Yesterday saw the highlight of the Scottish racing calendar, the Scottish RR championships in Balfron. For somewhere so close to Glasgow, it’s not all that easy to get to when you don’t drive (or can’t ride your bike) but it’s an incredible setting for a bike race.

Vortex RT put on one of the best promotions I’ve seen in Scotland, with a good crowd, a short, challenging circuit and things to do in the village in the 12-14minute intervals when the race was elsewhere. Oh, and summer made an appearance!

Even before leaving the flat I made the sad realisation that it might not have been dud batteries in Kirkcaldy after all – my decent camera just plain wasn’t working. So the photos are a mixture of mobile phone and old point and shoot camera. I’m just glad it was sunny.

The first bus from Glasgow got me to Balfron around half way into the women’s race, which was going at a good pace as it came through the village. Most of the bunch seemed to be together until the second last lap, when there was a pile up out on the circuit.

Kayleigh Brogan of City of Edinburgh Edinburgh RC was the strongest in the bunch sprint up Buchanan Street and takes over from Jane Barr as Scottish Champion.

I snuck into a lovely deserted café for lunch and to upload the first batch of photos, but hadn’t realised that doing so meant missing the women’s presentation. Not quite sure why I didn’t figure that out, but I was pretty disappointed to miss it.

Once the men’s race started it was obvious there would be no messing about. I know that the section through the village is almost completely downhill, but the pace at the end of the first lap was frightening. I just about managed to take two photos before the peloton was past! There were some early casualties being dropped after only a couple of laps, with the heat and the pace taking it’s toll.

I wandered around a bit, heading out onto the course to get some different shots and to try and stop my body complaining and I’m glad I did. Strathendrick is a really picturesque area, I’ll definitely need to get out there on the bike when I’m fit again. There were different breaks up the road on almost every lap, with the pace unrelenting. With one lap to go it looked  like reigning champion Evan Oliphant had missed out, being in the third group on the road, but incredible he pulled the two groups back and sprinted it out with James McCallum, with Jimmy Mac taking the win. Alastair Rutherford was third and Robbie Hassan won the bunch sprint for fourth place.

After the presentation I got some dinner at the co-op and decided to use the 2hr wait for a bus for something useful and walked back to Killearn in the evening sunshine. Cracking.

I can’t overstate what a great day it was, even if I did get ridiculously sunburnt. The organisers and marshals did a fantastic job and the whole day had a real air of professionalism about it while still feeling like a community event. Next year has a lot to live up to!

The best of my photos are on Flickr, or make the slideshow below full screen for best effect.