What happened to all the mud and rain then? Certain top riders are starting to complain about the lack of ‘proper’ cross conditions due to the decidedly unscottish dry weather we’ve been seeing lately. It didn’t seem to put anyone off though - we saw another good turnout at the inaugural SCX Strathclyde Country Park race. Congratulations to Guto Williams and the East Kilbride Road Club for organising a brilliant race. Right next to M&D’s theme park, the course was a bit of a roller coaster and it really was a case of ‘scream if you want to go faster.’ Or maybe just grimace a bit - especially on the long, grassy drag up the hill... The fast section through the avenue of trees was no tunnel of love - more like a ghost train - as the riders snaked around the disused railway. As the top riders battled like dodgems others just waltzed around. But at the end of the day it was all a storm in a tea cup.... Alright, alright - I’ll stop with the theme park metaphors. Now down to the real racing! The course was brilliant. A real test of technical skill, high speeds and outright power. The autumnal day brought a slight chill to the air with a spectacular backdrop of rustic trees often sprinkling a dusting of leaves in the brisk wind. The breeze also blew the aroma from the ‘frites’ van (no mayo!) over the spectators - good business was done. Under 12/10/8Another big field for the younger generation this week with 40 starts. Callum Fernie led out the field for the Edinburgh Road Club with wee Cian McCrickard bringing up the rear. It was a long lap but when the riders reappeared Jamie Willoughby was leading. Callum charged past him on the back straight though, both of them being chased down by Seann Flynn. The field had really spaced out on the first lap - Rhona Callander had taken the lead for the girls with a good gap back to Helen Mitchell.Calum maintained his lead to the finish, powering home ahead of Jamie. Sean came in just after them - making it a first and third for ERC. Egged on by the gathering crowd, Sandy Hall and Murray Fotheringham put on a good sprinting display, Sandy just getting the better of Murray on the line. Cian McCrickard came in after completing his demanding lap - a big smile on his face. Happy days.
Under 12: Girls 1st Rhona Callander - Wallace Warriors 2nd Helen Mitchell - Stirling BC 3rd Jenny Hall - Wallace Warriors Boys 1st Callum Feenie - ERC 2nd Jamie Willoughby - ERC 3rd Sean Flynn - ERC
Under 10: Girls 1st Rhona Samphier - Wallace Warriors 2nd Abbey Stewart - Glasgow Riderz3rd Anna Shackley - Glasgow Riderz Boys 1st Robert Fernie - ERC2nd Hamish McLaren - Johnstone Jets 3rd Oliver Russell - Glasgow Riderz
Under 8: Girls 1st Morvern Yeoman - East Kilbride RC Boys 1st Murray Fotheringham - Unattached 2nd Louis Savage - Glasgow Riderz 3rd Gregor Robb - Glasgow Riderz
Under 16/14 There were 31 starters for the half-hour Youth’s race. Stuart Wilcox was fastest off the line and resplendent in his white skinsuit - just as well it was a fairly dry course. He was chased off into the trees by Tom Arnstein, Cameron Balfour & Ian Paton. On the next lap Tom had assumed his usual position at the front of the pack but Ian, Cameron and Stuart were all in a tight bunch just behind him. Those four played cat and mouse with each other for the next few laps but Cameron had dropped off the pace by lap three. Disaster stuck for Tom on this lap with an off allowing Ian to make his move and take the lead. Not letting up all the way to the end, he finished the race with a commanding 20 second lead over Tom. Stuart took third place on the podium, Cameron took fourth. There was a good tussle for fifth, with Callum Foster eventually getting the better of Callum MacGowan & Stuart Balfour (bringing it home for first and second in the under 14’s race). Ian is now swearing by a full English breakfast pre-race as this was his prep on this occasion. Here here!In the girls’ race Lucy Grant led from the start, quickly gaining a gap that the other girls could not bridge. Emma Borthwick gave the best chase though and finished first for the under 14’s.
Under 16: Girls 1st Lucy Grant - Peebles CC/Alpine bikes 2nd Rebecca Leith - Discover JCC3rd Heather Arbuckle - Unattached Boys 1st Ian Paton - Square Wheels 2nd Tom Arnstein - Velo Ecosse 3rd Stuart Wilcox - i-Cycles
Under 14: Girls 1st Emma Borthwick - ERC 2nd Isla Short - Glentress Riders 3rd Phillipa Samphier - Wallace Warriors Boys 1st Callum MacGowan - Peebles CC/Alpine Bikes 2nd Stuart Balfour - Peebles CC/Alpine Bikes 3rd Conor Nally - Carnegie Cyclones
Vets / Women / Juniors A field of riders 87 riders poised at the brink of the big dipper... ah sorry... on the line at the top of the main start / finish area. From the gun the front riders battled for position into the first corner. James Melville - back from injury - led, closely followed by Alan Quinn for a Glasgow United CC one two. The two were closely followed by John McCafferty and Gary McCrae. James’ enthusiastic start soon faded to a cry of “I am knackered already” and he started to drop back down the numbers. By the first time over the line for lap two the field was being led out by junior rider Scott Lindsay. Hot on his wheels was Gary, John, Alan, Mick Nally and Franco Porco. By the forth lap Gary had caught Scot and started to build a lead off the front of the bunch. Franco started to put on a charge and reeled the riders in front of him. Almost every lap saw another him move up another place. Further down the constant flow of riders Alexis Barnes fought her way through from the back of the grid into the top 20 of the vets race. This powerful display kept her clear of the chasing female riders of Brenda Callander and Maddy Robinson. With Scott Lindsay continuing to battle with the top vets the rest of the junior riders chased on: Ross Green and Jack Taylor finished second and third respectively. Juniors: 1st Scott Lindsay - i-Cycles 2nd Ross Green - Stewarty Wheelers 3rd Jack Taylor - Drumlanrig Rik’s Bike Shed Women: 1st Alexis Barnes - Team Icarus 2nd Brenda Callander - Stirling Bike Club 3rd Maddy Robinson - Velo Club Moulin Vets: 1st Gary McCrae - Team Leslie Bike Shop/Right Move Windows 2nd John McCaffery - Team Leslie Bike Shop/Right Move Windows 3rd Michael Nally - Dunfermline CC
Seniors Fifty men resisted the temptation of the frites wagon (seriously - where was the mayo?) to line up for the start of seniors’ race. First round the start of the course and past the spectators was Douglas Shearer - if that’s what he can do on a mountain bike he’s going to be trouble when he picks up his new cross bike this week. Filing through behind him were Craig Hardie, Paul Newnham, Andy Wardman, Sean Clark & James Fraser-Moodie. By the time the riders reappeared on the horizon however it looked very much like there was only only man winning today’s race - Craig Hardie. He was simply flying over the grass, all the weeks of racing grass track over the summer really paying off. He was being chased by Paul, James, Andy, Davie Lines (sporting a lovely tan from competing in Delhi), Greig Walker, Neil Walker and Sean Clark but by lap three he had extended his lead even further. James’ hopes of catching him were dashed when his rear mech broke so it was up to the others to give chase. No-one could get anywhere near Craig over the following laps though so the battle was on for second and third. Craig even had enough of a gap to commentate on himself on the way past: “better this week.” So it would seem Craig. Neil and Paul were having a good old ding dong for second but Greig caught them and will only small gaps between the three of them the podium could have been anyone’s. On the bell the order was Craig, Paul, Greig and Neil. There was a dramatic moment in the last lap when Craig lost concentration and ended up sliding along the grass (white bar tape mucky again), but with almost a minute and a half to spare he had time to dust himself off, get back on the bike, wave to the crowds, sign autographs, pose for photographs (not all strictly true but you get the idea) before crossing the line for his first win of the season. Paul held off Greig for second, Neil finished fourth. Andy Wardman came in fifth, having spent the race making everyone else look just a little bit slow on the banking up the side of the bridge.
Seniors: 1st Craig Hardie - Hardie-Bikes.com 2nd Paul Newnham - Team Leslie Bike Shop/Right Move Windows 3rd Greig Walker - ERC