With Isla Short (OMX Pro Team) coming to the Scottish National Mountain Bike Championships at Glentress straight off the back of a superb 4th place in the Val de Sole World Cup race, the Gold medal was her’s for the taking…but she’d have to get by Jane Barr (Velocity 44) and the all-rounder Joanne Thom (Sandy Wallace Cycles). In the men’s race, the absence of Rob Friel meant that we would have a new champion and the smart money was on Dave Duggan (Devinci/Freeborn) or Gary MacDonald (Hope Factory Racing) but making a welcome return to his mountainbike roots Jordan Doig (Altura/Wheelbase) was keen to make them work for it.
Giving us a personal view we hand over to Hervelo’s Pammie Ball to take us through the run-up to the championship weekend and the morning races.
“This year’s National Champs in Scotland was eagerly anticipated by many when it was announced that Glentress would be the venue of choice, known by many as the home of mountain biking. Myself, like many others decided to make a weekend of it and head down after work on Friday, the fact that the weather forecast was predicting sunshine meant I left work with a smile on my face and my trusty Oakleys packed in my bag.
On Saturday I was keen to recce the course but there were strict instructions from the SXC team that no one could go on course until after midday and as a law abiding citizen I decided to do the right thing and have a lie in after a fun night socialising with friends. The course was extremely ‘climby’ and the decision to bring my Orange was one I instantly regretted! On my second lap I felt more confident and was happy with all the descents that made the climb worthwhile. It was a brilliant course that would suit all the racing snakes on their superlight 29ers!
Sunday arrived too quickly and the Scottish weather was still playing nice. After discovering I had no brake pads left in my back brake half an hour before the start of the morning races, I made a quick stop in at the bike shop and they kindly helped me out just in time to get up to the gridding. Everyone was pedalling round, chatting, smiling, waving and lots of good lucks were getting shouted at me and all the other riders as the Youth and Juvenile boys lined up to start their race. Charlie Aldridge (Stirling Bike Club) sporting his European MTB champ colours and heading for the holeshot, being chased by Jamie Johnston (Leslie Bike Shop) who raced to a silver medal and local lad Jonte Willins (PCC) finding his form of late, finished with the bronze. Charlie continued to show his domination over the Youth boys and won convincingly, managing to give me a much-needed cheer as he pedalled by me at lightning speed!
The Juvenile boys race finished as it has done most of the season with Tweed Valley favourites Corran Carrick-Anderson and Callum Thornley taking the gold and silver respectively and Ben McMullen (Pro Vision) taking the bronze and the much sought after holeshot at the start of the race.
The Youth girls saw Anna McGorum (PCC) win gold on her local trails. The podium was made up of Mieke Kalmjein (Glasgow Riderz) and Emily Wilkinson (PCC), coming second and third. There could only be one winner in the Junior women, Megan Wilkinson (PCC).
Ailsa Curtis (West Lothian Clarion) took the gold for the Veteran Women and Gill Barnes (West Highland Wheelers) was champion for the Grand Veteran Women.
Barry McGuire (Leslie Bike Shop) was looking strong in the Grand Vets and kept last year’s winner Kenny Kentley (Velocity 44RT) at bay, his team mate Gary Beall took home a bronze medal as part of a successful day for many of the Leslie Bike Shop team in what was sadly the team’s last ever Scottish Champs.
In the Elite women’s race, Isla Short (OMX Pro Team) was keen to retain her title as the Scottish Champion after a successful finish to her season with a career best 4th at the Val de Sole World Cup. From the start she showed she is in the form of her life and opened up a gap on the other elite riders, bar a mechanical, the race was hers for the taking as she dominated the field and pedalled to victory on her back doorstep. Jane Barr (Velocity 44 RT) was looking strong throughout and put the power down on lap two to shake off late entry Katy Winton (Trek Factory Racing) to take the silver with a bronze for Joanne Thom (SWC) despite finishing 4th. Late entry for Katy resulted in her being unable to contest for a medal on the day but she still got a chance to be on the podium and back to her cross-country roots!
In case you were wondering, I was a DNF. Sometimes your legs just won’t do what you want them to!
A massive well done to the SXC and all the volunteers who make it possible for these events to take place. Get your entries in for the last round in Kingussie!”
Onto the Men’s race and there was a wide range of entrants, including local legend Andy Barlow (Dirt School), new boy on the XC scene Gary MacDonald (Hope Factory Racing), and 1st category road racer Jordan Doig (Wheelbase Altura). Doig was determined to win it and he surprised everyone by firing away from the others as soon as the gun went off. He was like a scalded cat and it would either by a win or a heroic failure.
Waiting for the riders to come back down to the water splash towards the end of the first lap it was no surprise to see the Dave Duggan riding clear of the field…well, not quite clear as Gary MacDonald was tracking him 20 seconds down. This would be the pattern of the race although MacDonald would close spectacularly towards the end to finish just 6 seconds shy of Duggan.
British Junior Champion Sean Flynn (Edinburgh RC) was next to come through followed by Cameron Mason (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique), both riders having passed many of the elite field.
Then we had Craig Owen (Harts Cyclery) before Jordan Doig splashed past. We spoke to Jordan after the finish: “yeah, the start was fast but they caught me on the climb. I settled in and it was going well until my chain came off on the descent and by the time I got going again, the others were too far ahead.”
In the Veteran’s race the obvious favourite was Gary McCrae (Leslie Bike Shop/BB) with local rider Crawford Carrick Anderson (Peebles CC) rising to the challenge, but making use of his Scottish heritage Christopher Clark (VC York) ran McCrae all the way and in the end had a gap of just 7 seconds to take the title.
With the Juniors, Flynn was in a class of his own and easily took gold to add to his British title. Cameron Mason came home in second with Tim Shoreman (Dales Cycles) in the Bronze medal spot.
It was great to see Andy Barlow (Dirt School) back to racing and ‘performing’ for the spectators, styling it up over the jumps.
The other well-deserved win of the day was the multiple champion Gregor Grant (Moray Firth CC) in the SuperVets category…and super he was, finishing almost 10 minutes ahead of his nearest rival in Phillip Mack (PCC) in second and John Gemmell (Ayr Roads CC) in third.
We remember watching Gregor race cross-country back in the early ‘90s and taking part in the SCUM Series organised through PUMP Magazine (one for the oldies there) and he still looks fast and focused on the bike.
So, another great championship and very worthy winners and as Pammie said, the weather stayed dry despite the forecast, only beginning to spit as the final medal ceremony was held. A massive thanks to Pammie Ball and rising filmmaker Cameron Mason for their text and photographs.
Results can be found here: