It feels weird typing 2014. It feels even weirder not sorting through hundreds of photos on a Sunday night.
DIATD is the brainchild of racers and ‘cross uberfans David Hamill and John McComisky. As a one-race event it draws unprecedented crowds and entries sold out in less than half an hour this year. The clamour for starting places means that there are lots of disappointed racers who come along to support the race anyway and the atmosphere they create is incredible.
There were no transport moans this time as my (considerably) better half agreed to come along and see what I was always banging on about. We arrived in Bo’ness nice and early to soak up the atmosphere and take a walk around the course.
My first impression was that the course was absolutely huge, stretching as far as the eye could see (and then some) in each direction. As we walked round there was one of those still silences hanging over the town like you only seem to get in winter. That was broken by a man dressed as a mouse playing a trombone.
After tracking down Conner Johnstone to buy some pedals (thanks again and sorry for being a pain!) we took a wander round the massive event village, looking at bikes that I don’t have space for and some really nice kit. It was like being at a bike show there were so many stalls. I bought a programme and we got Ali a cowbell. This is the kind of thing that really sets Dig In apart.
As the riders got gridded we joined the crowd that had formed at the end of the bridge. As well as “Trombone Man” there were loads of banners, bells, horns and even a really noisy hat. Oh, and a samba band!
The three favourites made their move early, with Davie Lines, Rab Wardell and Gareth Montgomerie off the front by the end of the first lap. Gary McCrae made a big dig to bridge across to the leaders on the second lap and it would be this group that would fight it out for the win.
When the queue at the Grange Kitchen died down a wee bit we went in search of their famous grub. This was timed perfectly to match the main attraction, a steam train running along the course blowing it’s whistle for the racers.
As I passed the news that there were only four burgers left up the queue I could hear Jammy say that Wardell had punctured with three laps to go.
He just ran out of time to get back to the leaders and had to settle for fourth place after looking very strong all race long.
Montgomerie, Lines and McCrae tested each other regularly but it wasn’t until the very last lap that anyone could make a decisive break. It was Montgomerie, riding for host club Pedal Power RT, who crossed the line first, followed by Lines and McCrae.
In the women’s classification the usual suspects were all going well. Maddy Robinson (sporting VCM warpaint) and Emma Borthwick put in great performances but it was Scottish Champion Isla Short who won the golden cowbell as she prepares for an assault on the British Championships next weekend.
The biggest cheer of the day was saved for well after the winners had finished. Andrew Turnbull had a nasty looking mechanical on the last lap and had to run to the finish with his bike on his shoulder. One of my favourite moments of the year was seeing Addy Pope and a couple of other riders coming back to the finish to cheer him over the line. Chapeau.
I’ve noticed at previous races that I took so many photos that I didn’t spend very long actually supporting the riders. Because the organisers put such an emphasis on support for DIATD (with prizes for loudest fan and best banner) I decided pretty early on to try it the other way round. I ended up only taking a few photos, but really enjoyed cheering and supporting all of the familiar faces that I’ve come to know over the past season. It seemed like a good way to pay a little back after such a great few months.
I can safely say that I’ll be back next year for more of the same, although by then I’m hoping to be a rider too. Thanks to everyone who made today possible, from sponsors and organisers to fans and riders. You rock.