Words and images: The Press Room

Two World Class cyclists claim the National Titles at Irvine!

It was the penultimate Scottish Cycling National Championships of 2015 and it didn’t disappoint. It had everything…and then some. Wind, rain, sunshine, hailstones, some more rain, sand, mud, slippery grass, some more sand, joy, tantrums, tears, happiness, some cross words, and to cap it all off…a turtle!

The kid’s races kicked off in the best weather of the day and were run off over a shortened course. As usual, it’s almost a case of wind them up and let them go. There are no real tactics for the very youngest competitors and they give it everything until the race is over or they run out of steam and have to be coaxed to the finish line by encouraging parents.

Or so it might seem, but the Under 8 Girls bucked this trend and finished just 1 second apart with Daisy Wilkinson taking the win from Bishopbriggs Falcons’ Nina Padmanabhan. In the Boys race Nicholas Jackson (KICC) once again showed his superiority by finishing 39 seconds up on 2nd place rider Angus Fraser-Moodie with Gareth Davies a further 3 seconds back.

Into the Under 12 Girls and it was another race-long tussle between Imani Pereira-James of Glasgow Riderz and Eilidh Shaw of Stirling Bike Club. These two lapped the field and completed the same number of laps as the boys in their race and it came down to Imani’s turn of speed as she approached the finish and she took the victory by 4 seconds. The Bronze medal position was filled by Imani’s teammate Skye Donnelly who was quite a bit ahead of her closest rivals.

In the Under 12 Boys event we had a complete show of power from Edinburgh RC’s Frederick Fuller but try as he might he couldn’t shake Pro Vision Cycle Clothing’s Ben McMullen who hung on with all his might. As they headed out on the final lap, Frederick was still in the lead, anxiously looking around to see if the Pro Vision rider was still there. We’re not sure what happened out on that final lap but somewhere Ben made his move and as the riders came into sight approaching the finish it was Ben in the lead. A quick look over his shoulder and he could celebrate in style as he crossed the line. A few seconds later the Edinburgh RC rider finished in 2nd but he was visibly upset, thumping his bars in frustration and taking a bit of time to accept that it was silver this time around.

A minute went by while the two boys got their breath back before Frederick’s teammate Alfie Atterton came home to take the final podium spot. Ben McMullen has a big future ahead of him and his dad has taught him well. He went round all of his competitors, shaking their hands and thanking them for a cracking race.

Now the races were onto the full course, taking in the long funnel of sand just behind the beach but before racing could commence, the SSPCA had to remove a full size Loggerhead turtle that had somehow been washed up beyond the high water mark and was blocking the course. Skillfully done, the turtle was soon on route to Oban to recover before being taken somewhere warmer. The course designer, Neil Walker, had made some changes to what was already one of the best courses in Scotland and at the end of the day’s racing the verdict was that it was now even better and surely suitable for a British National event. He’d added in a couple of new off-camber sections and changed the way the riders ascended the first hill, with the pits at the top of that hill…harsh if you’re running with a mechanical! The really interesting bit was a second sand section with a couple of double bumps just for good measure. Watching riders trying to power through or find a line was good fun…for the spectators!

In the Under 14 Females it was Anna Flynn from Edinburgh RC who was the star as she smoothly pulled away from her rivals and went on to lap the field and complete the same number of laps as the Boys to take the gold medal spot. In second place, Pedal Power RT’s Eva Young again showed her strength to finish 2 minutes up on Elena McGorum from Peebles CC who came home in the bronze medal position.

In the Under 14 Males it was a second win of the day for Pro Vision Cycle Clothing as Jamie Johnston steadily pulled away from the field to take the win by almost a minute and a half over 2nd place rider Rory McGuire of Perth City Cycles with Rock and Road’s Callum Reid a further 38 seconds back in bronze.

In the Under 16 Females the field began to stretch as Anna McGorum (Peebles CC) pulled away from Anna Shackley (Glasgow Riderz) just as she also pulled away from Ishbel Strathdee (Edinburgh RC) and these three riders ended by completing an extra lap to finish in this podium order.

In the Under 16 Males it was Leslie Bikeshop/Bikers Boutique’s Cameron Mason who proved to be the nimblest through the sand and he soon created a bit of distance from Charlie Johnston (Pro Vision Cycle Clothing). It was a lonely race for both riders but as excellent as these two were, the real race was for the final medal position. Struan Pryde (Deeside Thistle CC) just could not shake Discovery Juniors Alfie George. Where Pryde could put his ‘cross experience to good use and try to create a gap, George simply powered his way back to the rider in green. At the finish Pryde had just enough in hand through the increasingly muddy off-camber section to take the bronze medal by a mere 2 seconds.

Now it was the turn of the Juniors/Womens/Vet 50 race with its staggered start. The V50 men were away first with Leslie Bikeshop’s Brendan Roe having serious competition this year with the return of Kenny Kentley riding for Velocity 44. These two were a cut above and it was Roe who was first along the sand funnel but Kentley would eventually overhaul him. He never rode away from Roe at any point but kept the gap to a manageable level, only allowing the Leslie Bikeshop rider to close up a little as they approached the finish. Coming home in 3rd spot was Roe’s teammate Gary Beall, almost 3 minutes down on the lead pair.

The women asked if there could be a bigger gap between the V50’s start and theirs as they would catch them quite quickly and so it proved with the women mixed up with the men and the Juniors along the tricky sand funnel.

Ella Conelly (Contessa Scott Syncros) was first female through just a wheel in front of Lucy Grant (Peebles CC) with Stirling Bike Club’s Rhona Callander just behind them. In close order followed Anne Ewing (WV Breda) and Jane Barr (Velocity 44) with Maddy Robinson (VC Moulin) just behind them. The first three women were technically in different races with Grant in the senior event and Conelly and Callander riding as juniors.

Once clear of the sand though Grant began to forge ahead leaving her two closest rivals, Ewing and Barr, closely watching each other. This was the formula for the race with Grant stretching her lead all the time and taking the title by almost a minute and a half after racing for over 45 minutes. Ewing and Barr though could hardly be separated all race-long with the WV Breda rider eventually coming home just 3 seconds up on Barr, her former teammate from a few years ago. Lucy Grant is a prodigious talent with a big future, but modest with it too.

In the Junior Females Rhona Callander used her superior strength to stretch away from her rivals and would go on to complete the same number of laps as the senior women to take the title. Ella Conelly rode her own race to take silver a minutes and a half ahead of Callander’s Stirling BC teammate and British Junior Circuit Race Champion Jenny Holl.

In the Male Juniors it was John MacLeod of Spokes Racing Team all the way but he was pushed hard by Craig Gow of Tyneside Vagabonds CC who finished 41 seconds back. Calum Shackley would finish a further minute back to take bronze but it was another strong ride from the Glasgow Riderz junior.

We also had the Vet Women, the V50 Women and the V60 Men in this event. The Vet Women’s race saw a great ride by local rider Janet Erskine (Ayr Roads CC) who finished over 2 minutes ahead of her nearest rival to take the title. In silver spot was Marie Meldrum (Nevis Cycles RT) with another strong performance from the rider with the stripy socks, Caroline Harvey (Unattached) in bronze.

The V50 Women’s title went to Elizabeth Clayton of Stirling BC with a 3 minute lead over 2nd placed Anne Chisholm (Perth United CC). The host club’s Catherine Logan (Walkers CC) rounded out the podium to take bronze.

In the Men’s V60 Alexander McAllister (Ayr Roads CC) completed an extra lap to take the gold spot ahead of Walkers Cycling’s John Walker in 2nd and Sandy Wallace, riding for Fife Century RC, another 29 seconds back in 3rd.

Now it was the turn of the superfast V40’s and straight from the gun, as usual, it was Glasgow United CC at the head of affairs, not with Stephen Jackson this time, but the ineligible for the title, Hans Forhaug. Jackson was not far behind but warming to the course was Gary McCrae (Leslie Bikeshop/Bikers Boutique). This has been the formula for the season with McCrae taking a lap or so to warm to the course…but warm to it he did and he eventually overhauled Forhaug and began to pull away. On this type of course with so many opportunities for moving obstacles, the time gaps were never going to be huge. McCrae was very smooth but being the lead rider he had to clear the course as he began to lap the field. Those coming behind him had an advantage as the lapped riders now knew the leaders were approaching again but McCrae was his usual respectful self, thanking those riders that he passed.

Forhaug kept the deficit to a reasonable level but the medal positions would go to those coming up behind him. And the next 14 riders were all going round within seconds of each other. Ultimately 3rd to finish and claim the silver medal was the man from the granite city, Alister Watt (Granite City RT), making it a successful trip south. He finished just over a minute behind Forhaug but, crucially, 25 seconds ahead of the fast-starting Stephen Jackson who finished 4th and took the bronze medal. The riders coming in behind were all separated by a handful of seconds in what was yet another exciting race.

And now it was the turn of the Senior Open event, last race of the day. In the visiting Grant Ferguson (Betch.NL-Superior-Brentjens MTB RT) Scotland has a world class rider but he came home to race this course last year and take the win. Up against him was David Lines (Velosure Starley Primal) and in his first ‘cross race of the year, Rab Wardell (Unattached) on a borrowed bike. Having won the British Under 23 Championships in January, Ferguson was keen to get his first senior title in Scottish ‘Cross and what better place to do it than on the course at Irvine.

Wardell was the defending champion but having recently won the Race the World event in America his opportunities to ride ‘cross this year were non-existent. Davie Lines is Mr Consistency and if Ferguson hadn’t been present he would have taken the title in convincing style.

True to form, having rained heavily earlier on, the dark clouds blew in from the west just as the race started and a war of attrition began, Fighting the at-times gale force gusts the riders were now cutting up several sections of the course which earlier on had proved no problem at all. The off-camber sections began to get really slick and a number of riders slid out on the slopes. The section coming into the finish straight turned into mud and it was a real test of bike handling skills to negotiate it successfully and at speed.

Ferguson steadily pulled away from Lines just as the Velosure man steadily pulled away from Wardell. The Betch.NL rider eventually finished two and a half minutes up but Lines said that it still felt like a win as riding against Ferguson is like competing at another level. Wardell, despite his lack of ‘cross riding, is a class act and finished a further minute back to take the bronze medal position but he was pushed hard all the way by Hope Factory Racing’s Gary MacDonald who is riding at another level this year. Finishing in 4th was the course designer himself Neil Walker (Walkers Cycling) putting the revival of his racing down to his running. Not too far behind, and boding well for the future, were Harry Johnston (Pro Vision) and Calum Magowan (Peebles CC).

All in, after a weekend of torrential rain and flooding, the Scottish National Cyclocross Champions were run off in fine style by Scott Kerr and his team at Walkers Cycling…and caterers serving delicious home-made pizzas was an added bonus. We all wish the turtle well and hope he sees warmer weather soon!

Results: including lap times

Photo Gallery: The Pressroom

1 Grant Ferguson (Betch.NL-Superior-Brentjens MTB Racing Team) 48:15:00
2 David Lines (Velosure Starley Primal) 50:41:00
3 Robert Wardell (Unattached) 51:38:00
4 Gary MacDonald (Hope Factory Racing) 51:55:00
5 Neil Walker (Hope Factory Racing Walkers Cycling Club) 52:38:00
6 Harry Johnston (Pro Vision Cycle Clothing) 52:57:00
7 Calum Magowan (Peebles CC) 54:01:00
8 Michael Nicolson ( 54:23:00
9 Allan Clark (Velocity 44 Stirling) 56:44:00
10 Ryan Fenwick (Team Moda-Anon) 57:13:00
Junior men:
1 John MacLeod (Spokes Racing Team) 43:09:00
2 Craig Gow (Tyneside Vagabonds CC) 43:50:00
3 Calum Shackley (Glasgow Riderz) 44:58:00
Veterans 40-49:
1 Gary McCrae (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique) 41:54:00
2 Hans Forhaug (Glasgow United CC) 42:24:00
3 Alister Watt (Granite City RT) 43:28:00
4 Stephen Jackson (Glasgow United CC) 43:53:00
5 Graeme Cross (The Bicycle Works) 44:24:00
6 John McCaffery (Pedal Power RT) 44:36:00
7 James Melville (Glasgow United CC) 44:45:00
8 Crawford Carrick-Anderson (Peebles CC) 44:53:00
9 Wayne Barr (Velocity 44 Stirling) 45:09:00
10 Franco Porco (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique) 45:17:00
Senior women:
1 Lucy Grant (Peebles CC) 46:56:00
2 Anne Ewing WV Breda) 48:20:00
3 Jane Barr (Velocity 44 Stirling) 48:23:00
4 Madeleine Robinson (Velo Club Moulin) 50:45:00
5 Ruth Fraser-Moodie (Pedal Power RT)
6 Kate Carmichael (Hervelo Cycling) 
7 Morven Brown (Dales Cycles Racing Team Scotland) 
8 Elizabeth Adams (Glasgow Green Cycle Club) 
9 Amanda Tweedie (Velocity 44 Stirling) 
10 Gillian Palmer (Sandy Wallace Cycles) 
Junior women:
1 Rhona Callander (Stirling Bike Club) 50:47:00
2 Ella Conolly (Contessa Scott Syncros) 
3 Jenny Holl (Stirling Bike Club) 
Veteran women:
1 Janet Erskine (Ayr Roads Cycling Club) 42:41:00
2 Marie Meldrum (Nevis Cycles Racing Team) 44:50:00
3 Caroline Harvey (Unattached) 46:12:00
4 Lorna Sloan (Walkers Cycling Club) 46:24:00
5 Lindsay Branston (RC Cumbernauld & Kilsyth) 46:44:00
6 Ainsley Turbitt (Velo Club Moulin) 48:59:00
7 Sian Tovey ( 49:43:00
8 Brenda Callander (Stirling Bike Club) 50:59:00
9 Diane Clayton-Chisholm (West Lothian Clarion CC) 52:33:00
10 Elisa Smith (Velo Club Moulin) 52:58:00
Veteran 50:
1 Kenny Kentley (Velocity 44 Stirling) 45:41:00
2 Brendan Roe (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique) 45:54:00
3 Gary Beall (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique) 48:25:00
4 Graeme Gow (Tyneside Vagabonds CC) 48:32:00
5 Mark Barnett (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique) 49:08:00
6 Colin Shearer (Velo Club Moulin) 49:08:00
7 Gregor Grant (Moray Firth Cycling Club) 49:29:00
8 Robert Bloor (Edinburgh RC) 49:47:00
9 Malcolm Dunlop (Velo Club Edinburgh) 50:00:00
10 Neil Raitt (Angus Bike Chain) 50:06:00
Veteran 50 women:
1 Elizabeth Clayton (Stirling BC) 45:03:00
2 Anne Chisholm (Perth United Cycling Club) 48:11:00
3 Catherine Logan (Walkers Cycling Club) 49:19:00
Veteran 60:
1 Alexander McAllister (Ayr Roads Cycling Club) 50:49:00
2 John Walker (Walkers Cycling Club) 47:31:00
3 Sandy Wallace (Fife Century RC) 48:00:00
Youth male:
1 Cameron Mason (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique) 34:00:00
2 Charlie Johnston (Pro Vision Cycle Clothing) 34:54:00
3 Struan Pryde (Deeside Thistle CC) 35:23:00
Youth female:
1 Anna McGorum (Peebles CC) 40:45:00
2 Anna Shackley (Glasgow Riderz) 42:52:00
3 Ishbel Strathdee (Edinburgh RC) 43:45:00
Under 14 male:
1 Jamie Johnston (Pro Vision Cycle Clothing) 36:01:00
2 Rory McGuire (Perth City Cycles) 37:24:00
3 Callum Reid (Rock And Road Cycles) 38:02:00
Under 14 female:
1 Anna Flynn (Edinburgh RC) 42:21:00
2 Eva Young (Pedal Power RT) 
3 Elena McGorum (Peebles CC) 
Under 12 male:
1 Ben McMullen (Pro Vision Cycle Clothing) 14:36
2 Frederick Fuller (Edinburgh RC) 14:40
3 Alfie Atterton (Edinburgh RC) 15:50
Under 12 female:
1 Imani Pereira-James (Glasgow Riderz) 16:06
2 Eilidh Shaw (Stirling Bike Club) 16:10
3 Skye Donnelly (Glasgow Riderz) 
Under eight male:
1 Nicholas Jackson (KICC) 04:23
2 Angus Fraser-Moodie (Unattached) 05:02
3 Gareth Davies (Unattached) 05:05
Under eight female:
1 Daisy Wilkinson (Unattached) 05:34
2 Nina Padmanabhan (Falcons Cycling Club Bishopbriggs) 05:35