Scottish Cyclocross Championships - Foxlake - 8th December
I had the benefit of a sneak preview of this course as I managed to ride a couple of laps on it after helping with setup on Saturday. Like last year I wasn't sure that I would enjoy it. Like last year I thought it was a great course once I raced it on the Sunday . Unlike a lot of courses big sections of this one actually improved before the seniors race as riders in the earlier races packed it down and flattened the long grass.
A short journey from home and I was at the course nice and early. I had a quick ride of the course before settling down to watch the Juniors, Womens and V50 race.
After watching Maddy race hard for 40 minutes I was delighted to think that she had won the Senior Womens' title. At the time the shine was slightly taken off it by the fact that Kerry MacPhee had crashed heavily whilst battling with Maddy. However it turned out that I had misunderstood the situation and the winner of both the Junior and Senior titles was Isla Short following her fantastic ride. In isolation I think Isla was a great and deserved winner of the title. It's just a shame for everyone involved that there appears to have been confusion over how the title was to be awarded. I'd like to stress that I don't have all the facts on this one, this is just my view of how I saw it unfold on the day.
To end on a more positive note congratulations to both Maddy and Isla on two strong performances.
|Martin Steele moving in the right direction|
As the start of the Senior race approached I felt more nervous than I normally would before a race. I'm not sure why as it's not really any different to a regular series round. I had a good gridding in a fairly small field and managed to get a reasonable start.
There may have been lots of nerves in the bunch as the opening laps seemed more chaotic than normal with some slightly suspect race-craft on display. On a course like Foxlake there are a couple of tight spots but there are lots of wide sections where it is easy to pass. In general if you can't get past without making contact, physically pushing someone or taking another rider's line then you are probably doing something wrong. Just from a racing point of view it increases the risk of a mechanical or puncture ruining your own race. Over the course of an hour riding aggresively against other riders in the opening laps is unlikely to make any difference, every race ultimately comes down to who has the best legs.
I didn't have the best legs. After the first couple of laps I was going well and wasn't too far behind Dougie Shearer. Just as he started to move up through the field I started to move in the other direction. After managing to limit the damage in those laps I moved back up a few places. For most of the second half of the race I managed to maintain a constant gap to those a few places ahead but never really managed to close in.
|Dougie Shearer and Addy Pope|
Throughout the race the best atmosphere on the course was at the bottom of the singletrack descent. Most of the VCM members who had already raced had congregated with various noise-making devices including a loudhailer, an air horn and an air raid siren. The noise that everyone was making in this area certainly helped to speed the ascent of the following climb. On at least one lap I went too hard on the steep section and struggled to recover over the top.
I felt like I didn't have great legs on the day but looking at who was ahead of me it was probably just a hard race. The pace at the front was obviously pretty furious. Before this race I had only been lapped three times this season, I was lapped by the top six at Foxlake.
Congratulations to all of the champions and medalists on the day. Thanks to The Tri Centre and all their helpers for putting on such a great event.
Thanks once again to Martin Young for the photos.