Arriving at the Reid Park in Forfar it was clear that the organisers had pulled out all the stops for this final run in the Scottish Cross Country Series. There were marshals and helpers everywhere, there were tents and coffee vans, caterers and even a bmx stunt display team…not to mention the live music that was going on as part of the cycling festival.

We’d come here though to see the racing and the day promised hot and fast action. It was a triple celebration as this was the final race of the year so there would be race prizes up for grabs, overall series awards to sort out…and of course this was also the scene of the 2016 Scottish National Championships, so there would be medals…and lots of them.

The course was a thing of beauty…climbing away from the start line it was a tough little pull to the top of the park. Step-turn to the right and the track rolled left and right but was still rising. And then the riders came around the left-hander and started the long climb up between the cultivated fields, hedgerow on one side and the track crossed by rain gullies. This climb was awesome: about half a mile long with varying gradients going from steep to really steep, hard-packed earth swept across by fine gravel. Topping out with a beautiful view back over the town, not that the riders had the energy to appreciate it, insult was added to injury as the riders were forced right up to the war monument tower before entering the first section of narrow, rocking and rolling single-track.

This was a downhill section towards the quarry but the riders were afforded no opportunity to recover from the climb as they had to stay on it as the track dropped towards the bombhole. All of a sudden, with a track arrow board pointing straight down, the riders hit the drop-in, some of them taking the first jump and others rolling to the side.

Picking up speed and racing up the far side, they hit the kicker that was cunningly placed near the lip and this launched the braver riders into the air…and towards the tree with the big cushion-pad as the track veered away to the left. Into the woods it was all twisty, narrow tracks crisscrossed by exposed tree roots as the riders rolled down the drop-offs before climbing back to the cross-over point and heading out on the long loop. This course covered a huge area so we weren’t able to get around it all but there would be more fast downhills and narrow turns before the riders hit the little bridge back into the park, fired over the banking and careered over the line to begin the whole thing again…and again!

First rider to come into the quarry section, having aced the climb, was British Champion Sean Flynn (Edinburgh RC) and the Youth and Juvenile riders were styling it up over the jump. Followed through by Tim Shoreman (Dales Cycles) and Cameron Mason (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique), and then the juvenile riders, these guys would show a lot of the older riders how to handle their bikes.

The ERC rider obviously had a problem somewhere else around the circuit because second time around the leading rider was Charlie Aldridge (Stirling BC) with Flynn behind, followed by Shoreman and Mason.. By the time the riders came into the finish arena for the last time, the SBC rider had kept his position but Flynn had been overtaken by the other two and this was how they finished, Shoreman 18 seconds back, Mason 40 seconds back and Flynn down by 2:03.

First female rider through was Anna McGorum (Peebles CC) and she would hold this lead all the way to the finish, 1:20 ahead of second placed Polly Henderson (Female Riders RT) with Ishbel Strathdee (Edinburgh RC) coming home in third a further 3 minutes back.

In the Juvenile races, Anna Flynn (Edinburgh RC) was never troubled and finished ahead of Elena McGorum (Pebbles CC) with Niamh Doherty (Glasgow Riderz) taking third.

Corran Carrick-Anderson (Peebles CC) was made to fight for his victory in the Boys race as the first three were evenly matched and it came down to who would be first back into the arena. The Peebles rider timed it to perfection and sped down the hill to take the victory by two seconds from Jamie Johnston (Pro Vision Cycle Clothing) and Rory McGuire (Perth City Cycles) who were left to fight out the sprint for silver and bronze, the Rhu rider just edging the place.

In the Women’s event, OMX Pro Team’s Isla Short was back on form and tearing up the course, leaving Rock and Road Cycles’ Kerry MacPhee chasing, and Lucy Grant (Peebles CC) further back in third. Isla Short was focused all the way round and it was to be the perfect birthday present as she claimed the senior title, over two minutes ahead of MacPhee from Kilpheder on South Uist.

In the Grand Veteran Men’s race, it should have been a three-way fight between Gregor Grant (Moray Firth CC), Kenny Kentley (Velocity 44) and Leslie Bike Shop’s Damian Slorach. Grant would be the first through the bombhole but would be baulked at the top by a group of younger riders and let loose with some bad language. Perhaps a bit of karma as the former champion would fail to finish the race and so it was down to Kentley, ready for a season of cx racing, to take the victory from Slorach by just 31 seconds after almost an hour of racing. Slorach’s teammate Gary Beall would take third but some six minutes back.

It was a two-woman fight in the Senior race between Amy Hickman and Diane Clayton-Chisholm (West Lothian CC). It was a hard race for both women with Hickman joking about how hard the hill was as she climbed away on her final lap. She would take the win by almost 16 minutes but Clayton-Chisholm never let up and fought all the way to the finish.

In the Junior Women’s race it was a solo entry for Katie Allen (VC Moulin) and she took the victory after almost an hour and a half’s racing.

In the Super Vet Men West Highland Wheelers’ John Shirley was well ahead and took the victory by 4 minutes from John Newton (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique) in second and Alan Boyd (Perth City Cycles) in third. It was much closer between Newton and Boyd with only 30 seconds separating the pair.

With the morning races finished we were now treated to the kids races over at the other side of the park and two courses had been set up. The racing was, as always, hard-fought with parents shouting encouragement as the kids went round and round, some wishing that the end would come soon and some wanting to go on for longer.

Now we had the afternoon race and this would see the title races for Elite, Masters and Junior Men. The smart money had Rob Friel (Pro Vision Cycle Clothing) for the Elite classification and true to form he was the first rider to make it back into the stadium arena at the end of the first lap. James Fraser-Moodie (Pedal Power RT) would keep chasing him though and after an hour and a half’s racing Friel would take the win by a mere 48 seconds. Claiming third spot was Douglas Shearer a further minute back.

In the Junior race, the result was just as close with Conner Johnstone (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique) finishing just 46 seconds ahead of second-placed Douglas Carchrie (Perth City Cycles) with Tormod Doherty (Glasgow Riderz) just under 2 minutes further back.

Gaps of 40 seconds was the theme for this race as the Vets win went to Gary McCrae (Leslie Bike Shops/Bikers Boutique) by 44 seconds from Pedal Power RT’s Paul Sharp with Greig Walker (VC Moulin) just over a further minute behind.

It was then onto the podiums with riders picking up medal after medal as some won both the Series and the Championship. Eventually all of the prizes had been given out but the biggest round of applause went to Steve, Morven and Tracy Brown as they now take a back seat from the SXC committee and leave the door open for new blood.

If you think you can fill that vacancy, and build on the great work done with the Series so far, get in touch. We still have the Hill Climb Championships before we move inside for the Track titles and then end the year with Cyclocross…stay tuned for more hard-fought action!

Scottish National Cross Country Mountain Bike Championship Results

Pos Name Team Category Laps Total Tm Diff
1 Isla Short Novus OMX Pro Team Elite Women 4 1:17:25  
2 Kerry MacPhee Rock And Road Cycles Elite Women 4 1:19:43 2:18
3 Lucy Grant Peebles CC Elite Women 4 1:24:21 6:56
1 Charlie Aldridge Stirling Bike Club Youth Boys 3 51:20:00  
2 Tim Shoreman Dales Cycles Racing Team Scotland Youth Boys 3 51:38:00 18
3 Cameron Mason Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique Youth Boys 3 52:00:00 40
1 Kenny Kentley Velocity 44 Stirling Grand Vet Men 3 59:13:00  
2 Damien Slorach Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique Grand Vet Men 3 59:44:00 31
3 Gary Beall Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique Grand Vet Men 3 1:05:29 6:16
1 Katie Allen Velo Club Moulin Junior Women 3 1:26:27  
1 Diane Clayton-Chisholm West Lothian Clarion CC Vet Women 3 1:34:52  
1 Corran Carrick-Anderson Peebles CC Juvenile Boys 2 36:52:00  
2 Jamie Johnston Pro Vision Cycle Clothing Juvenile Boys 2 36:54:00 2
3 Rory McGuire Perth City Cycles Juvenile Boys 2 36:54:00 2
1 Anna McGorum Peebles CC Youth Girls 2 42:37:00  
2 Polly Henderson Female Riders Race Team Youth Girls 2 43:57:00 1:20
3 Ishbel Strathdee Edinburgh RC Youth Girls 2 47:16:00 4:39
1 Anna Flynn Edinburgh RC Juvenile Girls 2 43:57:00  
2 Elena McGorum Peebles CC Juvenile Girls 2 47:03:00 3:06
3 Niamh Doherty Glasgow Riderz Juvenile Girls 2 49:17:00 5:20
1 John Shirley West Highland Wheelers Super Vet men 2 45:58:00  
2 John Newton Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique Super Vet men 2 50:01:00 4:03
3 Eddie Gronkowski Mukyriderz Super Vet men 2 55:27:00 9:29