peebles

Man Too Hot.

Super Quaich, The Third Round.

Roukenglen Park, 18.2.18.

Albannach and the Unicorn tamer Jim Cameron are the hosts of the last Super Quaich party.

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Roulenglen Park isn’t my best course, but I always look forward to it as my Mum and Dad come and join the ranks of the Two Wheel Army support crew. (also help with Victoria getting the kids out from the trees) This year’s race is a bit later on in the race calendar so no snow this year but there is still a nip in the air.

Clare is racing in the B race today, the crew and I turn up just as the race has begun. Kevin Pugh and Craig Lewis Hamilton are at the font of the race as they come through the trees and into the main support bowl. RGCX has an excellent location for spectating, 95% of the course is watchable from the sign on the tent. (this year the burger van is on hand to feed the faces of all the spectators)

Clare is slogging through lap after lap for the hour’s race. A head full of determination of not getting a DNF on her last Cyclocross race of the season. Her grit and fighting spirit gets her around the course and rolls over the finish line celebrating that she is the last rider home. Well, news for you CC, you didn’t come last, and you beat the course. That’s always the right way to end the race season.

My turn to race approaches, I say my goodbyes, and I am wished good luck as I ride down to the start shoot. I find myself late to the party, squeeze past the bunch and nestle in the right on top of a sand pit. Great, more sand! I thought I had seen enough at Irvine. Chat away to Owen Philipson, then four by four we get moved out the sand and up behind the 20 gridded riders. While chatting away we don’t hear the briefing, and before we know it, the front has burst apart, and the race is on. It takes a moment to hear the Hoot Hoot Hoot of the starting horns, but they are going off, now It’s my turn to race.

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Sprint up the slog of the tarmac hill, suck in lungfuls of oxygen at the top. Navigate the muddy lines and other racers in this condensed area. Come through the trees and out to the open grass, take a quick left and ride along the treeline and then a right turn has you coming back on yourself. The bike soon dips down, taking in the fastest part of the course, a quick descent heading past the spectator bowl for the first time. Drive up the incline with the rear wheel slipping and sliding all the way and turn right and into the woods. A narrow path keeps us all close and fighting for space. Thanks to those pesky B racers they have churned up the grass and made it sticky and slippy slog. I slowly grind my way through the first section, and as I get into the next HTCC old guard Julian passes by, he forces me off track with a close pass, and I’m leaving patches of skin from my leg in the thick bramble bushes.

I like riding the last section of the woods, I always seem to ride this part quite fast, and I gain some place as we exit the woods and ride past the pits. My tyres roll over the timing line for the first time as we race down and around to the first run-up. It’s a short, sharp climb. My feet skid and slide as I run the mud/grassy incline. Dig my feet in a little deeper, and I get to the top of the hill, again taking a few places as I remount the bike and the TWA crew shout me on.

Run the next half of a hill as some riders go past still in the saddle, (why is it called a saddle when its attached to a seat post?) then ride along to the hurdles. Were still bunched up as we turn and dismount for the double magenta barriers. A lot of riders remount and ride along to the new downhill section. Me on the other hand, I keep running until I reach the brow of the hill, back on the bike and freewheel to the bottom of the hill. Some tremendous sweeping switchbacks line you up for the second longer grassy climb. I usually have to dismount and run this hill, but do you know what, I’m going to give it a bash and try to ride this sucker! And I do! I struggle to the top by some zig-zag riding and seeking out grip, also lots of sheer stubbornness helps at this point. The growing crowd also helps with tones of encouragement to all riders tackling the hill.

Back in the saddle (seat) and ride through the mud soup, that takes you into the trees once again. This links you back up with the tarmac start shoot, I have to walk/run the last of the bog as by peddling I don’t seem to be getting anywhere fast. Get to the tarmac and back to riding a bike race in a bike race. It’s being to string out and riding the top wood section I can pick a decent line with some free space ahead. I am gaining on a small group just a few seconds out in front. Deep down I know I won’t be able to hold on to the group as this course isn’t my fastest to get around.

Eventually lap after lap I run out of gas, I hear two laps to go as I come round to the timing van. (great commentary by @mikefixerpayne) Which probably means one and a half for me as I’m sure David Duggan will catch me again. I manage to ride the big hill a few more times but slowing every time I complete it. The last two times I manage 3/4 of the way up. I don’t have any lying down in the mud today, always a good race when that happens but I do regret wearing gloves and arm warmers.

Man got too hot! Halfway around I have stop and strip my arm warmers down to my wrists to cool down. Then at the spectator’s bowl, I pull up to remove my gloves and warmers altogether. I hate being too hot! It distracts me, I think about it too much instead of concentrating on racing. Also, I get a bit nauseous if I am too hot. I lose a tone of time to the riders in front of me by pissing about, but at least I feel some much-needed fresh air.

David does catch me again, just as we entered the woods behind the pits. I now know my race will soon be over as David is riding along to get the checkered flag and the win. I have someone in my sights, a Johnston Wheeler is slowing, this spurs my legs on and the speed is up as we come through the last section of woods. At the end of the woods and entry into the pit area, he slips and goes down. I dig in and pass him on the inside. Kept the power going, ride around the bend and into the last corner. A quick glance over my shoulder and I see I have some space on riders at my back, let the bike glide over the line in 64th spot and to complete RGCX and my Cyclocross season.

Huge thanks to all the Unicorn helpers and event organisers, RGCX is always special.
Thanks again to Michael Martin again some incredible pictures and also to Graeme Cross for some classic black and white images.
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LoveCross

An evening in Peebles.

Satnav destination is for Peebles High Street for a bit of early season Cyclocross racing.   Love Cross is part of Tweed Love Bike Festival that runs from 14th- 30th of May.  Two weeks of all sorts of bike shenanigans going on, my kind of festival.

This Cyclocross race is a little bit different from the usual Scottish Cyclocross races, a couple of main differences.

First of all, it is at night!  My Race kicks off at 7:30pm, racing under the warm spring sun. (sounds romantic, this is Scotland so probably wet and dull)

Secondly, it will take place through the town centre and not through any kind of mud fest park! Looking forward to this type of Urban Cyclocross, seeing what kind of obstacles will be used on the course, like the use of water gun alley in last year’s photographs.

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Also to add a slightly different twist to this is that I will be racing in the pairs category.  The way I understand it is, myself and Kevin Pugh will be playing tag team racing.  One of us will be racing a lap whilst the other sits out, then quick high five, releasing the fresh pair of legs onto the course for their lap.  Having a lap out to recover seems quite appealing to me.

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To start the night off there was a family ride.  Around 1000 children and adults get to ride a little loop of Peebles High Street and round past Tweed Green then back around the High Street.  It was great seeing all the little kids showing off their bike skills, one little guy was popping wheelies on his bike while another youngster was zooming around on a unicycle.

Peebles sure is a bike town!

Rider briefing was held while the course was being changed from the family loop into an obstacle-laden cross circuit.  We were given instructions on how to record the lap, seems a bit daunting but actually was just another obstacle to remember.  We were issued with a wristband, with this we were to stop, scan the band on the gate.  Each and every lap.  If you rode through the gates not scanning, then that lap didn’t count.  More laps = prizes.  Easy!

Solo riders are taken to start line for their 18 minutes of racing.  Bikes were laid down and then riders were taken about 120 metres away to start the “Le Mans” style run to the bike. The crowd counted down from 10, once we got to GO!  The sprint in cleats began.  Bryan Donnelly of Glasgow Nightingales had brought his sprint legs tonight, he was out the blocks faster than Usain Bolt.  Seems that his good start was short lived, his bike was blocked in and had to wait for a clear path to get out onto the course.  Something to learn from  for next year Bryan.

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Image by Ian Linton

18 minutes of racing turned into 18 minutes in hell.  There is no let up on the course so, 100% full gas is the only option.  Well the exception was maybe Cameron Mason, he and his mountain bike took the course apart and lapped the field.  Taking the top spot on the night.

Pairs race, here we go!

Kevin and I got split up, unlucky for Kev he registered us so he is the “A” rider meaning he shall have the sprint to his singlespeed bike.  Which he parked next to a BMX!  Mental doing a race on a BMX, only this madness was topped off by the guy in a leather jacket, jeans and riding his FAT bike in the solo race.

The crowd counts down the start, Go Go Go!  They are off and running,  Anthony Robson using his long limbs to good advantage is first to his bike.  Kevin in third, BMX guy is second. Though he soon moves up to first as he is schooling us all in how to bunny hop the bales of hay.  Bloody marvellous!

Now for the nerves to build.  Kevin is out on the back end of the course we are still in third place as they head into the “dob” station.  Kev doesn’t become a “dobber”!  He remembers to scan his wristband, sprints up the street and jump’s the last bales of hay.  Now it’s my turn to hit the course.

BMX guy got caught by Anthony , his partner is just in front of me as we head out onto the course.  I overtake, moving up into second place.  Time to get a shuffle on and catch Man Mountain on his Mountain Bike. Thomas Mitchell.

The first obstacle is on a right bend, a nice wedge of car tyres for you to run through.  I did my best long jump effort while shouldering the bike.  Man Mountain just bunny hopped right over the lot!  Next was a downhill slalom, in and out the barrier tape.  I took this as fast as I thought possible, Man Mountain brushed this aside and made it look like he was on rails.

barrier slalom

Image by Anthony Robson

A quick right bend and it was onto first haybale leap.  I used the good old “Handbag” technique, Man Mountain used the Bunny hop technique.  Gaining momentum and distance with every hop.  I didn’t even see what he did for the three, yes THREE flights of stairs up to the Church.  I was too busy with my head down, attacking them, two steps at a time.

Snagging the barrier tape as I came around the corner to find Man Mountain finish fiddling with his dropped chain, only for him to blast off and bunny hop the sand bags and hit the high street.  Out on the street, you had a short sprint through some gazebos with some Tweetfest barrier tape to block your view.  Tight left turn taking you down an alleyway round to a zig zag barrier system and then over two hay bale barriers.  I shouldered the bike and ran this section, I was way quicker to do that than fumble around the barriers only to dismount and hop the bales of hay.  Man Mountain probably bunny hopped the two hurdles at once for all I know as he was out of sight.

The bottom of the hill you took a right and an all out sprint to the sharp right turn up through the hotel car park , round the bend shooting you out onto the high street yet again. A bale of hay to hop, stop at gate and swipe band (not becoming a dobber).  Then it was a sprint past water pistol alley to get a drenching and a drink from the kids.  Hop the last bale of hay and Kevin was on his way.

Man Mountain had gapped me massively giving Kevin some work to do to chase down Anthony. We were still holding second place with a decent size gap to third.

This is how it played out for the next 30 minutes.  Kevin chased, I got gapped every lap.  We managed to do 10 or 11 laps, poor Kev did 6 of those.  I got the lap bell as I scanned my wristband and handed over, giving him the last lap.  We couldn’t chase down the first place as they had a really good race but we did manage to hold our lead over third place. Making the podium with SECOND place. Woohoo!

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All the winners on the night.

Well done to all the racers on the night.  Also huge thanks to all of the event team and marshalls putting on a great fun event.  A good bit of team riding with Kevin and hopefully we will return in 2017 trying to improve on our position on the steps of Tontine Hotel.

Thanks to Anthony Robson and Ian Linton for the use of their images, click the names and see more of their amazing Photography skills.

straight outta lovecross

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