Monday, 6 October 2014

Ridley Bikes Scottish Cyclocross Series - Round One

Words: John McComisky
Images :Martin Young

Round One of the Ridley Bikes Scottish Cyclocross Series visited the autumnal and picturesque setting of Callendar Park in Falkirk yesterday for what promises to be a record breaking season. 

Event organisers Franco Porco and a David Lines, as well as a strong support team put on an incredibly fast and exciting course, with many additions to the previous years event which featured switchbacks and drops, swoops and slick turns taking in the natural landscape of the Falkirk venue.

These features were mated with a new development for 2014 - the Ridley Bikes Steps, which offered the riders the choice of running or in some cases riding the feature. Before the racing had even started in earnest, the organisers were proud to announce that a record breaking field 469 riders, 89 of them Female, had signed up for a Scottish Series event.

The course held up well despite some overnight rain, and the scene was set for a fantastic day of racing at a venue that is more than capable of putting on National Trophy and perhaps even international events in the future.

In the Senior event, World Cup mountain biker Rab Wardell (Orange Monkey Pro Team) was soon at the thick end of the proceedings, along with event organiser Lines (Starley Primal), this pairing put the hammer down early on to shake off the attentions of an impressive Jack Ravenscroft (Thomsons Cycles) and a fast starting Callum MacGowan (Alpine Bikes). The full out riding of Wardell and Lines looked set to go down to a sprint finish in the sixty minute race until Lines un-shipped his chain on one of the many technical features and and despite raucous support from his home crowd, was unable to make inroads into the gap to on-form Wardell.

Behind all this drama Ravenscroft secured the last step of the podium despite a mid-race collision and one postition further back, it was solid return to cyclocross for Commonwealth Games rider James McCallum (NFTO Pro Cycling) in fourth.

The Veteran 40-49 class had the strongest field of the day with one hundred and ten riders taking to the grid, which included reigning Ridley Bike Series winner Colin May, who has moved up a category after winning Seniors last year to take on the might of Gary McCrae, John McCaffery, Alan Lamont and event co-organiser Franco Porco (Leslie Bike Sjop/ Bikers Boutique).

From the crowded and manic start, McCrae soon dispensed with the attentions of May and Glasgow United's wrecking crew of James Melville, Hans Forhaug and Stevie Jackson, and set into a race pace that saw him lap almost half the field before the chequered flag. Twenty seconds back in second was an impressive Colin May who divides his time between cycling and driving one of Edinburgh's trams, and a strong ride from Forhaug who was top United rider on the day.

The Veteran 50+ / Women/Junior race which is run as a split category saw Brenden Roe (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique) have to work hard after a fall to see off the attentions of Alastair Dow (Ronde) who really took the race to the reigning Scottish Champion, and an impressive ride from Malcolm Dunlop (VC Edinburgh) .

The fastest Juniors though, would end up first across the line however in the shape of Andrew Vettraino (Glasgow Riderz), with local rider Jamie Mason (West Lothian Clarion) having to give best on the day. Really worthy of note though is the lap times of the Junior riders, both of these lads are more than capable of riding in the Senior class with distinction.

In the the Women’s class, Commonwealth Games road racer Anne Ewing (WV Breda) added some international flavour to the race by putting the hurt into a twenty eight strong field who took to the parcours, Ewing, fresh from stage racing in Ireland was soon in charge of the class field and finished comfortably in front of another Glasgow 2014 star Kerry McPhee (Rock and Road Cycles), another rider with a fine pedigree in international racing, with the last spot on the podium going to the impressive youngster Lucy Grant (Peebles CC).

In the Veteran Female category, a fine ride was had by former Scottish Time Trial Champion Sian Tovey (Dooleys Cycles) who is looking like a rider to watch this year for overall honours.

The Kids and Youth events, also had a fantastic turnout in all the classes, it is such a heartening sight to see the the future stars of cycling, having a safe and well organised arena to ply their skills in the setting of the park and Central Region.

After all the sweat had stopped flying, the organisers were quick to acknowledge the continued support of Ridley, Lazer Helmets and Madison, who really have enhanced Cyclocross in Scotland. Additional race sponsors on the day in the shape of Sufferfest Training, Wheelsmith, Andrew Wilson at Visual Fit, Soigneur Embrocation and Grange Kitchen are worthy too of mention in supporting grass roots cycling events.

There is also a lot of credit due to the team at Falkirk Community Trust who have liaised with a great team of ground staff to help put on what many see as the best ever event held in Scotland.

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