Drag-strip courses are renowned for producing fast times but we don’t normally think of single-carriageway roads, with lumps and bumps, producing the very best from our riders over 10 miles.
That’s exactly what we got on Sunday though at the Scottish National 10-Mile TT hosted by Moray Firth CC and based on the Nigg course just to the north of Invergordon, with a clutch of 20-minute performances and medals separated in more than one case by a mere second!
Coming across the Cromarty Firth and heading along the north coast to the base at Invergordon we could see the biggest cruise ship ever to visit Scottish waters as the Meraviglia looked like she was getting ready to leave. Passing the Dalmore Distillery and arriving at the Leisure Centre it became apparent we were in whisky country. Surrounded by bonded warehouses, the smell of maturing uisge beatha was everywhere. The great weather of Saturday had deteriorated into an overcast mush with the ever-present threat of rain competing with the whisky spirit. Top holder Kenny Riddle said he thought it wouldn’t improve…until after the race, and he was correct.
Heading onto the course we picked a spot a couple of miles after the start where we could catch the riders going in both directions. The wind was beginning to blow…not enough to be an issue but just to potentially ruin your day. And then it started to rain, that fine drizzle that’s enough to coat everything in a film of water. The wind was coming from the east and, according to local racer Laura Nicolson (Dooleys Cycles), this was the wrong way round. The course normally runs better with a tailwind out and headwind home…but maybe the riders didn’t know this.
First to appear out of the gloom and spray was Douglas Crawford (Glasgow CT) and he would be first to finish in a time of 24:02. A couple of minutes and then Jed Scott from the home club overtook Glasgow CT’s Georgia Young as they approached us. A 23:27 for Jed and a 28:13 for Georgia. Good enough for 4th Junior male and putting Georgia on the podium as 2nd Junior female.
It was an excellent spot for catches as next to come along was Alasdair Munro (RT23) as he passed Ellie Park (Team 22). Both riders were going really well and Alasdair would come home in 22:24 and this would put him on the 2nd top step in the Junior competition. Ellie went one better with her 27:29 and won the junior female category. Top rides in the challenging conditions. Second last Junior to ride was Glasgow CT’s Cameron Oliver and his time of 22:53 was enough to supplant Jed Scott and finish on the podium in 3rd.
There’s was no stopping Spokes RT rider of the moment though as Dylan Hughes chalked up another win to add to an already impressive 2018 campaign. He would return in a time of 21:10 to win this Scottish Junior title and take home another medal.
Onto the women’s race and everyone was wondering if defending champion Neah Evans (Storey Racing) would have recovered from the Tour of Yorkshire or if Vicky Smith (AeroCoach) would bring the challenge once again. And Lynsey Curran (Dooleys Cycles) was also looking to take her second title of the year.
First woman to come past was recent RT23 recruit Aileen Clyde and her 26:05 would set the pace to begin with. However, off just 2 minutes behind her was Georgia Mansfield (Torelli-Brother) now riding as a senior, and she would bring the mark down to 25:37. Neither Anna Fairweather (RT23) or Karolyn Brown (Velocity 44 RT) could better this with their times of 25:41 and 26:08 respectively.
Bringing it below the 25-minute mark was Laura Nicolson (Dooleys Cycles) in a very respectable 24:38 and her teammate Mireille Captieux, off 1 minute behind her, would normally have given her a run for her money. A sticking brake though would see her struggling and eventually posting a time of 28:44, not what she would normally have done but still enough to see her onto the podium as part of the team prize.
Amanda Tweedie (RT 23) finished one second behind her erstwhile protégé with 25:38 and now we were onto the final three. Lynsey Curran came past first, pushing hard into the wind. All three of the final riders have slightly different positions with Lynsey’s hands appearing to wrap around the extensions ready to change gear. Vicky Smith’s arms sit very straight where Neah Evans sits somewhere between the two, but with a very compact profile.
Lynsey Curran would come back to the timekeeper in 23:45 which would be good enough for 3rd spot overall…but the battle was between Vicky Smith and Neah Evans, and what a battle it turned out to be. The AeroCoach rider flashed over the finish-line in a time of 22:49 and that left Neah Evans still to come. And she arrived exactly one minute and 59 seconds later in a time of 22:48! As she passed us 2 miles from home she was giving it everything and it was a fantastic performance to take the win by a mere second!
Onto the Men’s race and the weather had dried slightly but, if anything, the wind was picking up. And the times were fast! The first 15 places were filled with sub 22 minute times with the top six all below 21 minutes. First rider to better 22 minutes was relatively early starter Gavin Dempster (Moray Firth CC) with a marvelous 21:17. This would see him at the top of the leader board for a short while before recent pro signing Finn Crockett (Wheelbase Castelli MGD) would replace him with 21:03.
Crockett would hold the top spot for ages with riders like Peter Ettles (RT23), Ross Thomson (Bioracer-Project GO), Robin Atkinson (Shetland Wheelers) and Ewen MacGillivray (RT23) all unable to shift him. First to go under 21 minutes was Jamie Davidson (Aberdeen Wheelers) with 20:22. The man who beat him by just two seconds at the Meldons, Wilson Renwick (RT23), was riding four minutes behind him on the road and would come home just three seconds behind his time in 20:25. These positions looked like we had our winners with just three seconds in it...but that wasn’t the end of the story. Last man off was Douglas Watson (Unattached) and when he finished, the timekeepers couldn’t separate his time from that of Renwick. The two riders had posted exactly the same time after 10 miles of racing! But there were another three seconds to find out on that course and one man would do just that!
Ever-youthful veteran Jim Cusick (Dooleys Cycles) came home in 20:52 and Bioracer-Project GO’s David Griffiths in 20:35. But it was the man from Hawick CC who would find those required seconds and Liam Beaty flashed passed the timekeeper in a superb time of 20:19 to take the title of Scottish National 10-Mile Champion 2018! Four men on the podium with Beaty in top spot!
The Angels had given up some of their share on the day and it was back to the HQ where times were checked and rechecked, sandwiches eaten and copious amounts of tea drunk. We had our winners with Dooleys Cycles (Lynsey Curran and Laura Nicolson) claiming the team prize in the Women’s event and RT23 taking the Men’s with Peter Ettles, Ewen MacGillivray and Wilson Renwick. The medals were presented by Scottish Cycling President Tom Bishop who had also ridden the event putting up a time of 27:28.
A top day of performances and fast times north of the Cromarty Firth and Eric Davidson and his team had put on a great show. We’re already looking forward to coming back later in the year for the Scottish National Road Race on August 19th. See you there!