The end of British Summer Time made it feel like a late start this week as I headed to Balloch for the first Lomond Shores Cyclocross, organised by Glasgow United CC.

I’m still amazed at how poor Sunday public transport is. To get the first train to Balloch (which arrived after 9am!) I had to ride to Yoker, this time on my Mango singlespeed.

The first task when I arrived helping Brian and Pat to mark the course. With it being a new event, the course was new to everyone and there were some amusing moments as we wondered if  anyone would complain if we included a river crossing. My extra weight proved pretty handy when staking out the course outline, as the park seemed to be rock with about two inches of soil on top!

Plotting a course through mud and water at 9am

Plotting a course through mud and water at 9am

Once the taping and staking was complete we chose our marshalling positions and made sure that that everything was ready for the full course opening. During the very first race some pompous idiot tried to drive through the course because “some of us have to get to work”. He evidently didn’t notice the two road closed signs he’d driven past! There really is always one.

The first race on the full course was the Youths, and Hardie Bikes’ Joe Nally once again ran out winner after another dominant performance. It looked like he may be caught after having a mechanical at the final hurdle but he managed to hold on and crossed the line 51 seconds ahead of Calum Shackley. Stirling BC’s Rhona Callander took the Youth Girls classification, finishing an impressive ninth overall.

Next up was the Junior/Vet/Women’s race. I always find it pretty hard to keep up with the different races within a race, especially in cross where riders will be lapped! It wasn’t long into this race when I heard the dreaded sound of cones blowing over. I was pretty lucky that it happened when most of the riders were elsewhere, as the whole course was blocked by tape and cones.  Brendan Roe passed while I was replacing the cones and seemed to be going well. In the end he won the Vet50 category by over five minutes!

As soon as the riders were through my part of the course I went on a hunt though the woods for anything that would weigh cones down. It was a bit of a disappointment, being in a national park and one of the country’s most famous scenic areas, that all I found were shoes, buckfast bottles and a pair of pants. Classy!

Thomsons Cycles’ Harry Johnston won the race again (and with it the juniors category), leading home Vet40 winner Gary MacRae of Leslie Bikes. Gillian Palmer took the women’s category and Brenda Callander of Stirling BC took the Vet Women’s race.

The final race of the day was, as always, the senior men’s race and with it came the worst of the weather. I haven’t seen rain so heavy in quite a while, and my “waterproof” camera case has proven to be a false claim. On the very first lap one rider’s tyre rolled off the rim, and a combination of the weather and a cut up course would dent a few riders chances.

Simon Kirkness leads the break through the woods

Simon Kirkness leads the break through the woods

A dangerous break formed fairly early, containing  Auchentoshan winner Roger Campbell-Crawford (on a cross bike!), Colin May and Simon Kirkness amongst others. They quickly built up a decent lead over the field but by the end it would be fairly strung out as the tough course took it’s toll.

Race organiser Stephen Couper on his way to seventh place

Race organiser Stephen Couper on his way to seventh place

For me, ride of the day should go to race organiser Stephen Couper, who was at the course on Saturday night, started laying it out at 6am on Sunday and managed to place seventh! In the end it was single speeder Colin May who took the win, with Pedal Power’s James Fraser-Moodie coming second. Simon Kirkness made it two podiums in a row taking third.

I had a minor scare when, after taking down about a mile of tape and stakes (with lots of help!), I went to pick up my bike at the sign on area only to discover that the sign on area was packed up and everyone was gone. Thankfully the good people of the Scottish Cyclocross world had moved it into the mall for safekeeping. Thank you!!

Once again, everyone at Glasgow United did a terrific job of organising the racing and by all accounts the riders enjoyed it as much as I did. I wish I’d taken more photos, especially since the only usable ones all come from one race. Hopefully my new camera has survived the downpour!

There’s no denying that marshalling is hard work, as you have to be alert to the many risks posed by close interaction between cyclocross racing and the driving/dog walking public, but it’s a very rewarding experience and you get a unique view of the race. Even if you can’t give up a full day, come along and give an hour or two. Trust me, it’ll be appreciated!

Full results for the day were published before we’d finished de-rigging the course, which is an absolutely incredible service!

The rest of my photos are in my Flickr profile.