Scottish Cross Championships can be a bit of a let down, numbers are generally down, everyone seems a little more focused, the enforcing agents want some attention and the race is more often than not a bit of an anti climax. Now the champs is a bit of a weird one as it is technically a regional championship but up here we have always viewed it as a national championship even though it is not recognized as such (ie. there is no Scottish Cyclocross Champions jersey) but treat it as such we do. It is a fiercely fought race and always has been.
This year the champs were hosted by The Tri Centre at the Foxlake wakeboard centre near Dunbar. I had never ridden here though had heard good reports form last years series race. The days leading up to the event had delivered some monumental rain and the drive there was a low visibility horizontal rain affair. But by the time I had passed Edinburgh the roads were drying up, maybe just maybe.
Arriving to an already filling up car park I met up with Mr Steele and Mr Graham and we decided to head down to see if sign on was possible and have a wee gander around the course, this was all achieved as smooth as butter, all praise the pre-entry system. The walk around the course coincided with the U16 race so it gave us a good idea on lines and what was ride-able as those kids don’t hang around. The course looked good, a mixture of loamy forest trails with hard packed forest road and some wet but firm grassy hillocks to negotiate. Nothing too challenging it appeared although the U16s seemed to be suffering mechanicals and punctures in particular. Maybe there was something in the ground that we couldn’t see?
Time ticked on and after the obligatory banter and catching up it was time to suit up and attempt to warm up. Nice feature was the course skirting the car park which meant from the ‘comfort’ of my turbo trainer I could see the V50/W/J race as it progressed. And of course give shouts for Maddy and Ainsley as well as torrents of abuse to those deserving it (mostly Ali Dow, who it was good to see back on Scottish soil) Unfortunately I was just too far away to really see what was happening in the race but this is what was, Maddy was having a battle royale with Kerry McPhee (Rock and Road) again but what I wasn't aware of was that Isla Short (Thomson Cycles) was already in front of them and holding a good gap. Kerry unluckily crashed somewhere mid race which is a shame as it has been good watching her progress this season, a great new addition to the womens field and Maddy was left stranded trying to chase down Isla and here is where the confusion starts.
|top of the vixens|
The women’s race contained 3 categories, J/S/V as it has all season. But the champs is a different beast, the winner does indeed take it all, its an interesting scenario. The senior women are racing against three categories for the title but the V and J are racing against only one for their title. It is possible for a V or J to win their own race and the overall, somewhat loaded against the seniors but thems the rules. And that is indeed what happened, awkwardly for Maddy this wasn’t relayed to Jammie who announced Maddy as the senior champion as she crossed the line obviously to much elation, short lived however. The rules were laid down and Maddy was denied her medal by the very talented Isla who picked up both Junior and Senior titles with a convincing ride. Rough, but its not the first time its happened. See here.
All of that was unfolding as we lined up for our race, a quick but thorough talking to by commissaire, Guto Williams and we were off, well not quite, Tom Forbes (heid commissaire) stepped in and removed a rider from the pack, some kind of license issue we deduced, the pack were restless, I felt sorry for the guys on the front row who must have been just about to pull that hair trigger. Eventually the rider was allowed back in and we got started, all a bit of a drama as we have come to expect from Tom. But finally we were off.
|sly old fox|
As you may well expect the pace was pretty frisky, I struggled to find the right gear, hit the big puddle and panicked as we entered the woods, went for a rash line that saw me ride straight over a sizable tree stump, airborn and landed minus chain which was pissing itself with laughter wrapped around the BB. Fuck it’s such a frustrating sport, so there I was trailing the whole field towards the first climb. I wont lie, my head went down, right there. I stuck at it for a couple of laps and got through some of the back end of the field but then the fizz started to run out, my only consolation was I could still see McComisky so if I could at least catch him some banter would be guaranteed, every lap when I tried to catch his eye, he wouldn’t make contact, shit, the blinkers were on, I better get my finger out, the gap was dropping but not fast enough and then there he was walking the first climb on the last lap, I caught him and discovered he had punctured, lady luck was full of tricks today. And before long it was a flurry over the hurdles and over the line. Not exactly the dream race but I had got into it and really enjoyed the course, especially the hideously hard hillock into the arena, I swear it was getting bigger every lap.
Not much time for blethering it was back to the car for a quick change and down to the woods to unleash the VCM sonic arsenal on the seniors. The seniors looked like it was going to be a fairly staid affair as a group of 4 riders went through with a smallish gap on the rest of the field but then on lap 3 or maybe 4 it just blew apart, the instigator, Iain Paton (Ben Wyvis Cycle Club) a gap had opened which had forced the chase by Davie Lines (MG-Maxifuel Pro Cycling) the pace was fairly rapid. Over the next few laps Paton stuck more and more time between himself and Lines who didn’t seem to have response to the youngster and that was that. Our guys were being treated to a sonic assault every lap and it seemed to boost them on, Stevie, Addy, Ian and Simon F, all stuck at the job till the bitter end (it felt like a long hour)
|fantastic mr fox|
And with that my 2013 season was over. Scottish Cyclocross and its associated organizing clubs can all give themselves a pat on the back, this has been an exceptional season, varied, fast, orderly and fun, yes fun. I have thoroughly enjoyed every race (it took a really bad one for me to realize that Strathclyde Park is actually ok, though I would love to see a more varied course there) Hopefully you will have read all about the fun and games at Mull in the previous posts from Simon Fairful (thanks Simon for being so punctual with these) when I have the energy an end of year report will follow, until then, then.
How we do.
Maddy 2nd (1st senior)
Simon M 10th
Davie G 31st
Simon F 18th
All photos by the Press Room
Peace be with you all.