It seems like every one of these cyclocross blogs starts with me whining about the terrible service offered by public transport on Sundays. Sorry, but today is no exception!
I left transport planning late this week, making the dangerous assumption that I could ride to Glasgow Central and jump off the train at any one of five stations within 5 miles of Strathclyde Country Park. Just before 11pm on the Friday I checked the train times and was confronted with the horror that was engineering works. Being unable to take a bike on the replacement bus service I got my hiking gear out and aimed to walk the 2.5miles down from Bellshill station.
So, after being directed to Waterloo St by Scotrail staff, I stood for almost an hour in the freezing cold for buses that were actually leaving from Gordon St. Scotrail’s Twitter guy was very helpful, but by that time I knew I’d miss the kids and youth races. Thankfully one of my friends who lives in the area recommended I jump on the bus to Bothwell and walk over from there, which turned out to be great advice. Two and a half hours after leaving my flat, I was finally on my way!
After sliding down the hill from Bothwell I made it to the course for the start of the Women/Junior/Vet50 race, which is usually one of my favourites. It didn’t start too well this time though.
I had taken up position just beyond the first corner to get photos of the riders coming through while fighting for position. Unfortunately as the women came through someone misread the course, turned too early and there was a nasty crash. After helping to get the riders back on course I noticed that it was Morven Brown, who’d been riding very well in this year’s series, who had come down heavily. Two guys who were closer to the incident than me had got her to her feet and wrapped her up, so I had a quick look to make sure her bike and kit was safe (and off the course) before heading off to find a marshal. Not how you want the day to start!
Taking a wander round the course, the ground was much softer than I expected it to be so early in the day. Maddy Robinson (VC Moulin) was in fine form, storming off the front right from the start.
I’d been trying since Auchentoshan to get a photo of Maddy’s gold wheels and managed to get about ten this week. Photo opportunities are like buses…
Kerry MacPhee (Rock & Road Cycles) had started strongly, but succumbed to a broken rear mech three laps in and did not finish. This left Maddy Robinson out front on her own, and even with a bike change she held on for the win. Lyndsey Carson (Team Thomson’s Cycles) rode very well to take second spot, twenty seconds ahead of Gillian Palmer.
In the Vet50 race Brendan Roe, who has been unbeatable this year, was flying and was soon mixing it up with the juniors, who were the first group away. Pedal Power’s Bill Young followed Roe home for the fourth time this season after a strong ride, with the podium completed by Malcolm Dunlop of VC Edinburgh.
The junior men’s field was led by Harry Johnston (Team Thompson’s Cycles) from the first corner, and although Jamie Mason (West Lothian Clarion) pushed him hard he managed to hold on for the win.
Conor Nally (Hardie Bikes) and Rory Mellis (TheBicycleWorks.com) had an epic battle for third, with Mellis taking the final podium spot by twenty seconds. Nally was one of a long line of riders who broke his rear mech and had to do a bit more running than planned.
The low winter sun was warm and welcome, but it made taking photos pretty difficult. There were some beautiful shadows and autumn colours in the woods, but in some places the course was dark and in others broad daylight, some were both at once!
The rest of my photos from this race are on Flickr.
Men’s Vet 40-49 Race
Although Gary McCrae has won all three rounds of the series so far it has been far from easy, with clubmate Franco Porco and Glasgow United duo Stevie Jackson and James Melville hot on his heels.
Jackson took the fight to the Leslie Bikes/Bike Boutique team early, holding a four second advantage at the end of the first lap.
The course would have a profound impact on this race, with Porco puncturing on only the second lap while in second place, but he soldiered on and finished second last. Chapeau! Next to get the Strathclyde Park welcome was Stevie Jackson, who had a mechanical while leading and ended up third. I’m hoping it was just the curse of the course, and had nothing to do with the fact his bike broke just after I’d cheered for him!
This left the race pretty open and John Woodrow (Sandy Wallace Cycles) took up the chase, riding well to come in about 30 seconds behind McCrae.
The rest of my photos from this race are on Flickr.
Open/Senior Men’s Race
The senior men’s race (it’s not really open if you need to be male and aged 19-39!) has been a little unpredictable this season, with different winners in each of the series races, which makes it particularly exciting to watch.
With David Lines (MG Maxifuel) on the grid after winning at Knockburn Loch last week he would probably be the favourite, but series leader Colin May, Auchentoshan winner Roger Campbell-Crawford and in-form Simon Kirkness all lined up in a strong field.
The race started fast, with Perth United’s Mark McGuire off the front for the first lap, but he was reeled in. A strong group developed at the head of the field with Lines, May and Sean Clark involved. The pace was kept high, with fairly regular attacks allowing the contenders to feel each other out.
To be honest I was too busy playing Jammy’s colinmaythesinglespeeder bingo (I counted 19 – anyone else?) and taking photos to take in a lot of the nuances of the race, but when David Lines bided his time and made a massive effort on the big climb to get away from the others, rolling in alone abut twenty seconds ahead of Colin May. I was really pleased for Sean Clark who took third after being robbed of a podium at Lomond Shores by a broken mech on the last lap.
The rest of my photos from the senior men’s race are on Flickr as well.
The guys at EKRC did a fantastic job and deserve a lot of credit for their hard work. I had a great day out, the weather was perfect – cold, dry, but hideously muddy – and the racing was exciting. The course took no prisoners and will probably keep bikes shops all over the country in business through the winter, but it made for a great spectacle.
Thankfully the journey home was a fair bit easier than the morning!