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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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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