Mud Plugin’ in the Kingdom
Words and images: The Press Room
It’s been a superb year for Scottish National Championships but all good things eventually come to an end…and we’d reached the very last one of the year as we headed for Fife College. This is the third running of this relatively new event but such is its reputation for all things mud, and the superb organization from Paul Davies and his merry band of helpers, that it had attracted the Scottish National Championships for this year.
This course around the campus of the college is already renowned as a mudfest but it already rained heavily through the week, and more was forecast. It was a pleasant surprise then when we arrived to find grey skies and little more than odd moments of dripping fog. Secretly happy as this would maintain a 100% dry record for Scottish Championships, we were hoping it would stay dry although Paul Davies was praying for rain as it would help to sluice down the main driveway of the college before the staff and students arrived on Monday morning.
The full course started on the high ground to the south of the college buildings and took in the savage off-camber slide along the face of the hill. Following this the riders tackled some root-filled singletrack before coming into the event arena where there was a series of switchbacks through the tape, cunningly incorporating some slip-sliding slopes and muddy sections.
Out of this and back through more trees, a bomb-hole and the Trump Jump before climbing onto the main drive and sprinting up the hill and through the finish line. The worst was still to come as the savage run-up was next, although some of the best managed to ride it, and then it was on through the water-logged section, described by someone as being similar to cycling through wet concrete, and onto towards the pits before starting all over again.
The first race of the day as usual was the Under 8s over a shortened course and it was a close thing in the girl’s event as the latest edition of the Fraser Moodie clan, Louisa this time, fought it out all the way against her Edinburgh RC teammate Isabel Whaley. Both finished in the same time but the nod was given to Louisa as Mark Young’s timing system was measuring the decimal places…and the photo-finish just to be sure.
Both girls completed three laps of the course and lapped everyone else apart from Eden Thomson who finished 35 seconds behind this pairing.
In the boy’s race Josh Stewart (Stewartry Wheelers) was pushing all the way and took the win over three laps in 8:05 but Cameron Duncan (Falkirk Junior Bike Club) and Reuben McCloskey (Annan Youth Cycling Club) were nipping at his heels all the way. They finished in second and third spot respectively just 14 and 20 seconds in arrears.
In the Under 10s Girls we have a new generation coming through and it was the Royal Albert CC up against the mighty Deeside Thistle with Isla Cameron and Melanie Rowe sprinting it out for victory, only 2 seconds separating them in the end. Eilidh Cameron (Royal Albert CC) took third 40 seconds back.
In the Boys race in this category it was the Albert against Edinburgh RC with Harris Holmes taking the win for the Lanarkshire club. Finn Crowther and Xander Graham came home in second and third just a half-minute back.
Next up was the first of the Championship categories with the Under 12s and it was a close-run race in the Girl’s event. It was the Deeside up against Edinburgh RC and this time again, the margin was tight with Arabella Blackburn (Deeside Thistle) coming out just ahead of Niamh Waters (ERC) with just 4 seconds in hand. Hope Thomson (Deeside Thistle) picked up the Bronze just another 10 seconds behind Niamh.
In the Boy’s race it was another fight between Edinburgh RC and the Royal Albert. A more decisive win this time for Innes McDonald (ERC) but the real fight was for 2nd, 3rd and 4th positions, the riders eventually separated by just five seconds. In the fight for the finish, the Silver medal position went to Cole McCann (Royal Albert) from Martin Cunnane (ERC), with Finlay Barr finishing just off the podium.
With the Under 14s tackling the full 2.3km course we saw the first of the usual Peebles CC Championship attack. In the Girl’s race, Emily Carrick-Anderson had her dad working in the pits and she showed her strength by coming home 1:14 ahead of the second-placed rider. It was a battle for Silver between her teammate Christina McGoram and Rudie Shearer of Edinburgh RC, the Peebles rider finishing just 4 seconds to the good.
In the Boy’s race Corey Whiteford showed a clean set of wheels to keep Reuben Oakley (Tay Titans) at bay. Six laps of the course saw him finish in 36:18, 10 seconds ahead of the Tay Titans rider who just managed to hold off Calum Moir (Welwyn Wheelers CC) and take Silver by 4 seconds.
In the Under 16s Girl’s race Eilidh Shaw’s weekend just got a lot better…she’d taken Silver in the Scottish National Madison and now switched to the cold and the mud of cyclocross…and upgraded her Silver to a Gold by topping her category. She completed 5 laps in 31:12 and took the win by 37 seconds over Elena McGorum, the Peebles CC rider also finishing two minutes up on Kirsty Johnson (Edinburgh RC). The remarkable thing was that Kirsty was Eilidh’s Madison partner at the Champs and so she also crowned her weekend with another medal…only Bronze this time. A superb effort from all the girls showing an incredible skill in switching from the track to the world of ‘cross in the blink of an eye!
In the Boy’s race, Corran Carrick-Anderson had his dad working overtime in the pits but this young rider showed his class and was never really challenged through his masterclass of a performance. A more spread-out field saw him complete 6 laps of the course in 31:48 and finish 1:50 ahead of his nearest challenger. This Silver medal position was claimed by Patrick Kiehlmann of Falcons Cycling Club Bishopbriggs who finished another minute ahead of Gregor Robb (Glasgow Riderz). It was a dominant display by Corran and some of the Junior riders will not be looking forward to his entry into their category.
The Women’s race was next and incorporated the Senior, Junior and Veteran categories so lots to look out for. It quickly became clear who was the strongest as Eileen Roe (Dooleys Cycles) surged into the lead but Isla Short was keeping a close eye. Just behind in third spot was Kerry MacPhee making a brave entry back into the world of racing, with seven-time Scottish Road Race Champion Evan Oliphant working the pits for her.
Jane Barr (Velocity 44) was next through the arena with Joanne Thom (Sandy Wallace Cycles) tracking her but her rear wheel slipped away on the off-camber slope and she went down, narrowly avoided by Karly Millar (Rapha CC). Joanne would spend the race racing to get back on and while she managed at one point to overhaul Jane Barr, it was not to be as she slipped away, eventually finishing down in 10th position.
Isla Short and Kerry MacPhee were staying within striking distance of Eileen Roe but she had the situation in hand and was doing enough to keep them at bay. She eventually took out 7 laps of the course in 41:15 and finished 29 seconds ahead of Isla Short with Kerry MacPhee in third 2:26 behind the winner. Eileen was then in demand as the girls from the Royal Albert set about getting their hoodies autographed…Isla and Kerry were next with the girls also tracking down Rab Wardell to add to the tally!
In the Women’s V40 category Roslynn Newman (Female Riders RT) also completed 7 laps to take the title with Caroline Harvey (Edinburgh RC) rocking her stripy socks all the way to the podium and the Silver medal, Helen Gorman (Stirling BC) in the Bronze. It was also good to see Sian Tovey (Dooleys Cycles) racing and just 4 seconds off a podium position.
In the V50s the all-conquering Brenda Callander (Stirling BC) took the title with 1:25 in hand over Anne Chisholm (Perth United CC). It was a battle for the second step of the podium as she only finished 5 seconds ahead of Beth Clayton (RT23) to secure the Silver.
Jane Sargent completed 5 laps in 42:44 and claimed the V60 title to become Scottish National Champion in her category.
With the Junior Men riding with the Veterans, the young whippersnappers were soon carving their way through the field…and just like last year it was a fight between Leslie Bike Shop teammates Rory McGuire and Jamie Johnson. Both boys have shot up in height but it hasn’t stopped Rory clowning for the photographers when he got the chance. It’s not all clowning around though as he shot round the race, covering 7 laps of the course in 38 minutes dead.
Last time out at these champs a year ago, both boys had been riding as Youths and had fought shoulder to shoulder throughout the whole length of the race, Jamie Johnson taking the win by the width of the tread on his tyre. This time it was a more measured win from Rory as he finished 52 seconds ahead of the rider from Rhu. Alex Ball (West Lothian Clarion CC) claimed the final medal almost 4 minutes after the winner had finished.
Making it a father and son weekend Barry McGuire had a race-long fight with James Melville (Glasgow United CC) and Brendan Roe (Dunfermline CC) but he came out top in the fight for victory in the V50 category. It was close though with McGuire claiming Gold with 17 seconds in hand over Melville and Roe a further 16 seconds back.
Eternal youth Gregor Grant (Moray Firth CC) added the Scottish National Cyclocross title to the Scottish Cross Country title that he won this year in Dunoon. He gave a classy performance and completed 6 laps of the course in 40:29, finishing almost 3 minutes ahead of second-placed rider Graham Brown (Stirling BC). Another minute back Michael Graham claimed the final medal and took Bronze.
The V40 category is always the hottest race on the ticket and this year David Lines (Wheelbase Castelli MGD) took up the challenge. The Falkirk Fireman is undoubtedly one of the most popular characters in the Scottish cycling community and he had come prepared to win this title. Straight from the off, he was into the lead and he would hold it all the way to the end but that doesn’t really tell the whole story of the race.
Mountain bike champion Chris Buchan would chase him all the way and in the last couple of laps he began to hunt him down. This wasn’t so much Lines slowing up…it was more of an increase in pace by Buchan and when they came to the line for the final time, there was just 10 seconds in it. That could have been wiped out by a fall or a slide but Lines held his nerve and finished to some very popular applause from the spectators. Coming home in 3rd spot for the Bronze medal, and doing so in his own inimitable style was Craig Hardie (Hardie Bikes), wheelieing all the way up the home straight, one hand in the air like a rodeo rider.
Craig Hardie was 3 minutes down but just 17 seconds behind him was Gary MaCrae (Leslie Bike Shop) with Malcolm Bain (Granite City RT) another second back.
We don’t really do rider of the day prizes but if we did it would surely go to David Lines. Not content with winning the V40 title, he lined up at the start of the Open race and prepared to do it all again. He had younger opposition this time and Gary MacDonald (Nevis Cycles RT) and Dave Duggan are in the form of their lives.
Once again it was a start-to-finish ride by MacDonald but Duggan was snapping at his heels all the way. A commanding performance from the two riders that have been chasing each other all season long but MacDonald completed 10 laps of the course in 58:33 with Duggan finishing just 37 seconds back to secure Silver.
The story of the race though was in the next placings as David Lines had conserved enough energy, or recovered quickly, to hold onto 3rd spot ahead of some fast finishing younger riders. With only a couple of laps to go Richard McDonald (Bioracer-Project GO) had looked secure in 9th position after a couple of early spills but all of a sudden he was speeding through the riders ahead and ended just 14 seconds off the podium, in the same time as Charles Fletcher of the Cairngorm CC.
Struan Pryde (Pedal Heaven RT) is without equal when it comes to clowning for the camera and is always ready to perform. However, it was a determined rider that finished in 6th place ahead of Rab Wardell and John MacKenzie (SR Albannach), even if he still had time to throw his hands in the air in horror as Jammie called him Sean Pryde at one point as he passed.
Now it was just Gavin McDougall (Gamma RT), Craig Owen (Harts Cyclery) and Morgan Bown (Spokes RT) who finished on the same lap as the winner, Special mention to Morgan Bown who had been right with the leaders through the opening stages and looked set for a good fight with the top riders until mechanical issues set in…he ran up the home straight on more than one passing in order to get back to the pits.
Another mention in dispatches to David MacNeil (Team Andrew Allan Architecture) who suffered a mechanical mishap early in the race and we can only assume he didn’t have a spare bike because he seemed to run the course carrying his bike for at least 3 of the 7 laps he completed.
And so we’ve reached the end of another championship season that has seen fantastic performances from riders old and new, records not just broken but absolutely smashed and faces that will feature on the world stage in years to come. 2018 has been a bumper year but the riders are ready to do it all again in 2019 so now that the calendar has been published, get entering and try to get your name into the reports!