2017 Scottish Cyclocross Championships: Angels with Dirty Faces!

2017 Scottish Cyclocross Championships: Angels with Dirty Faces!

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Words and images: The Press Room

It was a balmy 8˚C as we headed away from Glasgow, going north towards the Scottish Cyclocross Championships being hosted this year by Deeside Thistle CC. Sure enough though, the car’s ice warning flicked on just above Forfar and the Cairn O’Mount road looked as if it had seen some cold weather in the last few days.

It was a pleasant surprise then to find that Knockburn Loch was almost tropical by comparison and a quick trip back to the car to shed jackets after the first couple of races was in order.

We started the day with the U8s non-Championship race and Gordon Watt had not only designed a challenging course, he’d also managed to shape it just like a dinosaur; think Dino from The Flintstones! There’s always such a variety in this category and although it’s considered a ‘fun’ race, all of the riders go full gas from start to finish. It was a Royal Albert, and a Cameron, 1-2 as Isla took the win ahead of Eilidh with Zara Main from the host club finishing in third spot.

In the Boy’s race, Conan Nicholson from Hoddom Velo blitzed the field, finishing 52 seconds clear of Rhuairdh Fulton (West Lothian Clarion), with Zach Buchan coming home in third, and just six seconds ahead of Josh Buchan!  All of these riders completed six laps of the course which included off-camber slopes and switchbacks!

Next up was the first of the Championship races; the U12s and Deeside’s Elliot Rowe was determined not to be stopped. He blasted through the field and completed eight laps of the course but the Edinburgh Road Club pairing of Innes McDonald and Luis Ryder pushed him all the way, Innes finishing just 28 seconds back. All three riders completed eight laps.

And it was an eight lap ride that sealed a dominant display in the Girl’s race as Rudie Shearer, again from ERC, eclipsed the field to take victory, finishing just six seconds behind Luis Ryder. Millie Thomson from Deeside was second with Molly Evans (Grampian Tigers) in third spot.

Heading on to the full course which included a climb to the top of the 200m descent, and incorporated more switchbacks and tricky, slippery little hairpin turns, not to mention the infamous sand-trap, we were treated to quite possibly the best race of the day in the U16 category. From the off, the Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique pairing of Jamie Johnston and Rory McGuire was something to see. Shoulder to shoulder for four laps of the big course, there was nothing to split these two as they fought for victory…and it came down to a fantastic sprint out of the last hairpin turn. There was nothing between them, literally, as they came close to bumping shoulders and as they collapsed on the ground after the finish, neither of them knew who had won.

On this occasion, the title and Gold medal went to Jamie Johnston but only by the narrowest width of a tyre. Both riders were given the same time and this was over a minute ahead of Corran Carrick-Anderson (Peebles CC) who came home in third spot.

In the girl’s event it was a more straightforward affair as Anna Flynn (Edinburgh RC) settled into her stride, completing the same number of laps as the boys and finishing 59 seconds clear of second-placed Eva Young (Pedal Power RT), with Elena McGorum in the Bronze medal position.

In the U14 Boys it was an Edinburgh RC lockout as Archie Ellen fought off his teammate Alfie Atterton to come home 13 seconds to the good. Freddie Fuller rounded out the podium to make it an all red affair.

Again, another close fight all the way around in the U14 Girls as Emily Carrick-Anderson (Peebles CC) and Eilidh Shaw (Stirling BC) challenged for the win. The honours would go the Peebles rider this time with Imani Pereira-James (East Kilbride RC) coming home in third spot, but a lap down on this occasion. Four laps of that course was a fantastic performance from the winners in the U14/16 category.

Next on the card was the Junior/Women/Vet 50/Vet 60 race and this always produces a spectacle as there are races within races and sometimes it’s hard to know who to look out for.

In the Male Junior event it was reasonably straightforward as Leslie Bike Shop’s Cameron Mason set about establishing a lead over Charlie Aldridge (Stirling BC) with the actual real fight being the one for third spot between Morgan Brown (Stirling BC) and Struan Pryde (HMT with JTL Condor). Fresh from racing abroad, Mason is looking ever more like a pro racer as he settled into his stride and did enough to keep Aldridge at bay, finishing 28 seconds clear of the Stirling rider.

Fighting it out for third, Morgan and Pryde were clashing shoulders through the slalom with Pryde slipping out on the final hairpin and finishing 3 seconds behind Brown…a great fight for podium honours.

In the Junior Girls race it was a commanding performance from Anna McGorum (Peebles CC)  and she was the only Junior Girl to do seven laps of the course.  The senior women will have to watch their backs when she moves up a category! Placing second in the Junior race was another Edinburgh RC rider with Ishbel Strathdee claiming Silver and Ellie Park (Team 22) picking up bronze.

The Women’s race was another classic! If it’s your first cross race this year, and it’s going to be possibly the last race for your current sponsor, then you’re going to pick the Championship…and that’s precisely what Isla Short (OMX Pro Team) did. Looking to be in excellent form she tore up the field and eventually finished 2:36 ahead of second-placed Eileen Roe to take Gold. Eileen claimed Silver with Kerry MacPhee finishing another two minutes back to claim bronze.

In the Veteran 50 Women’s category, honours went to Brenda Callander (Stirling BC) who finished over six minutes ahead of her teammate Elizabeth Clayton (Stirling BC) with Anne Chisholm (Perth United) a lap down in third spot.

In the Veteran Female race, Caroline Harvey (Edinburgh RC) completed the set by taking gold this time out and finishing ahead of Lindsay Branston (RC Cumbernauld and Kilsyth), with Anne Murray rounding out the medal positions.

It was a commanding performance from Murray Swanson (Pedal Power RT) to see him take the win in the Veteran 50 Men’s race ahead of Barry McGuire (Leslie Bike Shop)…and just as in the earlier races this is where the real fight was as Mick Nally (Dunfermline CC) and McGuire challenged for silver and bronze. Nally would eventually finish only four seconds behind McGuire and it was excellent racing in this category.

In the Veteran 60 Men’s race, the victory went to the ever-consistent Gregor Grant (Moray Firth CC) over Graham Barclay (Leslie Bike Shop) in second, and Alex McAllister (Ayr Roads CC) in third. We spotted Gregor warming earlier on up while wearing his Orange Cycles jacket and we’re pretty sure we have photos of him wearing that same jacket back in the early ‘90s! Fantastic racing from these experienced riders.

Two more races to go and, as ever, some of the fiercest racing of all. In the Veteran 40 Men’s grouping, Crawford Carrick-Anderson (Peebles CC) went off like a rocket chased by Graeme Cross (SR Albannach), Craig Hardie (www.Hardie-Bikes.com) and Malcolm Bain (Granite City RT). One lap down though and some of the positions had swapped about with Bain now beginning to push for supremacy and Cross and Hardie right in the mix.

All the way through the race, there was nothing in it between the top men with the final positions all within 19 seconds of each other. The win went to Bain who put in a fine performance to hold off Hardie by just six seconds, with Cross another 13 seconds back.

And with the light beginning to fade, and a cold breeze making us regret having shed that extra jacket earlier on, we were onto the final Open event of the day. We’d spoken with Gary MacDonald (Nevis Cycles RT) and asked him to call it…he thought it would be very open, with the win going to either Mark McGuire (Wheelbase Altura MGD) or Iain Paton (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique). But then again, Dave Duggan has been riding so well and of course he didn’t want to discount his own chances.

Dave Duggan made the holeshot and was first onto the singletrack going through the woods, followed by Davie Lines (Wheelbase Altura MGD), Gary MacDonald and Mark McGuire but it was McGuire who had moved ahead by the time they came through the sandpit heading back to the arena. Duggan wasn’t far away and Iain Paton was just behind him, with MacDonald in close attendance and Lines right on his wheel. One lap later, passing the pits as Paton threw his glasses off, the dye was cast with Duggan just behind him, McGuire chasing in third and MacDonald followed by Lines a little further back.

The battle for third would become the race within the race as MacDonald moved ahead of McGuire but this would swap around again, MacDonald impressing the crowd with his motocross turns on the switchbacks. Paton meanwhile moved ahead of Duggan and Lines was left to try and chase down fourth  position.

In the end, it was a comfortable win for Paton, finishing over half a minute up on Duggan with McGuire a little way back but just far enough ahead of MacDonald to secure the final step on the podium.

It was a fitting end to an excellent day’s racing on a course that, while muddy in places (designed that way), had held up remarkably well considering that just 24 hours earlier it had been under a layer of snow!

The organising club, and Gordon Watt’s band of merry helpers, had put together a fantastic course and an excellent showcase for Scottish Cyclocross, and the Championships!

One more Scottish National Championship to go so we’ll see you in the velodrome on December 9th for the Madison.