With work commitments largely keeping me off the bike this summer I had no chance of racing this cyclocross season but I really wanted to take part in some way. So, when I saw Glasgow United CC requesting marshals for their Auchentoshan event I jumped at the chance.

Sunday morning public transport is a bit of a shambles, especially when you leave the house at 7:30am, so I took the daft decision to ride to the course. Why daft? Because I’d never seen Mountblow Road before. I’ve only been out on my road bike a couple of times this year but I was glad I chose it over the singlespeed, although a lack of maintenance and attention meant that I got stuck in the big ring. Typically, the Thompson’s Cycles pickup truck drove by just as I got off to fix it. Lightweight.

First up was the marshals briefing, where we got introduced and Chief Marshal Mark ran us through what would be required. I knew that it took a lot of manpower to put on race, but was astounded to see there were 16 marshalling points on the course. At a rough guess I’d say there were the same number again on all of the other tasks that were required on the day. So, next time you see a request for help, please volunteer!

plan of the course

Look at all those marshalling points!

I placed at P2 on the map with Alex, where the roads to both car parks met. We started off easy, as the kids races didn’t come onto the road, so all we were doing was directing traffic to the appropriate area depending on when they planned to leave.

It was great to see so many kids lining up to race and even though there were massive queues to sign on (pre-register online folks!) everybody seemed to enjoy the races once they got going.

With the youths and adult course going straight through the middle of the junction we were controlling, our job got just a little bit more demanding as the day went on.

Parents of the kids who’d raced were leaving at the same time as some of the seniors were arriving for their races later in the day. Thankfully the experience of the other marshals (and some walkie talkies) kept things going smoothly but it did get fairly stressful on a couple of occasions.

A special mention of thanks should go to Addy Pope of VC Moulin, who stepped into the breach to help me out when there were cars coming from three directions and racers riding through the middle!

As the races went on I did feel guilty that I didn’t give the riders as much support and encouragement as I wanted to but, with no tape or barriers and traffic potentially coming from two directions, I was afraid that any loss of concentration would be the moment a car ended up on the course. I had been looking out for Ali McGill, who I know of through work but had never met. Even through he rode past me five or six times my attentions were obviously elsewhere so it was good to finally meet at the end. He wrote a fantastic account of the race as a rookie ‘crosser. Read it.

When I was paying attention to the racing I noticed that Maddy Robinson was ripping it up in the women’s race on her rather nifty gold wheels and the Hardie Bikes youngsters were on the front for large parts of their races.

In the senior men’s race Roger Campbell Crawford seemed to be miles ahead the first time I saw him and it was a dominant performance from start to finish, taking his maiden ‘cross win.

Honestly, that’s about as much of the racing as I took in!

I was a bit taken aback (but very grateful!) when quite a lot of riders came and thanked us after their races. Just another sign of how great the cyclocross community is.

After it was all over I headed over to watch the last presentations. It was weird as I wasn’t really sure who’d be on the podiums as I’d been stood in the same place for 7hrs! It did give me an opportunity to get a couple of photos, to sit down.

Vet 40 Podium

Vet 40 Podium

Senior Men's podium

Senior Men’s podium

Even if I didn’t get as into the race as I would have liked it felt good to be a part of the event. I got a warm welcome from everyone I met and I really appreciate everyone’s patience with the ‘Cylocross Traffic Cops’. It was a really rewarding experience and I can’t recommend it enough.

Such a massive event couldn’t happen without the hard work of a large number of people. In particular, I want to mention:

  • Steven Turbitt and Glasgow United CC for arranging such a great day’s racing.
  • Mark Lang for his support, willingness to help and the supply of coffee and snacks.
  • Alex and all the other marshals who helped things go smoothly.

Hopefully see you all at Callendar Park!