Words and images: The Press Room
The Sally Anne Low Memorial Road Race 2018 produced a host of different winners as it once again incorporated the Scottish National Veteran Women’s Road Race Championships and saw the culmination of the Scottish National Women’s Road Race Series.
And they were all new names for this year! With last year’s winner Julie Erskine not riding, and 2017 Series winner Genevieve Whitson racing in Canada, we were going to have new Champions…and there were new entrants in the veteran categories.
Cairngorm CC is a small club but every year they put on a fantastic weekend of racing with time trials and an APR included in the programme. We were here to see the Sally Anne Low Memorial RR and to see the new Champions receive their accolades.
For those that don’t know the course, it’s a testing circuit based on Kincraig, heading southwest to Kingussie into the wind before skirting through the town, out over the level crossing, and on up past the ruin of Ruthven Barracks. Built to suppress the Jacobites, the riders had little time for sightseeing as the roads now turned narrow and twisty, with lots of ups and downs and little time for recovery.
Heading back down the valley on the rolling roads above Loch Insh, before plunging back down past the watersports centre and across the narrow bridge spanning the River Spey. And this is where the sting in the tail awaits. The climb of The Brae isn’t all that long…but it’s just long, and steep, enough to hurt and is usually the launch pad for victory.
The race was all together as they came down to the little stone bridge across the River Tromie. There were some seriously determined faces but they were holding their attacks for further down the road. The strong riders looked to be Beth Harley-Jepson (Edinburgh RC), Natalie Munro (Moray Firth CC), the Team 22 pairing of Ellie Park and Anna Shackley and the furthest travelled pairing of Velosport Jersey’s Louise Woolrich and Rebecca Steens. It was also great to see local rider Sally Devlin (Mikes Bikes Aviemore RT) at the sharp end.
We relocated to a point near the Barracks for the next pass and as they came through it was Beth Harley-Jepson leading the charge and looking like she wanted this race more than anyone else. We understand that first time up The Brae, Ellie Park had put in an attack but she was brought back on the run down towards Lynchat and Kingussie. There were now several groups of twos and threes trailing the race but most of the riders were still within touching distance of the leaders.
Sitting in the bunch was RT 23’s Amanda Tweedie, recently returned from injury and looking like she hadn’t been away. It would come as a surprise to most that Amanda was now riding in the V40 category as she was right at the head of affairs and still had time to smile for the camera. Also in the bunch was Kinross CC’s Gillian Corsie and the day would work out well for her in the end.
With the race heading onto the back of the course we made our way back to Kincraig for the finish up The Brae. It was a sprint last year and unless anyone was able to breakaway on the run-in through Insh, it was going to another trial of strength up the climb once again.
With the leading cars coming through, we waited to see who would appear around the bend…and it was no surprise to see Beth Harley-Jepson’s red ERC kit come around first, closely followed by both of the Team 22 riders. It was incredibly close though and with Natalie Munro, Sally Devlin and Amanda Tweedie all right there, it could have gone any which way. Digging deep, concentration written all over her face, Beth Harley-Jepson didn’t let up for a split second and ten feet from the line, Ellie Park and Anna Shackley knew they had to settle for second and third. Natalie Munro flashed across the line in 4th with Sally Devlin right behind her in 5th and Amanda Tweedie diving for the line to take 6th overall.
And then everyone realized that Amanda Tweedie was actually a vet and had claimed her first Scottish National Championship, a well-deserved win for the popular RT 23 rider. Also in that first group was Velosport Jersey’s Rebecca Steen and all of these riders were given the same finishing time.
Coming home 5 seconds later was the next group and the first across the line was Harriet Wilson (Glasgow University CC) and Emma Smith (Deeside Thistle CC) but claiming 10th place in the same time was Marie Meldrum (Nevis Cycles RT) and she also took the silver in the V40 category.
With Louise Woolrich finishing off that group, it was another five seconds before Ingrid Kidd (Angus Bike Chain) came home to close out the V40 podium.
Now the riders were finishing in ones and twos…Katie Priester (Glasgow Nightingale CC) and then our V50 champion Gillian Corsie. Jacqueline Ross (Ecosse Northboats) and Anna Fairweather (RT 23) crossed the line ahead of our Silver medallist in the V50 category, Kathleen Thomson (Ythan CC). We then had a short wait before last year’s V50 champion Louisa Sturrock of the host club Cairngorm CC crossed the line to close out the V50 podium positions.
The final riders came in over the next 10 minutes and then everyone headed back to the hall where there was a great atmosphere. We spoke to Sally Anne Low’s husband Iain and he said,
“This is fantastic! It’s just what she would have wanted. I can’t believe this race is going from strength to strength and I would say to anyone wanting to ride next year, get your entry in as early as possible!”
So, rounding up the awards we had two new Scottish National Champions in Amanda Tweedie (V40) and Gillian Corsie (V50), a new Scottish Series winner in Ellie Park and the overall winner of the Sally Anne Low Memorial RR in Beth Harley-Jepson with a determined and gutsy finish if ever there was one.
Roll on next year!
The next Scottish National Championship is the Team Time Trial at Forfar on Sept 23rd and already several of the teams were talking about how they’re going to enjoy having four riders in the women’s teams this year. See you there!