Sunday saw round two of the 2013 Ridley Scottish Cyclocross Series at Callendar Park in Falkirk. There are very few things that can get me out of bed early on a Sunday, but cross races seem to do the trick. The sun was splitting the sky as I left Ibrox for the train, which just didn’t feel right.

Almost as soon as I left Falkirk High I could hear Jammy’s dulcet tones in the still morning air, cheering on the under 12s on the loudspeaker. Talk about anticipation.

This was my first visit to Falkirk that didn’t involve spending time at Brockville, so it was great to discover that I’d be spending the day in a beautiful country park!

Callendar Park swans

Considerably prettier than Brockville!

After a quick stroll around the park I managed to catch most of the youth race. Joe Nally from Hardie Bikes made it two in a row, but what impressed me most was the way he made climbing the stairs look so effortless.

Joe Nally on the steps

Joe Nally on the steps

It was hard to appreciate just how steep the tabletop was until you saw riders on it up close. There was a 90 degree turn on top, which started to cut up pretty quickly, so I made a mental note to come back here later for photos.

Callendar park tabletop

Steep entry to the tabletop

The next race was the Junior/Women/Vet50 event. This would be a bit of a family affair, with Brendan Roe winning the Vet 50 category shortly before daughter Eileen took the senior women’s category. Before them though, Harry Johnston of Thomsons Cycles had won the junior category after leading for most of the race. Thomsons are putting together a powerful team who can compete across a variety of disciplines, all built on a strong base of young talent, definitely a team to watch!

Harry Johnston takes the win

Harry Johnston takes the win

I still haven’t managed to get a decent photo of Maddy Robinson’s awesome golden wheels, which is fast becoming my mission for this year’s series.

I also failed pretty miserably at getting a shot of Eileen Roe’s celebration as she crossed the line, as can be seen on Flickr. Thankfully I got one at the start of the bell lap to make up for it.

Eileen Roe takes the bell

Eileen Roe takes the bell

As the rain started I headed for cover and grabbed a vegetable curry from the aforementioned Grange Kitchen, which was superb. You can keep your pomme frites and mayonnaise!

With the course really starting to cut up I headed out around the course for the Vet40 race. With such a large field there were going to be some hairy moments early in the race while people fought for position. The table top looked like carnage, with riders going in three or four abreast and some coming off the steep slope without clipping in first. Great to watch, but probably a wee bit scary to experience.

A large field late in the day makes for classic cyclocross photography as the riders get covered in mud and there are more thrills and spills.

Gary McCrae, who I’d seen win at Irvine last year, held off the chase of Glasgow United’s James Melville and Stephen Jackson to take the win.

Gary McCrae wins the Vet40 race

Gary McCrae wins the Vet40 race

After generating this reaction, one of the corners was removed for the senior men’s race. Probably a wise move!

Mountain biker Grant Ferguson took the race by the scruff of the neck and absolutely dominated, eventually winning by over two minutes. This didn’t take anything away from the racing though. There were battles between riders all over the place, but more than anything it was a battle against a difficult and entertaining (for those of us watching) course.

Franco Porco and David Lines organised a terrific event and they were rewarded with the biggest ever field for cyclocross in Scotland – 388 riders. If the standards are going to be this high I can only see those numbers getting bigger, although we might need to invest in floodlights if we want to fit any more races in!

Thanks as always go to all of the volunteers and sponsors who made it happen, and the riders for putting on such a great display. See you at Lomond Shores!