered from that, he's lost valuable training in the meantime. All credit to him for turning out yesterday and although his time of 20:17 was good enough for 5th place on the day it wasn't the result he was looking for.

Silas Goldsworthy (Sandy Wallace Cycles) gave it everything and took 5th spot in a time most other riders can only wish for

Now, the Scottish cycling community may appear like a closed shop to those who aren't cyclists but that just isn't the case…and all of these riders, while being fiercely competitive, are also very friendly towards each other. Silas is his own hardest critic and he stopped just after he'd passed me to take a moment. A bit of time to think about all the hard work he's put in over the years and how the injury may have happened at the worst possible moment. The last man to finish was Ben Peacock and he sportingly stopped to console Silas. At that point I headed back to event HQ to find out how everyone had got on. Here's how it played out.

Scottish 10 Mile TT Champion Lucy Coldwell (Velosport - Pasta Montegrappa)

The first 75% of the field got the worst of the weather with the Women, Juniors and Youths setting off into light rain and drizzle. While riding in the rain can often feel faster, especially when there's no real wind, there are drawbacks and lots of bikes were sporting rear flashing lights as they disappeared into the dual carriageway spray long before they would normally have been out of sight.

Silver medallist Lynsey Curran (

In the Women's race the quickest of the early starters was Toni McIntosh (Ayr Roads CC) who returned to the timekeeper in 23:36 and this was good enough for 4th place on the day. The next rider to come close was Jennie McColl (Aberdeen Wheelers CC) in a time of 24:36 (8th on the day) but this was beaten a few minutes later by Anne Ewing (WV Breda) in 24:26. Less than two minutes later, one minute 59 seconds to be precise, Lynne Wardrop (Ayr Roads CC) came home in a time of 24:25. This gave Wardrop and Ewing 6th and 7th spot when all was said and done.

Anda-Jay Burgess (Rock and Road Cycles) took third spot

The next rider to set the time sheet alight was the eventual winner Lucy Coldwell riding in her Velosport - Pasta Montegrappa kit who came home in a super time of 22:30. A few minutes later she was joined on the stat sheets by Lynsey Curran ( who posted a time of 22:47 which was good enough for overall second. This just left her teammate Sian Tovey and the last woman off Anda-Jay Burgess of Rock and Road Cycles. Tovey returned in a time of 23:38 to eventually take 5th overall and Burgess managed 23:10 to finish third. Top times in trying conditions with the team prize going to

Top Youth rider Stuart Turvey (Sandy Wallace Cycles)

Next up, and from a relatively small field, were the Juniors and Youths. Gold in the Juniors event went to Angus Claxton (Moray Firth CC) in a very impressive 22:06 which made up for the long trip south. Best position in the Youths event went to Stuart Turvey (Sandy Wallace Cycles); just inside 24 minutes in a time of 23:59. Certainly names to watch for in the future.

Alastair McGibbon (Ayr Roads CC)

Now it was the turn of the men and it was at this point that the weather, which had eased off a bit, decided to take a turn for the worse. Albert McLellan (Glasgow Couriers) headed out in determined fashion (the marshal next to me said "I take it that's the end of the Youth event then") but he was quickly followed by Alastair McGibbon (Ayr Roads CC) who was looking more determined than I've seen him. He would catch McLellan, the former 12 Hour and Hill Climb champ before the turn but an impressive performance from the veteran rider nonetheless.

Jocky Johnstone (Icarus Racing)

First rider to come home in under 22 minutes was the 5th man off, Sean Gray ( who posted 21:49. He wasn't alone in that from the first 50 riders there were 14 who made it in under 22. By this time the weather was beginning to ease once again and by the time that another 25 riders had passed me the roads were virtually dry. Traffic had increased a bit but on a course like this that's more often a benefit than a hindrance.

Billy McFarlane (

With just over half the field still to ride we had our first sub 21 ride and once again it came from Dooleys Race Team with Nick Tryon coming home in 20:20. This held top spot for almost an hour and a quarter and was good enough to see Tryon as part of the winning team.

Nick Tryon (

Eventually it came down, as it always does, to the men who have consistently proved themselves against the clock and the first rider to better Tryon's time was Chris Smart (Paisley Velo RT) the recent winner of the Jason MacIntyre Memorial TT who finished in 20:16. Alan Thomson (Sandy Wallace Cycles) came close in 20:41 as did the Berwick Wheelers duo of Christopher Isats and Harry Armstrong who recorded 21:04 and 20:59 respectively.

Winner of the recent Jason MacIntyre Memorial TT, Chris Smart (Paisley Velo RT) who was 4th 

It was all down to the last four riders and as they headed out onto the first section of dual carriageway they were all looking super-fit. Arthur Doyle ( is a big guy but he still manages to adopt a very aero position on his Cervelo and wearing an all black Assos skin suit he really looked like he meant business. Next up was Iain Grant ( who always has a very focussed look but a seemingly stress-free pedalling style. Then Silas Goldsworthy (Sandy Wallace Cycles) who outwardly looked as if he'd completed recovered from his recent injury. Last man up was defending champion Ben Peacock (Paisley Velo RT) who looked almost relaxed as he fired down towards the main carriageway.

Silver medallist Arthur Doyle (

Not having a clock on the riders I headed round to the off-ramp and picked them up as they finished. Arthur Doyle looked like a rider that had given pretty much everything. It was difficult to call between him and Iain Grant and Grant passed me in what felt like two minutes later but I then had to wait a little longer before I saw Goldsworthy and as he stopped at the side of the road it was definately not another two minutes before Peacock rolled up beside him.

Defending Champion Ben Peacock (Paisley Velo RT) who clocked 19:59 to finish third

By the time I'd reached the event HQ and gotten rid of the wet-weather gear, the times had been just about confirmed; Iain Grant had retaken the title in a time of 19:40 followed by Arthur Doyle in 19:55 with Ben Peacock at 19:59. Chris Smart took fourth spot in 20:16 and Silas Goldsworthy finished fifth in 20:17. Dooleys Cycles took the Men's Team prize (Grant, Doyle and Tryon) to add to that of the Women's so all-in-all an excellent day for the club from Paisley.

Men's Podium Winners (l to r): Ben Peacock (3rd), Arthur Doyle (2nd) and Champion Iain Grant

Once again, another excellent event organised on what the new champion believes to be the fastest 10 course in Scotland. The team at Glasgow Couriers put on a top event and the inclusion of a coffee tent at the start courtesy of Cafe2U was a nice idea.

Scottish 10 Mile TT Champion Iain Grant (
Full gallery of photographs will be available on our Facebook page where we'll also post the complete standings.

Read more »

SXC Series Round 2: Cathkin Braes

Riders Turn Out in Challenging Conditions to Test Themselves Ahead of Commonwealth Games 2014

words: Morven Brown
photos: Alastair Ross

On the 27th of July 2014, international teams with coaches, managers and some of the top riders in the world will arrive at Cathkin Braes to take part in the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Just a few miles out of the city centre the riders will face a course that is challenging and thrilling in equal measures. Fortunately for the locals, Cathkin is not reserved simply for the world’s elite, and the last major event before the Commonwealth Games took place on the same course last weekend. The second round of the Scottish Cross Country (SXC) Series rolled into town, following a bright first round at Forfar a few weeks previously.

With over 140 riders pre-entered, and many more set to arrive on the day, the stage was set for a true spectacle of racing as riders tested themselves on one of the greatest cross country race courses in Scotland. On a wild weekend of weather it was a true testament to the riders’ determination, as the early part of the day saw winds gusting up to 40mph, coupled with torrential rain in the afternoon.

The racetrack itself was the full Commonwealth Games race course and, after a few years in existence, certain lines have started to erode and bed in, work which will be done before the Games. Setting off along the fast, wide start it was a blast along to Propeller Point, a large rocky drop with two large step-downs. Duking through the crossover tunnel and holding on tight for a few more rocky descents, the racers arrived at the highlight of the course: Dual Descent. Two separate lines with berms, step-downs, jumps and rock gardens. Reaching the bottom at Castlemilk, wrists and arms shaking with exertion, it’s time to climb again, all the way up the Clyde climb to the mast point and two extremely technical drops – and the section of the course which saw the most injuries. From there, it’s a rollercoaster of twists and turns through the trees all the way down to the daunting Brig O’Doom, and an uphill sprint to the line to start the next lap.

With the support of Dales Cycles, the event arena had a buzz throughout the day, even when the weather turned cold with rain and wind. With professional masseuses on hand for post-race sports recovery massages, the Grange Kitchen providing their usual excellent range of sustenance and the Dales Cycles team mechanic offering repairs, the event village was the place to be for the day. As the race also incorporated the Scottish Student Sport Championships, the field was bolstered with students and their friends cheering loudly from the sidelines.

On a day when even the most hardy of souls would rather stay indoors on the sofa in front of the television, it was inspirational to see so many racers of all ages battle through the weather and the challenging courses to take part in the event. The spectators and photographers, who kept cheering even when getting blown away, lifted sprits and the marshals who stood in the rain until all riders had completed the course were a highlight of the day.

Here’s how the action unfolded across all the races…

Morning Races

The morning race saw the oldest and the youngest riders to take on the full course set off. With an extra lap added to most categories to compensate for the short course, pacing and endurance came into play. The first race result came in the Juvenile Boys, with most riders relishing the opportunity to complete two laps of the course. Riding a strong and controlled race, Tim Shoreman (Deeside Thistle CC) took the victory, improving from his second place at Forfar. Less than 20 seconds later, Tam Munro-White (Ben Wyvis CC) came home in second with Jamie Johnston (Thomsons Cycles) in third. Riding for Peebles CC, Anna McGorum narrowly pipped Emily Field (Stirling Bike Club) to the win in the Juvenile Girls race, with less than a minute separating the riders after 42 minutes of racing.
The Youth Boys were challenged to four laps of the course, and put on an exciting event for spectators, with a group of three boys riding clear of the chasing pack. Conner Johnstone (Team Leslie Bikeshop), Finn Crockett (Ben Wyvis CC) and their Northern Irish compatriot, Cameron McIntyre from Bambridge CC knew a place on the podium was guaranteed if they maintained their pace and composure. At the start of the final lap the boys were still together and a sprint finish looked likely, however after over an hour of racing, Johnstone arrived back at the arena alone to take a clear victory. Crockett arrived 16 seconds later for second place with McIntyre a few minutes down in third. Johnstone’s victory was made all the more incredible, with his final lap being the quickest of the morning races, completed in 15:59! Ben Wyvis CC rider Ella Conolly rode strongly throughout her three-lap race in the Youth Girls event to finish six minutes clear of her nearest rival, Thomsons Cycles’ Katie Allen. Louisa Watt (Peebles CC) was third placed youth girl.

“My race went really well today, and pretty much exactly to plan. I always want to enjoy my racing, especially on a fun course like Cathkin, but in the back of my mind I knew that I wanted to win it. The Commonwealth Games course is awesome! It’s so fast and it flows really well. I love the rocky drops and the big climb back up to the car park. I was delighted to set the fastest lap of the morning races on my last lap – I didn’t even realise that I was going that fast, I was just trying to control the race and pace myself! The longer race distance really suited me today as I was able to get into my rhythm and warm up my legs and lungs. Riding on the Commonwealth Games course was really inspirational; I follow the successes of Rab Wardell and Kenta Gallagher and hope to be as successful as them one day!” Youth male winner, Conner Johnstone

With a mass start for the women, the younger riders are allowed the opportunity to test their strength and stamina against the top Elites that Scotland has to offer.  Having led out the women’s field at Round 1 at Forfar, junior rider Lucy Grant (Peebles CC) again displayed her power to win the Junior Women’s race with a time that would have seen her claim second spot in the Elite race. Katie Allen (Thomsons Cycles) and Even Hanlon Cole (Peebles CC) put in equally impressive performances and fast times to round off the podium. Marie Meldrum (Nevis Cycles RT) smiled throughout despite the challenging conditions, to take the win in the Master Women’s category. There was an equally smiley victory for Anne Murray (Team Jewson-M.I.Racing-Polypipe) in the Veteran race, as she fended off competition from Kate Whiteside (Ben Wyvis CC) and Louise Allen (Mukyriderz).

In the Elite Women’s race, top Northern Irish rider Claire Oakley (XMTB-McConvey Cycles) led clear of the entire female field to take the race win, completing four laps in 1hour 13minutes. Gillian Pratt (Team Leslie Bikeshop) finished less than 3 minutes down for second place Elite, with first time Elite rider, Katie Carmichael ( in third.

Mark Barnett (Team Leslie Bikeshop) continued his fine run of form as a first year Grand Veteran rider to finish over a minute clear of reigning British Champion, Gregor Grant (Moray First CC). Eamon McConvey (XMTB-McConvey Cycles), having made the long journey across the water from Northern Ireland took third. John Newton, another strong Team Leslie Bikeshop rider took a comprehensive victory in the Super Veteran race ahead of Eddie Gronkowski (Mukyriderz) and Dave McLean (Hetton Hawks CC), who were split by a mere 7 seconds.

The Taster category has been a welcome addition to race day for many riders, creating a ‘fun’ race, allowing new riders the chance to experience mountain bike racing, and more experienced racers to re-find their race legs over a shorter distance. Stirling BC rider Stephen Field raced to first place ahead of Scott Morgan (Manx MBC) and Matthew Ball (West Lothian Clarion CC). Kathryn Scott (St Andrews University CC) took the win in the female taster category.

Under 12’s races

On a shortened version of the full Commonwealth Games course, almost 70 Under 12’s racers set off, in their categories, for fast, fun and supportive racing. Taking on a longer course than usual allowed the kids to challenge themselves and gain confidence at racing further away from the arena and parents. With the Under 12’s course situated just behind the race arena, large crowds of riders, friends and family gathered to support the stars of the future.

First off were the Under 8’s, to complete 10 minutes of racing, which equated to two laps for the older children and one extremely long lap for the younger racers on pedal-less bikes. Gavin Gronkowski, the young star of the Mukyriderz led his race from start to finish, using strength and stamina to complete two fast laps and claim victory for the second round in a row. Gregor Watt (Discovery Junior CC) and Sandy MacKay took it down to a sprint for the remaining podium sports, with Gregor narrowly edging out Sandy by a matter of milliseconds. Gavin’s teammate Helen Graf rode extremely strongly in the Under 8 girls race to finish clear of Heather Wilson and Sarah Aitken.

Zander's flying high...

In the Under 10’s category, Zander Millar-Todd repeated his impressive performance at Forfar, and again took victory by two minutes, even wheelie’ing across the line, much to the delight of the spectators. The remaining two podium spots were less decisive and there were changes throughout the four lap race, with five riders all in contention for a medal. Eventually, Lewis Watt (Discovery Junior CC) rode clear of Fraser Thomson (Glasgow Riderz) in an exciting race. With the top four riders in the Under 10’s girls category all completing the same number of laps as the boys, there were some fast times over the long lap. After 23minutes of racing, Emily Carrick-Anderson (Peebles CC) took an impressive victory; wearing a race jersey bearing the name of top female rider ‘Lucy Grant’ was obviously a good omen for Emily. She finished ahead of the Glasgow Riderz pairing of Skye Donnelly and Kasha Gronowskabutz.

Finally, the Under 12 riders set off and having supported friends and teammates in the earlier races, they had a good idea of the course, and how challenging and fun it would prove. Another stunning solo ride saw Corran Carrick-Anderson match his sister’s result and complete 5 laps in just over 22 minutes. Callum Cooper (Ythan CC) took second spot ahead of Alex Ball (West Lothian Clarion CC). In the Under 12 girl’s race it was a battle of the Peebles CC riders, with Elena McGorum seeing off her teammate Emily Wilkinson and Beth Wilson.

Afternoon races

By now the rain was pouring and the wind was howling, and most riders were probably considering if it was too late to dash back to the car for a second set of arm warmers.

Off on the first gun went the Elite men, with a large field of 17 athletes competing over 6 laps of the Cathkin Braes Commonwealth Games course. Taking an early lead, which at times stretched to almost a minute, it appeared that Rob Friel (Glasgow Wls) was keen to avoid the same sprint finish as at Round 1 at Forfar. Completing the fastest lap of the day, in an impressive 14:27, Friel was riding with control and power to maintain his lead. Gareth Montgomery grew in strength as the race progressed and going into the last lap there was less than 20 seconds between the leading two riders. With baited breath the bedraggled spectators in the arena waited in hope of a sprint to the finish, and a little excitement to warm up cold bodies. However, Friel maintained his pace and despite closing the gap to a mere 3 seconds, Montgomery could not challenge for the sprint. A second win of the series put Friel comfortably in the driving seat in the Series competition. With riders coming from far and wide to experience the Commonwealth Games course, third place went to one of the international racers from the Isle of Man, Elliot Baxter (Manx Viking Whls CC).

The Junior men’s field was blown apart over the first few laps by Thomsons Cycles most southerly-based rider, Jack Ravenscroft, who rode a thrilling race and enjoyed a large margin going into the last lap. However, it was the black, red and yellow of Rockhard Racing MTB’s Pearce Sommerville who won with an impressive last lap, as Ravenscroft ran out of energy. James Edmond, another English visitor from Ferryhill Wheelers CC, was a close second having rode with the leaders for most of the race, and Ravenscroft finished admirably in third place.

In the Sport category, St Andrews University CC member, Seb Stott, claimed top spot ahead of Stuart Dun and Graeme Warren (Velo Club Moulin), with all three podium finishers coming in over 8 minutes ahead of the rest of the field. In a close-fought race, Derek Shanks (Trek Concept Store Glasgow) took his first victory at the SXC in the Masters category, having only made the switch to cross-country racing this year. Having battled back and forth throughout, Scott Logan (The Bicycle Works) eventually passed Velo Sportive’s Sean Clark. With four riders in the top six, Team Leslie Bikeshop showed their specialisation in the Veteran men’s field. Race winner Gary McCrae finished almost four and a half minutes clear of his nearest rival, to compound his Scottish XC and CX Championship titles. Greig Walker (Velo Club Moulin) split the Leslie Bikeshop riders on the podium, with John McCaffery returning to form in third place.

I still can't quite believe it and I don't know how to express how happy I am in words . . . but I'll give it a try! I knew I'd have the "home advantage" at Cathkin as I live near Glasgow and ride at Cathkin every couple of weeks.  I know the track well as it's my closest trail centre and I use it for a lot of my XC training. I got an okay start but not great.  I didn't get clipped in on the first pedal stroke but soon got going and stayed in the top half of the 20 riders in our Masters category heading towards the first corner as the track narrowed from about 6 riders wide to just enough room for two. My pre-race strategy was to use Clyde Climb to my advantage and I soon got up into 3rd place, tucking in behind Sean Clark, with Scott Logan in the lead. We gradually broke away from the rest of the group and this is when I had the realisation that I was in the lead group. I decided it was better to have a go in front and see what it would be like setting the pace.  It's sometimes the only way to find out if you have it in you to pull away.  I managed to get by Sean on one of the climbs on lap 3 but he stayed right on my tail for most of the rest of that lap. As I passed through the feed zone, my wife (bottle swapper / support crew / amazing person who puts up with all this training and racing!) told me she couldn't see him back down the hill and I thought, "could I actually win this?" Eventually I crossed the line.  I couldn't believe it.  My brother was there and I had to check "did I just win?!” It was all worth it, and the win means so much to me.” Master winner, Derek Shanks

You can read Derek’s race report here:

Read more »