Tuesday May 19th – Peebles Town Centre.
Words : John McComisky.
Images : Emily Linton.
Cyclocross here in Scotland is booming and banging at the moment with a plethora of individuals and clubs putting on new events at venues up and down the country for 2015 and into 2016.
A nice new addition has been the return of a cross type race to the Tweedlove Festival, and a first for Scotland with an urban, street stramash.
With a field of sixty plus riders entered on a real hotch-potch of hardware, with everything from hybrid road bikes, 29er MTB as well as the knobbly pure cross brigade, there was plenty of chatter at the Green in Peebles pre race of what was going to be the steed of the evening.
Aside from the bikes, the event really reached out in terms of inclusivity, with everything from World Cup Mountain Bikers, seasoned cross bods as well as run what ya brung racers who rocked up and cabled a number on for the first time.
And what of the course?....well it was a trully urban affair with plenty of surface change, some slalom, some punchy alleyway climbs as well as an ascent of the stairs at the “Church of the Holy Cross” before coming blinking into the night light and the main street.
The tough and relentless parcour did offer a truly fun feature of the evening, where the local kids set out stall with a large armoury of water pistols to skoosh and target each and every rider. Urban racing feeds on the oxegen of the spectators even more than the riders itself and it made for a colourful sight to see so many of the families, who attended the social ride hanging back to make some proper noise and heckle the heat races and finals.
The races proper were fast and furious affairs with a 20 minute heat to weed out the top ten in each before a 40 minute final closed proceedings.
First heat win went to the ever smiling and talented Roger Campbell Crawford (Team Thomsons) who ripped the field apart with some bale jumping prowess, top female was the ever impressive Lucy Grant (Peebles CC) who enjoyed some raucous support from her friends and family in the Tweed Valley to top the seven strong girls grid.
Heat Two saw reigning Scottish Cyclocross Champion Rab Wardell (Dirtschool/Santacruz) roll out to the line with the likes of Craig Hardie (Hardie Bikes), as well as the young team of Calum MacGowan and Stuart Wilcox, all eager to grab a spot in the final. Wardell was soon bossing it with a solid win, and was carving through the lapped riders with gusto, even having time to pop the odd wheelie in the process.
With the Peebles night air now starting to nip at the bones, the Le Mans charge along the main street soon warmed the colourful glut of riders as they headed out into the twists and turns and church steps portage. Wardell nailed it off the front with some spirited showmanship of Hardie, MacGowan and Campbell Crawford.
With plenty of scrapping going down the order the real winners were the spectators and organisers for grabbing the attentions of not only the public but even the local TV, who added even more kudos to the event.
Wardell, satisfied after his race win had this to say “ Quite simply these events are just so much fun, the area around here (Tweed Valley) really supports cycling, and the Tweedlove Festival just continues to grow with some World Class events over the fortnight, great event for the down and a challenging course”
The ride of the night had to go to the diminutive Lucy Grant who more than held her own in amongst the top male finalists, even managing to nip prolific Scottish TT rider and erstwhile cross racer Gary Robson in the process.
With fading light the inaugural Lovecross was put to bed, heres hoping this is just the first stab at urban cross here, and sand pits, tabletops and even more tomfoolery can be added to future editions.
First Three in the first ever Lovecross:
Men – 1st Rab Wardell, 2nd Craig Hardie, 3rd Calum MacGowan