There’s a whole clutch of riders who have clicked over into veteran territory this year and the winner of the 2018 Scottish National Veteran Men’s Road Race came from one such rider…and a popular one at that.
David Lines (Wheelbase Castelli MGD) showed everyone a clean pair of wheels over the testing course that had been prepared by Iain Pryde and his top team of helpers. The race route was just south of Alford and consisted of a long run down to the circuit, three times around and then a climb of the Glacks to the finish line, a line that must have felt as if it would never come for many riders.
As so often with races, there’s more than one story, and we’ll get to the race itself in a minute. The Alford Community Campus is an impressive institution and proved to be a great base for this event. The organisers had pulled in help from many different quarters and we witnessed a number of other race organisers helping out, from driving race vehicles to standing on exposed marshaling points…and this included at least one multi-national champion making sure the riders were protected on a very fast downhill section.
Before the race officially got going, there was a mechanical for Andrew Matheson (Musselburgh Roads CC) with a broken stem/handlebars. It looked like a long trip north for nothing but help was at hand when Helen Wyld, there to support her Edinburgh Road Club teammates Andrew Kitchin and Ross Crook, offered up her own bike for the Musselburgh rider. The only problem is that Andrew Matheson is quite a tall rider and Helen’s Pinarello is a 50cm…so a strange sight seeing him race on such a small machine. His trip north was saved and he was awarded the combativity prize for his perseverance.
Onto the race itself and the initial rundown to the circuit start at Muir of Fowlis was neutralised by the Commissaires. There had been a late dressing of the surface with that enemy of cyclists, stone chips, and it was felt that it could be unsafe to have the riders race…something the riders agreed with especially as the roads were still drying from the heavy downpour just prior to the race start.
Onto the circuit and it wasn’t long before the race-winning move happened. We’d positioned ourselves at the bottom of the fast descent back onto the B9119 at Collmuir for the first pass. Talking to Danny Hedley he speculated that Davie Lines would be the man to beat and sure enough it was Lines and Richard McGhee (Glasgow Nightingale CC) that made the turn first…with a decent lead over the main field.
And so it went for a while with the bunch content to keep the leaders within reach, confident that they would be brought back when needed. The two leaders however had a different idea and they were working well. At this point, a loud bang was heard by the lead car but the riders continued…until McGhee began to tire and eventually drifted back to the bunch leaving Lines out on his own. It only became apparent at this point that a spoke had snapped in his rear wheel and the bike was flexing at the back. McGhee decided he had no option but to abandon as he was fearful of frame damage but David Lines paid tribute to him at the prize-giving, saying that he wouldn’t have been able to stay away without the help from the Glasgow Nightingale rider.
There was little appetite for chasing down the lone leader. The bunch didn’t seem able to organise any kind of concerted chase but when frustrated riders tried to bridge across they were chased down. At one point they had Lines within 20 seconds but again they allowed him to pull ahead and out of reach.
Up the Glacks as the race pulled off the circuit and up the final climb, a climb that starts out steep in places and then just seems to keep going, and going again, and again before finally coming over the brow…and then the riders only have the false flat to contend with before the line. We watched to see who would appear through the gap in the trees and sure enough it was a lone rider in the colours of Wheelbase Castelli MGD.
There had been a break away on the climb but the chasers were never going to get across and were fighting for the minor placings. Next to come over the top was Malcolm Bain (Granite City RT) and he soloed to the silver medal position 16 seconds after David Lines had crossed the line. It was a popular win for the Falkirk Fireman and an excellent run-in from Bain to distance the others on the final climb.
Four seconds later the sprint was on for third and Andy Bruce (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique) noticed too late that Walter Hamilton (Velo Club Edinburgh) was stuck in the 11 sprocket. The VC Edinburgh rider opened up early as he had to wind up the speed and they shot to the line with Gary McCrae (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique) and Andrew Ennis (Deeside Thistle CC) also in the mix. Hamilton edged it on the line but it was a top sprint and could have gone either way.
“I think it’s testament to Walter's strength as a climber. Walter, Gary and I all climbed extremely well to the finish (in that order - I was hanging, tooth and nail, onto my teammate's rear wheel, very much getting dragged up the steeper ramps).
We caught and passed a group of four well-regarded climbers on our way to the top. The fact that Walter did it on 39/11 (fortunately he still had a working front mech) just reinforces his previous 2015 Scottish Hill Climb Champion status - he's not lost his mountain goat-like abilities in the intervening years...
If Walter had not had his mechanical (not sure exactly where it happened, but it was certainly by the bottom of the climb), he'd have destroyed us on the ascent, and almost certainly taken 2nd spot on the podium. At a stretch, could he have given David cause for concern? We'll never know...” Andy Bruce
Crossing the line in 8th spot overall was the new Scottish National V50 Champion Dominic Hines (VC Edinburgh), a superb performance to land the title yet again. Finishing less than 2 seconds behind him was Hamish MacLean (Musselburgh Roads) to take the silver in this category with Keith Robertson (Granite City RT) a further 6 seconds behind him. It was close though as he edged John Kermode (Dundee Wheelers CC) for the final podium spot.
The riders were now finishing in small groups as the final climb had decimated the field, with the final finishers coming home some 13 minutes after the winner.
It was back to the Community Campus for tea and sandwiches and a quick awards ceremony before everyone headed home. Organiser Iain Pryde, calling David Lines to the podium to receive his medal and jersey, said that he was reminded of a younger version of himself but with less hair.
It was another successful Scottish National Championship and we now take a couple of weeks off before reconvening at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome on the 29th June for the Scottish National Youth and Junior Track Championships…see you there!
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