There was plenty to discuss before the any of the races had got under way for round four of the Ridley Scottish Cyclocross Series. Riders were made aware on the morning of the race that the traditional venue would be bereft of it's classic feature of the steep banking ride down to the river bed and the monumental run up that has been a feature of the course for well over a decade. There pros and cons to the decision made, and as cyclocross riders, we will ride where ever the tape and stabs are laid out. The revised section of the course made the lap a lot shorter, and did not offer much in the way of a riding challenge, but Glasgow United, Stevie Couper and the band of helpers should be applauded for all the good work that has been done over the last few years to make good some technical switchback and added off camber that when even a little slippery do constitute a riding challenge.
On to the event itself, and close to 400 riders fronted up in the mild autumnal conditions to take on the Tosh, and its revised course.
In the Senior class Robert Wardell (Orange Monkey Pro Team) would be looking to take his third win of the year, and with Grant Ferguson a no show, his strongest challenge would come from a brigade of development riders such as Mark McGuire (Bicycles.co.uk) and Thomsons duo Jack Ravenscroft and Harry Johnston. Also making a welcome return to the series would be a bronzed David Lines (Starley Primal) fresh from vacation and a Friday night win at the Hallocross event put on by James McCallum.
With the course at it's most cut up all day Wardell was soon slugging it out with the young team and in particular McGuire, Ravenscroft. The top boys were hammering it up the slopes at the back of the course where a large and vocal crowd were in spirited heckling mode.
Off the pace but entertaining nonetheless Davie Lines treated the onlookers to as great display of wheelies while other just entertained by coming to grief on the slippery ramp. With McGuire the victim of a fall or two, Wardell wound up the wick to gap his pursuers by over a minute by race end. A deserved win on the type of course that the U.C.I Mountain bike rider simply revels in. A good second came from a really spirited McGuire and Harry Johnston, with Ravenscroft the victim of mechanicals.
I caught up with Wardell post race to get his thoughts on the day “It is always nice to take the win, but these young lads are really taking a race to me this year. I sometimes think that I am getting it easier with guys like Rob Friel, Gareth Montgomerie and other not doing the full series, but three wins from four aint too bad”
The V40 class had the organising Glasgow United riders out and about trying to stop the march of race wins collected by Gary McCrae (Leslie Bikes/Bikers Boutique). And take a race to them they certainly did Stevie Jackson has been the perennial thorn in the side to McCrae all season and has really stepped up to the mark by giving Gary the hardest challenge in recent races. He along with Hans Fourhaug, looked like they would have enough juice in the tank by race end and looked like a local win was on the cards. In the latter part of the race McCrae, who is also one of the top Mountain bike racers in the country, used this attribute and some slick overtaking to match the local boys and gave the last tatters of the race volgas to take the win, making up for the disappointment of a mechanical at Irvine. The race enthused race commentator Jammie Johnstone so much that he quipped that “They did it like they do on the Sporza Channel”.
A race that always has its thrills and spills is the Veteran Fifty, Women and Junior class. With the course in it's best shape of the day, Brenden Roe (Leslie Bikes/Bikers Boutique), who also had his daughter Eileen Roe (Team Wiggle Honda) lining up on the cross grid for the first time this year was in fighting form from the gun. He was kept honest early in the race though with his teamster Mark Barnett making his best showing of the year in second, this pair were well clear on the twisty woodland course from another good ride from .
The Women’s race proved to be a real dogfight with Isla Short (Team Thomsons) and Kerry McPhee (Rock and Road) locked in combat for the race duration, with the pair up close and personal in the woodland and dipper sections. The glory would go to Short however, and this win gave her three wins from the last three events entered. Maddy Robinson (VC Moulin) consolidated third and has been nothing if not consistent this year.
The Junior race, though lacking in numbers saw similar antics from Pearce Somerville (Thomsons Cycles) and Coner Nally (Hardie Bikes), this pair slugged it out until the final corner with Nally hitting the dirt and leaving Somerville to take the win.
The series takes a much needed break before it takes in the flatlands of Lochore Meadow, which returns to the series after a successful test event there last year.