ScottishPower MiniDH Round 3 Comrie Croft Race Report
The weather threatened to overcast yesterday’s Scottish Power Mini Downhill event at Comrie Croft, the third in the series. Riders reported having been there the previous weekend in dry and dusty conditions but with the forecast not looking promising it was going to be a wet and cold day. Not that the riders were complaining. In fact, it was only the adults that seemed the least bit concerned about the driving east wind and the constant downpour.
Speaking to the organiser beforehand, Scottish Cycling’s own Bob Macfarlane, he confirmed that riders were onsite and raring to go…”character-building” he described it and we would remind him of that later in the day as he sat at the finishing line, recording rider times and fighting off the onset of hypothermia.
All of the riders were required to pre-ride the course and a good number of them took the opportunity to do so several times in an attempt to see how the conditions had changed the nature of the track. And then they all took shelter in their vehicles or sought out hot drinks and food in the café that was bursting at the seams as the officials decided on the start order.
As the official start time for the first timed runs drew closer, riders and their supporters started to push up the track towards the top of the hill and the marshals made their way out to their watch points. And then the first rider was spotted coming down the hill.
The course consisted of a series of switchbacks to begin with and pushed towards the stream taking in berms and rolling rises and descents. The riders then splashed through the burn with the rock jump alternative having been closed off for this event. Following the stream the course continued with some beautiful berms and curves before dropping back down to the tricky river bridge crossing. Coming out of this crossing there was a little rise which was just enough to slow those who had selected too high a gear before they headed onto the boardwalk, which was surprising grippy considering the conditions.
Now the course headed off high on one bank as the stream dropped into the gorge. There was a tricky little switchback before a smooth section of single-track then it was through the wall-gap and into the park section of the course. This is a really nice set up of alternative lines taking in table tops and berms before the exit into three more dropping turns finally flashing through the finish line. This ‘park’ section would be the perfect host to a mini four-cross in the future.
The Under 10 Girls were the first to tackle the course and it would prove to be a very good day for the Carrick-Anderson family as Emily, representing Peebles CC, set the fastest time. Her first run of 2:39 took the race and her second time of 2:43 would have been good enough on its own to see the victory and in fact was quicker than the winning Boys run. Second place went to Aimi Kenyon of Black Isle MBC who had made the trip south and finished with a best time of 2:55. Third spot went to Heather Wilson in a time of 2:58, just outside the second position time.
In the Under 10 Boys race the first run saw the top three positions separated by only six seconds but eventual overall winner Leo Mackintosh managed to shave a further 5 seconds on his second run to take the victory in a time of 2:41. Second placed Hector Patterson also reduced his first run time, by six seconds, to finish just one second behind Mackintosh. Third spot went to Benjamin Wipat of the Tay Titans in a best time of 2:52.
There were only three entrants in the Under 12 Girls competition, starting higher up the course, with the win going to Abbie Stoddart who put in the two fastest runs, the best being 3:52. Second place went to another family well represented on the day with Iona Aldridge of the Stirling Bike Club finishing in 4:04. Third place went to Rosie Ritchie of the Wallace Warriors who crashed on her second run so had some brusies to go with her medal, her first run finished in a time of 5:05.
Next up was the Under 12 Boys and this was a hotly contested grouping with Corran Carrick-Anderson (Peebles CC) and Zander Millar Todd (Highland Bikes Racing Team) matching each other exactly in the first run to finish in 3:13. Carrick-Anderson would shave a further three seconds off his time with Millar Todd reducing his by one in the second run. Third place went to James Wilson of the Wolfpax Riders, again choosing not to run a second time, and finishing in 3:18. There’s a lot of talent in this grouping with both first and second placed riders coming from families with a long and successful record of elite-level riding.
In the Under 14 Girls we had four entrants with the ever-successful Polly Henderson (Stewartry Wheelers) finishing in a time of 3:10 which would have seen her finish second overall in her age group, boys included. Second was Tea Jenson in 3:32 with Charlotte Higgins third in a best time of 4:17.
In the Under 14 Boys Charlie Aldridge (Stirling Bike Club) ran out a clear winner, choosing to only run once but finishing in 3:04. Second and third spots were closely fought out however with Joel Hall sitting just ahead of Lewis Kelly after the first run. Both riders improved on the second run but it was Kelly of Black Isle MBC who got the better time of 3:12 to Hall’s 3:13. Close racing and huge prospects for the future.
There was only one rider in the Under 16 Girls class with Emily Field of Stirling Bike Club finishing in a best time of 3:21, again choosing not to run a second time.
In the Under16 Boys event it was a close fight with the top five riders finishing within nine seconds of each other. First spot went to Jack Devlin of East Coast MTB who was the only rider to get under the 3-minute mark with his second run time of 2:59 proving the best on the day. Again second and third spots would change hands with Andrew Henderson (Stirling Bike Club) and Adam Burgoyne finishing in the same time of 3:02. Henderson, however, had posted a first run time of 3:04 to Burgoyne’s 3:20 to clinch the second place on the day.
And that was it with nothing left but the awards ceremony on Scottish Cycling’s new podium and all of the adults desperate to get in out of the cold and wet. Despite the weather it was a great day of racing and nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of these young racers. A special thanks goes to Stirling Bike Club and the Wallace Warriors Youth section for thier support with the event and to all the volunteers who braved the elements to marshal the course!
With two events next weekend, at Fort William and Aberfeldy, it’s all to play for.