1st Quarter Of Quaich
17.1.17 Rouken Glen Park, Giffnock.
Albannach will be our hosts for the first Cyclocross race of 2017. This race is the first of four in the Super Quaich Series. The course is looking very professional with all the scrim and sponsor banners flying on Endura Hill. The setup crew have done a smashing job turning the park into a Cross course. I am always amazed at the vision the course builders have and how they manage to pull it all together and give us riders a brilliant day of racing.
I shall be racing in the “B” races this series as I know I am not fast enough to get into the top five and earn promotion. With that being said I will give it my all. I manage to get one lap in to check out how the course is running, very different to the last two years. The previous years have been raced on snow and ice. Today’s offering is going to be a lot of brown stuff, as the snow melted the day before leaving the ground rather soft.
I strip off my outer layers and reveal my new kit for the season, blinding half a dozen folk in doing so! Time to head down to the start line, fight my way through the crowd and sneak in front of a few people and share some banter with Happy Trails CC riders. More riders assemble and the start shoot is getting a bit cramped for space and wheels are overlapping in every direction. I just hope everyone takes it easy and we get off to a good start.
Toot,Toot, Toot we are off. Well, the front of the grid are off and racing. It takes a few seconds to filter through all the bikes until us riders further back get going. I make a slow but steady ride up the climb, catching up to the riders who were around me by the time we get to the first corner, taking you into a small woodland section. Once out the woods, you can build up speed on the open grass. I take a few positions riding the lower line along the grass. This is short lived, as soon we are about to enter the woods again my rear wheel spins out just as I hit the bend, nearly taking Ross Johnstone out as a result. He manages to dodge me and rides past into the woods.
Slog through the mud and leaves then it’s out onto the tarmac with a gentle upward slope for even more punishment! Back onto the grass and I am shoulder to shoulder with Ross again. I hear him click up a gear and I pick up speed as we hit the corner. BANG! I’m down and sliding on the grass. Over cooked it in the turn and my front wheel slips out. I am sure I hear Ross chuckle to himself as he rides down the hill. Backup and onto the bike, trying to get as much speed out of the one gear as I can, giving me momentum to ride the incline and catch the riders in front of me. I struggle to get my feet clipped to my pedals after my tumble, no option but to jump off the bike and run the hill.
Past the back of the pits taking you into more woods. The first long section was a bit of a struggle again some nice big tree roots to navigate past. The second section you followed along the side of the railway track with not a lot of room for overtaking. The third part was good to ride, it opened up slightly and I managed to start to pass the people who rode past me while I struggled at the first section. Out the canopy of the trees again and round the front of the pits, hang a sharp left and it was a sprint over the line and past MYLAPS Timing van.
Half a lap was gone and I’m doing good for positions, sitting around 20-30th. The next half of the lap proved to be just as hard. After crossing the line, you came down two nice flowing corners taking you to the bottom of the first run up. Dismount the bike and start pushing the sucker up to the top. (what am I thinking, get it on your shoulder dummy) My bike was now in the correct position and I get to the top and remount the bike without hurting my nuts. Another slight descent takes you back up onto a grassy incline that levels off taking you into the downhill chicane bends. I generally hate these, I am surprised that I actually ride this bit well and trouble free. Once at the bottom and it is time to line yourself up to tackle Endura Climb. Not a chance I am riding to the top think I manage a quarter of the way and its off the bike and run to the top.
Double hurdles are next to come, then it’s down the back of the course. It took you through the edge of a tree line then throw in some severe leg burning climbing taking you back up to some more single track through the trees. At this point, I am exhausted! I know there is a tarmac climb coming up. I’m off the bike and pushing as the singlespeed is getting a bit tough to ride all of this course.
This is how it goes on for an hour. Trees, Mud, Trees, Mud, Hills, Running/Walking, did I mention the mud? I have raced in muddier conditions but this mud just jumped on the bike and stuck like glue. After a few laps, I had to spend a few minutes poking the mud out of my rear wheel. This became a frequent problem on each of the laps. I had a pit bike I could use, but the conversation in my head about only cleaning one bike rather than cleaning two won, so the bike stayed in the pits.
I managed to somehow ride six laps and finish the race in 48th position. I really had to fight hard not to quit this race, the course was brutal with the one gear. Two laps in and I was going to chuck it, but my little boys came to see me race so I stay on the bike and continue racing, one lap at a time! I love racing RGCX as this was my very first Cyclocross race and being the park that I grew up playing about as a boy it will always be my favourite place to race.
Hanging around to take in the “A” race was fantastic, seeing some of these riders tackle the course I slogged around with such speed and skill was unbelievable at times. Huge congratulations to all the winners, but also huge respect to everyone who swung a leg over the bike and participated in both of the races.
Huge thanks to Jim Cameron and the Albannach Crew for putting on such a great race.
Next Quarter of Quaich is Ayr Burners Turn with Doonbank Trofee.