Long overdue bloggerage but these three races really deserve some recognition.
Dig in at the Dock 2015.
There has has been plenty said about this event, be it about the cheeky chaps that organise it, the blustering wind that cuts in in two every year or the blessed drum troop that kept the beat for the entire race, so I will concentrate on what I saw of the racing. The race usually the last day of winter holidays before we all head back to the grind of our respective employment, is a great way to kick off the year and blow any remnants of the previous year right out yer skinsuit. It fills a category that previously hadn’t existed in that it is a mass start, every rider for themselves, battle charge for the line, this is good and bad but they get away with it.
To win you need to be at the front as within minutes a race with 140(ish) riders committing for the holeshot only ever ends one way, for us great unwashed mid packers this means accepting you will loose sight of the race very early on, getting your head down and seeing what materialises. This year I left all my warming up to the turbo trainer and checked out the bikes of those who were ‘hot-lapping’ to determine what the race may or may not be like. It was looking from the bikes like it might get a bit mucky, it was also cold, the sun dropped minutes before the start and never returned.
|once the gun fires, fuck the team|
It’s easy to forget how social the Scottish cyclocross scene is, in fact very easy to forget, with the swell in numbers over the past couple of years and the amount of new faces around it can sometimes all seem a bit alien but within the belly of the beast lies a passionate group of folk with one common goal. But anyway I digress, my warm up consisted of half an hour turning cranks on the turbo and my preparation consisted of two weeks of winter holidays eating more cheese than one person should and generally being a bit lazy. It felt a bit uneasy squeezing into lycra, that’s all we need to say on this subject. So despite this warming period I managed to be very late getting to the start line by which point approximately 120 folk had already established their place and dug their little tight shoes in to not let a chancer like me sneak in, thems the breaks.
|solid season for Ainsley, though she needs a better cap|
Soon enough the race was underway and then some time later we moved such is the effect, I charged as best I could to get further up the field and then settled in. I love this course, it really does have a bit of everything only missing gradient but as someone not renowned for their climbing prowess I don’t mind that. Very quickly I was in a group containing riders I didn’t know (one of the goods or bads of a mass start race) wondering if they were going to explode or charge, I hung on. As it transpired I ended up for most of the race with a couple of guys from Pedal Power RT exchanging places and generally keeping each other going. By the end it had got really rather cold, in fact fucking freezing, the coldest I have been at a race this season.
|this dude dared to pass me, so I threw down a hex and out he went|
Thanks to the amazing electronic timing, results were available pretty much as you crossed the line, I will only mention this once but this alone has the ability to make or break a race, gone are the days of waiting till the next race to see how you did in the previous one, possibly the biggest advance in our races over the last couple of years.
So how did we all do?
6th Simon Fairful
9th Ian Dunlop
11th Steven Turbitt
13th Addy Pope
9th Davie Graham
9th Fraser Waters
13th Martin Steele
4th Chris Duncan
3rd Maddy Robinson
8th Ainsley Turbitt
All in all not such a bad day out but by fuck was it cold.
SCX 6. Cross At the Castle 2014
Cross at the Castle hopefully shouldn’t need any introduction to anyone familiar with Scottish Cyclocross. It is as legendary as it is opinion splitting, “a cross race on the edge of the world” is a fair starting point when trying to describe it. For those of you who haven’t been, you’re selling yourself short, yes it is a ball ache to get to, yes it is always blowing a hoolie, yes it does involve at least one ferry but what do get in return? Well a gut wrenchingly beautiful venue, a gut wrenchingly torturous course and gut wrenching good time. There are opponents to this race as part of the series and I have in the past made my feeling known on this too. But a return to the race this year reminded me of just how important this race is, both for Scottish Cyclocross and for the culture, heritage and friendships that our humble little scene has nurtured. Celebrate the old school.
The course takes place on a bucolic outcrop jutting out into the Atlantic on a piece of land that could have been landscaped specifically for the purpose of holding a cross race but alas this is nature, raw and unforgiving. This years lap was a shortened one from the last time I was there, a cavalry charge had us careering into the sloppy descent that led to all the fun grassy cambers and corners before sloggin our way back to the café and into the ‘jungle’ portage and back into the wet stuff.
|Marty gets his lean on|
It wasn’t the weather for hanging around and when the pistol fired all the sprightly old blokes gave it their best and charged to be first into the technical section. I’m not so good on the all out cavalry charge starts so seemed to flounder a bit to find my pace but once on the grassy stuff I got into the swing of things. I loved all the tough corners at this one and hard to nail every lap I have to admit though my skills get flattered with the Challenge Limus tyres. As always happens the race quickly settles and you find yourself battling to get the guy in front and keep the guy behind at bay. In the end I got tantalizingly close to Rob Bloor but the laps stopped coming and he pipped me to the line. At the front Colin Shearer and Brendan Roe were having a right old ding dong with both of them being caught out by the unforgiving conditions, great rides from both of these gnarly stalwarts. Alongside us Maddy was having her own Battle Royale with Kerry McPhee, if anyone dares to think there are easy points to be had on Mull this battle for the series very quickly dispelled that theory. To the line the pair gave it everything and once more proved how close and fiercly competitive the womens series has became, brilliant to watch. Unluckily for Maddy, Kerry was the stronger on this day and took the series by just 2 points.
I didn’t follow much of the seniors and V40 as I was trying to stay warm, take photos and heckle hard. Chris Marquis again looked deceptively strong and Addy and Stevie T took advantage of the reduced senior field to get some much overdue top ten time.
Cross At The Castle is ten this year (something that came as a shock to me as someone who was at the first one!), something of a landmark for both the organiser, landowners and hardy racers who make the pilgrimage every year to race. It is looking like it will be the oldest event on the calendar for 2015, may I suggest you embrace it, forget everything you thought you knew, leave your prejudice at home and race/party hard in one of the most stunning parts of the world. You wont regret it.
We did this.
3rd Addy Pope
4th Steven Turbitt
9th Chris Marquis
17th Martin Steele
2nd Colin Shearer
8th Chris Duncan
3rd Maddy Robinson
9th Ainsley Turbitt
Knockburn Loch Scottish Cyclocross Championship
“In sport, a championship is a competition in which the aim is to decide which individual or team is the champion.”
Knockburn Loch was the venue for the 2014 SCX champs, snugly nestled way up north a hefty stonesthrow from Banchory. Organising club Deeside Thistle have had a few races up here now and have proven both the venue and their organising skills to be right up there with the best that the Scottish Cyclocross community has to offer. A good solid mix of surfaces, relentlessly pedally and (god forbid) some singletrack, its fast and torturous.
Having spent the previous night in Aboyne with Mr Steele, we managed to pitch up good and early and got to soak up all the early action.
|pic by Marty|
I should now go on to talk about Shearer getting the holeshot, Addy messing the holeshot, Maddy missing the podium. I should really go on more about my good start about watching the sun rise and dip behind the mountains and the torturous drive home over Glenshee, I should but events took a bit of a turn for the worse. Cycling legend and commentator extraordinaire (Jammy) took a bit of a bad turn and panic and confusion ensued while medics attended to him and an ambulance got him to the right place in good time. A sense of community followed as riders from the senior and V40 races held back any sense of frustration they may have had and respectfully did as they were told. Plenty has been written about Jammy and it was great to see him back recently but what it did remind us for a brief moment was, this is only bike racing, nobodies life depends on it, most of us are well fed (and if we aren’t its through choice) we have families, we have lovers, we are alive. Jammy, in a twisted kinda of a way thankyou for reminding us of this.
I’m not sure I mentioned this but I love this course.
No real surprises on the national champion front, which proves at least it works and the right people got the medals.
Senior. Rab Wardell
Senior Women. Isla Short
V 40. Gary McCrae
V 40 Women. Sian Tovey
V 50. Brendan Roe
Junior. Mark McGuire
What we did.
Colin Shearer 4th
Chris Duncan 10th
Fraser Waters 27th
Martin Steele 38th
Davie Graham 41st
Maddy Robinson 4th
Ainsley Turbitt 10th
Addy Pope 11th
Simon Fairfull 13th
Chris Marquis 22nd
So there we have it another season bites the mud and yet again it was another good one, controversy, all out war, laughter and tears in abundance. But one thing that we tend to overlook about our little race scene is how each race has a character of its own that gives us a little portal into the environment its taking place and also into the minds of the respective organisers, they say that variety is the spice of life, well, lets go hard on the seasoning then. This year really has had it all.
All that remains is to say that on behalf of Velo Club Moulin, thanks to each and every one of the organisers and your army of helpers. Enjoy the off season and charge your batteries for 2015. Thanks to The Press Room for the Dig In pics