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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2017 Begins...

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Big Names for Bo'Ness!

Jeremy Durrin to Race Dig in at the Dock!

After securing both Helen Wyman and Amira Mellor for their race in Bo’ness, the organisers of Dig in at the Dock have now confirmed top US cyclocross pro Jeremy Durrin (Neon Velo) will also be taking the start line at their race on the 19th of February 2017.

Durrin is currently ranked 59th in the UCI World rankings and has been enjoying some great results this season, having taken some podium places in UCI races (denying US National Champion Jeremy Powers a step in the process).

Organisers Dave Hamill and Pete Ward are remaining tight-lipped about the prospect of other big names but said they are confident the front of the race will be competitive.

Hamill explained the background to this latest announcement.
“We want everyone who races at Bo’ness to have a really positive experience. And because so many do, word spreads around about how great it is. In this case, we have Jimmy (James McCallum) to thank. He won the first ever race here and always tries to come along despite his hectic schedule. Jimmy is Jeremy’s coach and has been telling him about our race for some time now. It’s great to hear Jeremy wants to come to the race this season. I just need to try and coax Gaby (Jeremy’s wife) out of retirement now as well!”

Durrin had this to say:
“When I was offered the opportunity to come up to Scotland to do some CX racing in February, I said I will most definitely be there. As an American CX racer, I get to travel all over the US which is great, but coming to Scotland and checking out the CX up there will be a lot of fun. I've heard great things about it and the weather is perfect for some good old fashioned CX throw downs! 
Plus my coach (James McCallum) will be racing and it's always great to show him what’s up and put him in the pain cave, since he does that to me all year long!”

Scotland has a strong cyclocross scene

So will there be further announcements?
“We’re working on a few angles, but have nothing confirmed yet” said Hamill.
“The people who make decisions about the National Trophy calendar won’t award a round to Scotland because they think nobody will make the journey. But really, they are the only people who are disinterested in the scene here and they shouldn’t confuse their desire for an easy life with what’s best for cyclocross. Anyone who comes to Scotland to race knows it’s worth the trip.”

Dig in at the Dock is the final race in the Super Quaich cyclocross series. In just its second season, the popularity of the series has exploded with entries for races selling out within minutes of opening.
To keep up to date on Dig in at the Dock, visit the Facebook page and give it a like.

For more information about cyclocross in Scotland visit

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Cross in the Sunshine

Raleigh SCX1: Callendar Park, Falkirk

words: anthony robson
pics: mark mcghee

Callendar Park in Falkirk is often referred to as the best cyclocross course in Scotland, and who can argue with 600 registered riders? Sunday saw a lineup with 146 riders starting the V40 category alone. When the sun is shining down on competitors and spectators alike, the grounds of the park flowing out from the French chateau-like grand house, it’s easy to dismiss the hard work of Franco Porco and Davie Lines as pure luck. However Scottish cross is making its own luck at the moment, reaping the benefits of the dedication of a number of people.

This was about as perfect a first weekend of Series racing as could have been hoped for. The dry weather in the run-up to the event meant for firm going, with just a slight cutting up in a few exposed areas that had taken on an overnight dew. Elsewhere there was dust being kicked up, and the racing responded by being extremely fast.

The course here has a flow, where even the dead turns feel like a simple and smooth progression, the steep ups and downs being rideable but keeping you honest, the switchbacks keeping your front wheel on the very edge of grip. Transitions between points of interest were just long enough to decide between getting a breather in, or pressing home an advantage, but short enough that you didn't get bored waiting for the rollercoaster to restart.

The paddock in front of the big hoose saw the majority of spectators and riders congregate, and each time passing, hoping your wheels wouldn't give way in the gravel and ping you into the metal railing, the shouts would grow and encourage. And almost all the while the sun beamed down.

As ever it was the youngsters who kicked things off, demonstrating that fearless approach you hope they'll never lose.In the Under 8s Finn Crowther was the cream, with Angus Fraser-Moodie almost a minute behind. First girl home was third in the field, Melanie Rowe bringing it in just a minute and a half off the winner. The Under 12s were somewhat closer, Patrick Barnes just edging out Finlay Taylor (despite posting the same time), with Jamie Thomson and Elliot Rowe pulling off the same trick for 3rd and 4th. Emily Carrick-Anderson (and there's a famous Scottish cross name) was first girl, nabbing a top ten finish in the process.

The Under 14 male race had another Carrick-Anderson, this time Corran, earning the victory, ahead of Frederick Fuller and Ross Birrell, with Eilidh Shaw, Eva Young and Elena McGorum on the top three steps for the female race. Under 16s was a battle of the Annas, with Anna Flynn and Anna McGorum taking first and second respectively, again with the same time, and Anna Shackley on the third step. For the boys the ever-impressive Jamie Johnston was on top spot, followed by Callum Cooper and Rory McGuire.

Then started the truly large fields of riders. The combined Junior/V50/Women's race had 132 riders on the start line. 

Cameron Mason was untouchable in the Junior male event, followed in by his teamate Conner Johnstone then Craig Dobbins; while the Junior women were a little closer together, Megan Wilkinson winning, just 35 seconds ahead of Eleanor Strathdee, and Katie Allen nabbing third.

The senior women saw a fantastic battle develop between Jane Barr and Kerry MacPhee, that running all the way to the line, with Jane taking the victory by just two seconds on the final sprint. Maddy Robinson filled out the podium. For the vet women Sian Tovey won by just 5 seconds from Lindsay Branston, with Brenda Callander another 28 seconds behind in third; while the Vet50 men were taken home by Michael Nally, a little distance ahead of Gary Beall and Brian Nicholas, who were only separated by 4 seconds.

It wasn't long before that enormous field size was eclipsed. The male V40 category has grown more than any other in recent years, and 147 of the auld yins (the writer included) were on the line. Perhaps even more remarkably 143 made it to the end (and last man home Eric Easton deserves a shout for the sheer amount of running he did). Gary McCrae was first over the line, followed in 22 seconds later by man-mountain Hans Forhaug, then ever-dangerous Stevie Jackson.

Only time for a few deep breaths, then it was the senior men who took to the still-fast course. I may go as far as to suggest that this year may see the strongest top of the field so far in Scottish cross. When current series champion Davie Lines rolls home in 5th you know there's something special going on ahead (though we'll give him some leeway for being up at the sparrow's fart to set out the course). After a couple of laps with a stellar leading group, Harry Johnston imposed himelf, and rode away to a victory of almost a minute. That was ahead of Gary MacDonald, fresh (or perhaps not so) from his Three Peaks podium exploits, with Calum Magowan in 3rd. Allan Clark was the last man ahead of Lines, but with 2 and a half minutes covering the top 7 there are interesting times ahead in this category.

And there's not long to wait. Sunday 23rd sees the entire circus set up camp in Aberdeenshire, and the dramatic natural surroundings of Knockburn Loch.

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Stars Flock to Dig In at the Dock

Helen Wyman and Amira Mellor to Race in Scotland

words: dave hamill
pics: stefan wyman/anthony robson

Helen Wyman (Kona Racing) and Amira Mellor (Next Wyman) have today confirmed they will be closing off the current cyclocross season with an appearance at Dig in at the Dock in Bo’ness on 19th of February. Their willingness to travel to Scotland is testament to the fast building reputation of the Bo’ness race. Race organiser David Hamill had this to say.

“We’re over the moon to have Helen back racing in Scotland and that she and Amira chose our race in Bo’ness. They have the choice to drive just 90 minutes from Helen’s home and ride the C1 race in Oostmalle, but instead they’re choosing to make the trip up to Scotland. She promised to come to the race someday and she has remained good to that promise. I’m chuffed to bits.

Helen is really popular wherever she goes and people in the Scottish cyclocross community adore her, so the decision to come up and see us again will go down very well I’m sure. She’s a crackin’ lass and a fantastic ambassador to both cyclocross and women’s bike racing generally. She’s done a tremendous amount for the sport.”

Nine time British Cyclocross Champion Helen and husband Stef will be delivering cross clinics the day before the race, one in the morning for under 16 year olds and another in the afternoon for the older riders. Keep an eye on the Dig in at the Dock Facebook page for more details of these being announced.

Helen told us how happy she is to make a return to racing in Scotland.

“It’s going to be cool to be back in Scotland, this time for my first experience of Dig in at the Dock.  Everyone knows I’m a fan of Scottish CX and this will be a really fun way to finish my season. The crowds in Scotland are by far the biggest in the UK, so I’m hoping they’ll be making some noise as I take on the men.  Of course I’m hoping for a mud fest for my last outing, and I’ll expect cow bells to be ringing.”

It will be Amira Mellor’s first experience racing north of the border and Hamill is keen to build on an already strong women’s field.

“Dig in at the Dock is the last race in the Super Quaich Series where we categorise riders by their racing level rather than age or sex. So riders get a challenging race at every level. We already get a strong field of female riders at Bo’ness and Amira is an amazing addition to that. I’d like to call on more women to come and race, be they among the best riders in the world like Helen and Amira or a mum of four kids who’s getting a bit bored of spin class. You will have someone to race against and you’ll be very welcome.”

Dig in at the Dock has a special place in the Scottish cyclocross calendar thanks to the spectator-friendly approach taken by the organisers. There are prizes for spectators and photographers as well as riders with cowbells and horns provided for the cross fans to make plenty of noise. A balance bike course is also provided to keep the really young riders entertained.

It’s a very popular race in Scotland with rider entries tending to sell out within minutes of opening.

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Raleigh SCX 2015 Series Winners receive their prizes.

words: Gordon Watt

Series winners Lucy Grant and Davie Lines receive their new machines from Graeme Hart

Scottish riders Davie Lines and Lucy Grant received their prizes as overall winners of the Raleigh SCX 2015 Series. The Raleigh RX Race and RWX Race bikes, supplied as part of Raleigh’s two year sponsorship of the Scottish Cyclocross Association, were built up and presented by Graeme Hart at Raleigh’s Edinburgh dealer, Hart’s Cyclery. The Series winners also received CX wheelsets from Strada Wheels.

“A massive thanks to Raleigh and Strada wheels for their support and prizes for winning the Scottish cyclocross series. To be presented with prizes like that makes all the training and rolling around in the mud completely worth it!” said Davie Lines, at the presentation on Monday.

Both Davie and winner of the closely-fought Womens series, Lucy Grant (Peebles CC), will get the chance to start the defence of their titles at the 2016 Raleigh SCX Series. This years seven-race Series kicks off with the traditional opener at Raleigh SCX 1 - Callendar Park on Sunday, October 9, 2016. The upcoming calendar promises a lot of exciting developments, with a number of youngsters moving up into more senior categories, new teams and rider transfers, and the groundswell of enthusiasm for CX all contributing to what will hopefully be another great season for Scottish cyclocross.

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