It’s always nice being back in ‘Monarch’ country and Cairngorm CC had laid on a superb weekend of racing. We were there for the Sunday afternoon races but there were already tired legs from the time trial that morning. Rolling out at 2:30pm we had the Sally Anne Low Memorial Road Race as the final round of the Scottish National Women’s Road Race Series, incorporating the Scottish National Veteran Women’s Road Race Championship.
The weather had been threatening in the countdown to the race itself and, Scotland being Scotland, the heavens opened just as the race got going. The course was out from Kincraig and along the B road towards Kingussie where the race would turn south and head past the Ruthven Barracks, turning east again and heading through Insh before taking a left turn down past the Loch Insh Watersports Centre and back into Kincraig with a sprint up the Brae to finish on the second lap.
We’d positioned ourselves just short of the Speyside Distillery beyond Ruthven for the first pass and the rain was bouncing off the ground as the first group came down the hill, across the bridge and round the tricky left hander. The first group headed by with Helen Wyld and Louise Borthwick (Edinburgh Road Club) coming firing down the hill. This was to be the break of the race and contained eight riders that had forged ahead just after the Barracks. It contained the two ERC riders, Julie Erskine (Cycle Team OnForm), Series Leader Genevieve Whitson (Isorex Cycling Team), Emma Smith (Deeside Thistle CC), Flora Gillies (Team 22), Jesse Mitchell (www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk) and Charlotte Anderson (Ronde CC).
Chasing a short way behind was the RT23 pairing of Georgia Mansfield and Amanda Tweedie who later told us that once the break had gone they just treated the race like a 2-up time trial as they knew they would never catch the lead group on such rolling terrain. The next group contained Juli Rourke (ERC), Alison Winship-MacKay (RC Cumbernauld and Kilsyth), Louisa Sturrock from the host club and Amy Forbes (Ronde CC). Trying to stay in touch was Zosia Martin (Glasgow Green CC), Natalie Taylor (Aberdeen Wheelers CC), Pamela Craig (RT23), Michelle Highfield (Berwick Wheelers) and Jackie Donald (Elgin CC).
We tried at this point to reposition ourselves back to Kincraig for the second pass but the circuit is so quick that the riders were on us before we could set up! The lead group had now pushed their advantage out and the 2-up time triallists of Amanda and Georgia were still doing their own thing. Jesse Mitchell attempted to break away on the run back towards Kincraig but at the bottom of the Brae it was between three riders…and the Cycle Team OnForm rider is truly in form. Julie Erskine was crowned Scottish Road Race Champion just a couple of weeks ago but she had another goal in mind.
Firing up the climb it was her head that appeared first over the brow as she led home Louise Borthwick with Jesse Mitchell close behind. Finishing just a little way behind was Genevieve Whitson but she had done enough to secure the overall in the Race Series and she was duly presented with the 2017 National Series Winner jersey. The prize for Julie Erskine was gaining enough BC points to move her up to ‘Elite’ level and she was quick to offer her congratulations to Peter Dennis and his team from Cairngorm CC for putting on such a fine weekend of racing.
Next home in the Sally Anne Low was Emma Smith and then Helen Wyld as she outclimbed her Edinburgh compatriot Charlotte Anderson. Flora Gillies finished on her own and then the RT23 pairing of Amanda Tweedie and Georgia Mansfield clasped arms as they crossed the line.
We were still waiting for our Vets champions and the next rider was Amy Forbes but she was closely followed by Louisa Sturrock who crossed the line to claim both the V40 and the V50 National Championship titles. Next to her was Natalie Taylor followed by Juli Rourke and Zosia Martin with Alison Winship-MacKay finishing off this group. Pamela Craig finished a further 3-minutes back with Michelle Highfield and Jackie Donald coming home 6-minutes after that.
All credit then to the organisers and we can’t wait to come back to race in this beautiful part of the country.