Published:6th July 2015
Photos: The Pressroom
Tucked away behind Clyde Football Club's home at Broadwood stadium is a gem of a BMX track, home to the Cumbernauld Centurions. With two start gates located at different levels, huge berms on each turn, and a length that will have all but the fittest of athletes gasping for air by the time they've sprinted the distance, it's a location that can break apart fields, and give those with talent a real opportunity to shine.
Not that the dull, grey weather was giving any help to enlivening matters, but thankfully the early morning heavy rain had abated by the time practice opened, and remained mostly absent until the last final had been run. With fields perhaps smaller than usual, down to a combination of the weather and summer holidays, there were some intriguing mixtures of age groups that, if anything, sparked even more effort into the riding. This was especially apparent in the younger age groups where the older riders clearly didn't want to be beaten by those a group or two below, and the relative youths able to mix it (both in attempt and, it turns out, results) with their elders.
The first race of the day saw the largest disparity in age, young Reuben Bill taking to the track against.... his dad, Ray. It's a credit to the organisers that rather than have Reuben trundle round the track on his own in the Novice race, they would let him race (and beat, in all three motos and the final) his old man. This gave Reuben the Novice 6 & under crown, though his father can take solace in winning the Novice 17+.
The Cruiser 45+ category saw Raymond Reid as the undoubted class of the field, coming top in all three motos, and the final. Alan Young (Cruiser 30-39) found a consistency to post two thirds, a 2nd two seconds, the latter of which in the final meaning Peter Crowson (Cruiser 13-14) had to settle for third, ahead of Fred Crowson. Ray Bill also took part, but presumably smarting from his battles with Reuben, could make no impact on the lead.
The Female 15-16 races saw similar dominance, Molly Shearer (actually a 13-14 rider) posting a clean sweep of firsts, ahead of Mia Paton, racing for the first time after a long time away from the track, and Charlotte Crowson (another 13-14 rider) rounding out the podium.
In the Male 8 races the battle was over second place, as none of the riders had any answer to Logan Taylor taking it home for the Musselburgh Monarchs. Nathan Young and Hakeem Vemmie swapped seconds and thirds through the motos, with Hakeem taking a slight advantage into the final, but Nathan had too much in the end, slipping by into second place on the final pump section as encouragement was shouted down to both riders. Year younger Harris Taylor, on his striking red and black Haro, filled in the last place on the field, taking the Male 7 points in the process.
The next two categories saw the gaps between the riders shorten, and in both it was young riders, pitched in with those older than them, who truly impressed.
First up were the Male 10 racers, and Harrison Bell (Male 9) was mixing it with Eli Shearer and Fergus Whitehouse. In each race the three of them would hit the first jump together, and it wasn't until the first berm that orders would start to be mapped out. Over the whole course Harrison and Eli had just too much for Fergus, with the younger Harrison managing to snatch victory in all three motos, and Fergus able to knock Eli down to third in the last moto. In the final, though, Eli timed his moves to perfection, heading round the final berm in first, and leaving just too much for Harrison to do. Fergus almost caught a slowing Harrison, but in the end had to settle for third. Stewart Bagen and Connor Bryce could do nothing in the face of the battle ahead, pushing the speed up for the entire course, and rolled in 4th and 5th respectively.
There was no let up when the Male 13 category took to the track, and again youth was to win out. Cameron Reid, a Male 12 rider, his fluorescent yellow gloves clashing in the overcast light with his red racing kit, was just too good. The lead would be taken with a burst out of the gate that couldn't be matched, and cemented round the first berm. From there the gap would generally be held, usually by Jack Bailie with two seconds in the heat, a result matched in the final, but couldn't be closed. Behind these two Peter Crowson got a full set of third places, with the rest of the field taken by Male 11 riders, first among those Daniel McCrory (who also impressively managed a second in the motos), followed by Austin Goldberg, Daniel Kelly, Euan Drain and Cole Hamilton. Cole was the only rider of the meet to take a tumble, coming down in the first berm of the final, but with the paramedics ready to run onto the track he picked himself up, dusted down the bike, and made sure he got over the finish line.
The Championship Men saw something of a return to single rider dominance, and the true class of the field was evident from the first jump and manual by Josh Hanlon. The clean sweep of first places wasn't in much doubt, though the damp and occasionally windy conditions meant that complacency couldn't settle in, and despite some big leaps in practice, there was a more safety-first approach to the races themselves. It all added up to an impressive display of speed, finding the smooth lines, and giving out a masterclass. Behind him in the motos Stewart Campbell (Vets) and Daniel Kelly (also Vets) were duking it out, with Stewart edging it; but in the final Daniel found the pace to snatch second, with Stewart dropping down to fourth behind Male 17-24 rider Callum Hale, who until that moment had posted a best finish of fourth in the motos. Louie Craig (Male 16) came in a creditable fifth in the final, though his third place in the last moto shows his ability; and David Goldberg (Vets) brought the field home.
As the day was wrapped up, talk amongst riders was of upcoming World Championships and the future of the sport. The appetite for BMX remains, and it's especially encouraging to see the kids approaching the races in the right manner: competitive, but with a sense of camaraderie. From the smallest tracks, to the Broadwood standard, that can only bode well.