EVENT REPORTS - FEB to JUNE 2011
Welcome to the Glasgow Wheelers Reports section. If you have an event to report on, you can download a GWCC report form HERE, fill this in for you road, time trial, social or other event - add photos if you have them and EMAIL the webmaster!!.
Event reports from JUNE TO OCT 2010.
Event reports from MAR TO MAY 2010.
National 25ml and 50ml TT Champs (by Graeme Cockburn)
Date: Sun 26th June 2011
I couldn't have asked for better weather conditions, it was sunny and warm with a very light breeze, so no excuses it was all down to me.
Just before my start I popped off for the mandatory pre race pee, as I unzipped my skin suit the zipper came away in my hand, don't panic, don't panic, but could I get the zip to reattach and close. Rather than faffing about I decided to ride to the start line with my skin suit flapping about acting like a sail, I knew I shouldn't ride like this but having travelled this distance there was no way I wasn't going to ride so was starting to think of weird and wonderful methods to maybe reduce the sail affect. I got to the line and tried to relax still playing with the zip in an attempt all would be sorted by my start time, with a minute or so to go it all popped into place and I was again fully aero, panic over.
I think this must have given me a dose of adrenalin as I did the first five miles like a bat out of hell hardly dropping below 30mph, the rest of the ride was non eventful catching a few riders in the process. With 5 miles to go I checked on my time, I thought I might be able to get into the 54s but as the miles went by it was not to be, the final big push to the line stopped the clock in a pleasing 55.31 a PB for that course and finished 18th overall, Andrew Underwood clocked 56.32 and Errol Bennie 1.07.53, winner on the day was Evan Oliphant in a course record time of 52.10
As always weather is important to any bike race but even more so when you are in a TT as it's the "race of truth" with nowhere to hide. Conditions started poorly with a heavy drizzle making the roads very slippy in places resulting in some crashes, as the day progressed the rain stopped and the roads dried quickly due to the wind. I've never ridden the first 25 miles of this circuit, the last 25 miles are the National 25 circuit ridden two weeks ago, I did drive the first 25 miles when returning from that event therefore knew it had some nasty drags which would sap the speed and the legs so my target was to break the 2 hour barrier.
This year I was seeded amongst the top riders meaning the time gaps around me would be 2 minutes between riders, this normally results in a very lonely ride as we are all of a similar speed therefore don't see anyone. I tried to ride the first few miles hard then try to hold that advantage to the finish but after 5 miles I turned onto the road to Milnathorp, I was creeping, my average speed was dropping below 25mph, when I got to the turn after 13.5 miles I was down at 24.5mph which was looking like a 2 hour plus ride. As soon as I turned my speed was high, I hadn't realised just how strong the wind was and it had been right into my face so the next 13.5 miles were run off at nearly 30mph taking my average speed up to 26.7 miles, it all looked good for a fast day until at 35 miles while accelerating out of a bend I felt a twinge in my hamstring, every time I hit a drag the twinge came back so I was forced to soft pedal to avoid cramp setting in, once its there its very hard to get rid off.
As I hit the 5 miles to go sign I checked my time, I had 15 mins to do the last 5 miles to achieve my 2 hour target, the next couple of miles were slightly downhill and back into the wind but I achieved a reasonable speed, at 3 miles to go I was caught by my 2 minute man who then proceeded to take 35 seconds out of me which confirmed just how slow I was having to ride. I stopped the clock in 1 hr 57 mins 30 seconds for 11th overall, achieving my main aim but missing out on the top 10 by 5 seconds and possibly a lot more, my 50TT PB is 1.55.46 and reckon I was in with a shout for this until the twinges of cramp. Lesson learned, make sure I ride longer distances before I compete in one of my target events, I’ve only done 10s and 2 x 25s since April.
The only other GWCC rider was Errol Bennie finishing in 2.18.49, winner on the day was Alan Thomson in a course record time of 1.51.26, that included him stopping and returning to collect his drinks bottle which bounced out the cage when he hit a pothole, what a ride and well deserved.
Next target is the National TTT if GWCC can get a team together.
Tweedbank Duathloan (by Elaine Lowden)
Date: Sat 13th June 2011
Waiting on the start line I questioned myself whether I had done enough training, I had certainly included plenty of bike specific training and I was confident that the runs were clocking up fast times. But 'bricks' (run, bike or bike, run) had I included enough of these?
During the first 5K I clung onto the female in front (who turned out to be in 3rd position). She had a fast pace but I was confident that I could stick with her into transition. She did have a faster transition then me although there were a bunch of cyclists heading out so she had'’t really gained much of an advantage! Before the first roundabout a few minutes into the bike section I was able to overtake her and get down on the tri bars and power down the hill. I didn't see her again until the end of the race! The conditions were very different on the bike extremely windy and at times it was a struggle to maintain my position on the tri bars due to a side wind heading out. The course was slightly undulating before reaching the final roundabout then a short hill climb before a dead turn, 10km to go! By this point I had overtaken two other female riders so this boosted my confidence and with the adrenaline rush I was determined to hold onto my lead. Powering down the hill and sweeping round to the left helped to gain some time back however hitting a strong head wind and driving rain were awful conditions for the second half of the bike section, I was struggling at times to maintain 22mph. After the final transition my legs were heavy but I was confident if I kept a reasonable pace I could finish ahead of the other female competitors. Heavy rain pushed me on to get to the finish as quickly as my legs would carry me. The second 5K took a slightly different route, past the start line, up and over the grass verge (which felt like an enormous hill) then onto the running track, 400m felt so much further. I overtook another competitor which resulted in moving up the overall positions. I had crossed the line as the overall female winner and was positioned 17th out of 41, victory! The results confirmed that I was the fastest female on the bike. The highlight was clocking a PB for my 5K run (19mins 37secs). I had great pleasure in shaking the hands of each female competitor on the track, feeling like a real pro! My specific training had certainly paid off!
Scottish 10ml TT Championship (by Graeme Cockburn)
Date: Sun 30th May 2011
This event is one of my targets every season, the season had been going well with some good results and quick times but I injured my back about a month ago which forced me to almost stop training and just doing the odd open TT each week but I wasn't going to let this put me off competing in the National.
With 122 miles to the event and a start time of 0855 I was swithering whether to drive up the night before or leave very early on the day (5am), what seemed the correct choice was made and I travelled up the night before hoping to get a peaceful evening, lots of sleep and rise fresh for the day ahead. How easily a plan fails to come together as I just couldn't get to sleep in my new surroundings so reckon I got about 4 hours sleep, I'd have got more if I stayed at home and got up at 4am.
I got signed on and found a lane within a mile of the start to build the bike and set up the turbo for my warm up, that was a joke, just as I started to warm up the wind picked up, the temperature dropped and the rain arrived, I had to look out gloves as my hands were frozen while on the turbo, conditions were not looking good. Fortunately the rain went off for the rest of the day but the wind continued to get stronger and stronger making it harder for the late starters.
I rode this course in 2009 as part of the National 25 where I set my PB so new it to be fast, I hoped for the same again but the wind and cold was going to make this tough, I wasn't wrong as it was a battle with the cross wind throughout the ride, only one section seemed fast due to it being protected by a forest and the wee draggy sections just sucked speed out of the legs. The half mile drag to the turn was hell, my speed dropped to 20mph, up and over the dual carriageway to a nasty corner which had gravel, cat eyes and white lines, all potential skid hazards. How fast do I ride this section? Too fast and I risk crashing, too slow and I lose time against my rivals. I took the safe option, I'd rather lose time than my skin, unfortunately one rider wasn't so lucky and crashed on the gravel breaking his femur. The return leg seemed easier and it was so as my splits showed me a minute faster than the out leg, I gave my all as I approached the line but the 200m drag up to the line just buckled the legs requiring another shift down the gears, stopping the clock in a disappointing 21.51. I was disappointed as it was one of my slowest rides of 2011 but I would only know what sort of ride it was when I viewed others times, things got worse as Rob Wilkins told me he did a 21.02, 10 days ago I was within 18 seconds today I was a massive 49 seconds down, slowly I realised Rob had ridden a blinder to get bronze whereas my nearest rivals were still near to me, Arthur Doyle won with a 20.41, Evan Oliphant was second with a 20.59 and Rob Wilkins third with 21.02, my target for the event was a top 20 slot which I achieved by finishing 19th, so not my best ride but still achieved my target.
Andrew Underwood also competed finishing a respectable 29th with a 22.27, he was one of the later starters so had the worst of the conditions. Must get him onto a disk and deep section front wheel as it will take seconds off his times, I offered him mine but he refused the loan, maybe worried he'd skid through one of my tubs!!
British Eagle RR (by Jamie Drever)
Date: Sat 30th April 2011
Andy Matheson and the Musselburgh RC once again hosted the 56 mile British Eagle Trophy. Many years ago I came 3rd in this race. It's fair to say the standard of racing in what were once called 'chippers' has increased immeasurably - I would only be able to repeat this result if a mass pile up wiped out half the field, something that is not unreasonable after witnessing a number of horrendous bike handlers doing their worst earlier this season. When you have the Murdoch clan, a strong Velo Eccosse team and Graeme McGarrity and his Dooleys boys on the start line you know you'll be in for a tough race.
Four laps of the 14 mile circuit started from the hall at East Saltoun. The course is rolling with only one section that could be described as a a climb. That's not to say it didn't cause a number of problems for some of the field, despite the neutralising head wind. The first lap was fairly non-descript with only a few impact punctures from some of the potholes punctuating the tarmac. A nasty crash took about about 5 riders, one of whom hit a bad crater on the back section of the circuit. A few riders were held up but not so seriously as to cause a bunch split. Towards the end of the first lap a flurry of attacks culminated in a break forming. Thankfully the Wheelers were represented. David Griffiths made it into the move of ten along with Matthew McDonald (Bicycleworks), Gordon and Peter Murdoch (both Cyclelane). Jason Roberts also latched onto the attack but as it was maturing into a break he just missed hanging on before it settled down into a steady, working group. I also just missed out when the chase group I was sand-bagging in couldn't make the final effort to bridge to the leaders. The racing at this stage was 40mph plus!!A near tragic/comic moment occurred at the end of Lap 2 when a Perth United rider veered to the right of the road ahead of the sweeping right hander and proceeded to sweep left onto the side road that the race finishes on. Cutting across a chasing bunch is never a wise decision and thankfully no harm was done. That would however have been the mass pile up crash I needed for a high placing....
The selection had now been made and the time gaps given around the course confirmed that the attackers were eluding the pursuing bunch. At the head of affairs, David was working well, taking one hill prime and performing well enough in the other to take the overall hill prize. Not bad for someone who was suffering from a migraine at the start of the race and unsure over whether to race or not. The gap grew to over 2 minutes and in the final sprint, Davie G took an excellent 2nd place, only missing out on the finish line when the giant, surging Matthew McDonald took his second win of the season. David's aero skinsuit might have helped his ride but it was definitely not designed to carry his mobile phone which had been precariously secured with safety pins behind his numbers to record the GPS data. Unable to last the pace the phone got dropped from the break. Somewhere. And was then finished off by a passing car. Understandably this left David feeling a bit sick though he insists the vomit stains on the skinsuit were caused by race exertion exacerbated by his migraine. Personally I would have thrown my wallet on the road had it been able to secure a top ten! Graeme Cockburn managed to peel off the bunch in the last mile to finish second out of the bunch and pick up some sought after license points. Jason, who looked really strong and had been constantly attacking to escape the clutches of the bunch finished in what was left of the peleton along with Tommy Murray and myself. Andy Whitehall unfortunately pulled out half way through - returning to racing after an absence he is still finding his legs - it won't take you long Andy.
Humbie Hilly TT (by Kristoff Aksnes)
Date: Sun 24th April 2011
The Humbie TT consists of 2x11.5 mile laps on mainly well surfaced, rolling roads held in the countryside east of Edinburgh. This was coupled with great weather on the day of the event albeit a little windy. Once we arrived, I realised that it was the British Eagle RR course so knew most of it - always helps in a tt!
So after the usual faff of getting ready including Jon's advanced tyre inflation method (JATIM - copyright J Clarke!) and mandatory 'disc wheel or no disc wheel debate', we were off warming up. This time the disc wheel debate developed past the usual conversational status to a full blown 10 minute road test including wind angle analysis which was critically evaluated over a cup of coffee.
The result? Jon used his disc and 404 front wheel and I had 80/101 set up.
These shenanigans ate into warming up time but was deemed essential and more important than warming up.
I was off number 10 and got 20mins of light spinning (not really fully warmed up) but took the first 10 mins to get really into it - which was easy with quite a strong headwind. Legs were a bit sore from a 'gentle' crow down on the friday but knew I just had to suffer it! I was enjoying the fast corners and descents and started to get the power down along the rolling sections. First lap was ok but was not until a couple of miles into last lap that I really pushed myself and final 15 minutes was a blur. Time was 58 mins 11sec which was enough to win by nearly 2 mins. Quite happy with it and hungry for more!
Jon had been riding well over the last 3 weeks with 2 previous hilly time trials; 3rd at Cronberry, respectable 11th at the Tour of Meldons and hoped for another top position. He had decided to power up the climbs which disrupted the usual constant effort which I think he paid for as his average speed was lower than the meldons a week earlier. Still a decent time, Jon was 9 seconds over the hour and was 3rd overall. I thought that I had heard the last of 'The Disc' but it formed the basis of the conversation on trip back home!
Conclusion: Discs are not always the answer - ask Jon!
Mackie Tankard 25ml TT (by Graeme Cockburn)
Date: Sun 17th April 2011
Last weekend saw the best bike riding weather so far in 2011 which many hoped would urge them onto fast times and possible PBs. The Mackie Tankard circuit has a very fast downhill start which means its easy to over do it in the first mile then spend many miles trying to recover from that over exuberant start, after that's its undulating with a few small drags just scrubbing speed away, what's worse are the many junctions which break the rhythm with one roundabout being approached from three different directions, however with excellent marshalling the route is easy to follow.
Looking at the start sheet it was obviously a high quality field turning up for the first 25TT of the year, only a few Championship contenders were missing on the day so my personal target was to ride close to my circuit PB and hope for a top 10 placing. Having foolishly left my computer in my jacket pocket back in my Dundee hotel room I was forced to ride blind with only the pain in my legs and the bursting lungs letting me know my level of effort, one section along side some Lochs felt like I was riding through treacle, I'm sure it was flat but I couldn't get any speed out of the bike, many others felt the same which made me feel better. As I approached the last few miles I kept catching 'ghost riders' who were just out enjoying the nice weather and not participating in the TT but they did spur me on to give that little bit more effort, although I've still not perfected the run in to that finish line after three attempts.
I managed to stop the clock in 56.09 which is about 20 seconds outside my circuit PB but 10th overall therefore managing one of my initial objectives. Errol Bennie was also competing and finished 66th in 1.09.34.
VC South - 10ml TT West Ferry (by Graeme Cockburn)
Date: Sat 16th April 2011
This weekends 10TT was ridden in not the best conditions, it was cool plus the head wind on the outward leg made it tough, inevitably this wind aided us on the home ward leg. I didn't have the best of warm ups as I had to rely on a lift but knew I am faster on this circuit than on the Stirling flats so hoped for a low 21, which looking at the start sheet would place me highly. I spoke to Craig Dick just after he finished, he gave me some good information about how the course was, areas which were tough and areas which were easy, this helped a lot. Off I went but too fast, I had to back off my effort or blow, for some reason my speedo wasn't working, I played about with it while moving but still couldn't get it to work, time to ride blind again. I caught my minute man after a few miles but no sign of anyone else, reached the turn and now for the blast home, with about 3 miles to go I caught my two minute man so that was me, only fresh air between me and the line. On one section I managed to get into top gear and felt like I was flying, that's always a nice feeling, everyone that has ridden the Westferry will know it has a sting in it's tail, the last half mile is uphill which just rips the legs and takes many mph off, I crossed the line not knowing what time I had done but my watch was within 22 minutes of my start time so hoped I had indeed ridden a low 21. As I was talking to some other competitors at the start line I looked over to see Arthur Doyle (Scottish 10 and 25 Champion) take the start, he had managed to obtain a late entry which normally means everyone else is riding for 2nd place but it also gives riders a great comparison as to how they have done against the best in Scotland.
Back at race HQ the results were being phoned in and posted up very quickly, I finished in 21.16, the only rider so far with a 21 but there were many fast riders behind me which can take you from the top to the bottom very quickly, on this occasion it was not to be with Arthur Doyle the only rider going sub 21 with a flying 20.33 meaning I had finished second. Other GWCC riders were Craig Dick with a great 22.06 for this time of year, Peter Smith 24.56, Gabriella Nordin 25.55 and Isobel Fletcher 27.36.
Cronberry Classic Hilly TT (by Jon Clarke)
Date: Sat 9th April 2011
With the sun shining and the temperature well into double figures, I headed through to the picturesque village of Sorn with the feeling that winter training was finally over. To get my season off to a good start I had eased off during my 'Crow-down' with Jason two days earlier to save my legs, but annoyingly had woken up with a sore throat/earache. I had heard that Nicky Cronin had also been struck with man-flu but made the wiser decision to stay at home.
Once in Sorn, the fantastic weather and the relaxed atmosphere of the event soon took my mind off any ailments and I was keen to get going on my tt bike. I was set off number 3 and caught the first two riders early on which meant I had no-one else to 'chase', making it difficult to gauge how hard to ride. The circuit was 17 miles of largely traffic-free undulating hills with a couple of power climbs for good measure. With the exception of a few short pothole-ridden stretches, the road surface was fine and certainly not as bad as the race organisers had warned. The fact that I enjoyed my ride and was able to appreciate the scenery meant I probably could have pushed it a bit more. Nonetheless I was happy with 3rd place overall, a minute behind Jamie Kennedy (Glasgow Couriers) who is riding strongly at the moment.
Overall I thought this was a fantastic circuit and the event was well organised by Loudon RC with friendly atmosphere and excellent cakes. I personally think that hilly time trials are ideal early season events to get back into race mode but clearly most people don't agree and would rather be risking life and limb in the APRs. Having witnessed the dangerous riding of the Moscow APR two weeks previously it didn't surprise me to hear that there were a few serious injuries from the Barmill APR on the same day. Would certainly recommend this event to anyone and hopefully it will remain a fixture on the Scottish cycling calendar.
Results (top 6 prizes)
1 J KENNEDY GLASGOW COURIERS 43.47
2 G BARNES WALKERS CC 43.54
3 J CLARKE GLASGOW WHS 44.54
4 N WALKER WALKERS 45.38
5 P GIBSON AYR ROADS 45.50
6 R WILSON GLASGOW COURIERS 46.23
A Long Weekend!
Date: Sat 2nd April 2011
Jack Murray Junior Trophy (by Graeme Cockburn)
Last weekend saw one of my busiest for cycle racing in a long time. On Saturday Jamie Drever and myself headed off to Dunfermline for the Jack Murray Junior RR, we aren't Juniors but it was also open to 3rd and 4th cats. The race comprised of 10 laps on a 5 mile circuit which really didn't have any flat on it, over the star finish line it was a left turn on to a very fast descent which then turned onto an undulating road with some short sharp rises but with the wind behind it normally saw the bunch strung out in single file, once round the very sharp left hander it was right into the teeth of a very strong wind all the way up the climb to the finish. Many attacks tried to get away but once into the head wind they didn't last for long as the bunch always pulled them back, on the last lap two riders got away but with the head wind section still to come it was assumed they would be pulled in before the line, not in this instance as one rider managed to hold the pack off for victory by 7 seconds. As for the bunch they were 10 abreast going up the climb into the wind waiting for the final charge to the line. Which wheel do you follow? Which side of the road do you take? Just as I reckoned the right side of the bunch was starting to move better than anywhere else I heard a shout of “Nose” which meant all those on the right (Jamie included) would have to ease off and squeeze together for the oncoming car so I moved to the left, the road opened up with 300m to go and the line was in sight. I finished 6th overall (2nd Vet), sadly Jamie rolled home in 36th at the back of the bunch, having had to brake going uphill to avoid two junior with locked handlebars - how easy the result of a race can be swayed!
Date: Sun 3rd April 2011
Royal Albert 10ml TT - Cambusbarron (by Graeme Cockburn)
On Sunday I headed out to Stirling with Gabriella for the Royal Albert 10 mile TT. As this was Gabriella's first TT I tried to give her some tips on what to expect and how to pace her effort, I hope some of it made sense and she was able to benefit from it. With an early start conditions were cool but little wind, or so I thought, it never seems windy while warming up on the turbo but once out on the course I was greeted by a strong head wind to the turn so battled to maintain 25mph, once round the turn it was up a few gears and 30 mph all the way home. I stopped the clock in 21.40, 19 seconds faster than two weeks ago but in poorer conditions plus the Jack Murray RR efforts still in my legs, it transpired this time was fast enough for 3rd overall only 6 seconds behind 2nd but a fair distance behind Steve Nutley's winning time of 21.18, Gabriella posted 27.36 and Elaine Lowden, fresh from a successful Duathlon, posted 25.45.
Date: Sun 3rd April 2011
Super6 - Rosneath (by Graeme Cockburn)
No sooner had I finished my TT it was time to pack and head off to the Super 6 'A' race at Rosneath, no I wasn't daft enough to be riding it after a RR and TT, I was the driver for the Chief Commissaire so would get a birds eye view of the race unfolding, or as it turned out, blowing apart. This was a brutal 70 miles course which only the strongest would survive, sadly the previous days efforts took its toll on Jamie who was an early casualty to the pace, a few miles later there was a crash which ended five more riders hopes, once down into Coulport the road surface saw off many others with punctures, there was no way of getting back on as the peleton were doing 30mph into the wind. All the Wheelers fell victim to punctures apart from Jason who thought his legs had punctured after a long attack off the front but still made it to the finish. Anybody that thinks racing is hard should watch one of these 'A' races\; I couldn't believe the speed and power of these riders. Chapeau. What I also enjoyed was the insight into how a RR works from the convoy point of view, the radio communications between the NEG motorbike riders, the Commissaires and the service vehicles, it was thoroughly enjoyable, I'd recommend this to anyone.
Some where around tea time I got home with my wife and kids wondering who I was.
Moscow APR (by Graeme Cockburn)
Date: Sat 26th March 2011
As we are all cyclists I doubt many of us will be interested in football but if you ever watch football you might hear a commentator say 'what a save', 'thats the save of the day', well, don't be surprised if you ever see Nicky Cronin in goal in the future, after today's save of the day, if not the year, if not his career, he could play football no problem.
I got the best view as I was on Nicky's wheel at the time, but not for long. You'll all know the route as I think you use it for midweek training, turning off the A77 onto the B road from the Malletsheugh heading towards Stewarton. When you go up the main climb and arrive by the Lochs it is pretty quick but there are some potholes on the road, Nicky hit one of these potholes which ejected him at 45 degrees towards the grass bank, dry stane dyke and fence, it was like watching a cowboy ride a bucking bronco and one of these motorbike riders on the wall of death all rolled into one. I was horrified to see this happen in front of me and really didn't know where to turn next as the direction Nicky was to be spat back into the road was as unknown as the six numbers for the National Lottery. We'll all rerun this event in our heads for years to come but somehow Nicky returned to the road in a reasonable straight line and still upright, this really shouldn't have happened, however just as he started to put the power down again all that could be heard was the hiss of air from both his tubs. All I can say is two tubs is a fair price for that excursion off road.
Great save Nicky!
Correiri Classic - 10ml TT Cambusbarron(by Graeme Cockburn)
Date: Sun 26th 2011
The first Open 10 of the year always attracts a huge field, this year was no exception with a field of 100 dusting off their TT machines for another season of racing against the clock. This event also coincided with my first competitive ride since joining the Wheelers so had something to prove to my new club mates. I've had a quiet winter, nothing startling in performance so hoped to start my season with a modest target of riding under 22 minutes which would also give me some confidence for the rest of the season.
The day was warm enough for the legs (milk bottles) to be exposed for the first time this year with a very light head wind on the way out to Kippen roundabout which would assist for the return when the legs started to really hurt. I was off at #5 so warmed up on my turbo about 20m from the starter so I knew exactly when to jump off the turbo and get to the line nice and warm. Everything was going to plan but for some reason I hadn't noticed any other riders setting off so rolled away from the starter to just make sure the bike was in working order only to hear my number being shouted. I looked round to see Isobel waving franticly for me to return to the line, as I arrived I could hear 5,4,3…..got held by the pusher off….2,1,GO, that's what you call perfect timing but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
Off I set in a flap, stop watch not working, speedo not working, I only had my HR displaying numbers that I hadn't seen for months. Could I maintain this effort? When would the legs and lungs burst? Time would tell.
I managed to catch my minute man just before the turn then the other two riders shortly after the turn, with 4 miles still to go the carrots were gone, only a clear road remained between me and the finish line. I managed to stop the clock in 21.59 achieving my initial target which resulted in 6th place overall from 100 starters. A pleasing start to the season, here's hoping my times all go lower as the season.
I'll not bore you with a full race report but just say the scratch group rode 33 miles at an average of 25mph, Jon Clarke got 5th and I got 8th amidst some of the worst riding I have ever seen, another couple of Wheelers got to ride but a few also failed to make it from reserve to the start sheet.
Super 6 Rd 1 Gifford
Date: Sat 5th March 2011
An under-strength team took to the start of Saturday's season opener. Always a fast race on a rolling circuit, the Gifford circuit is tough but without the extreme climbs that later rounds possess. New to the peleton this year are the acid green Endura strips. Ex-Wheelers Robbie Hassan and Dougie Young were proudly sporting these at the sharp end of the bunch. With Jason Roberts early morning call off due to a persistent cold the team lost its most experienced and successful entrant. Also missing due to current studies were Kristoff Asknes and Dave Smith. Graeme Neagle, Tommy Murray and David Griffiths did start and are all riders showing good early season form. Completing the team of five were Jamie Drever and Nicky Cronin. The first two of eight laps were uneventful enough. As the bunch passed through Gifford at 30mph for the start of the 3rd lap the bunch struggled to pass some parked cars, resulting in a sudden squeeze. Despite braking to minimise impact Jamie had no where to go but into the riders in front and hit the tarmac in a race for the first time in 3 years. Race over for the big man. Thankfully the rest of the A race passed with no more incident. Graeme Neagle was persistenly active at the front, joining and starting attacks that ultimately caused him to blow just after half distance. Tommy and Nicky were riding well and ended the race in the middle of what was left of the bunch. David Griffiths was riding well but 2 litres of caffeinated sports drinks followed by two caffeine Gels caused a "heart flutter" in the last kilometer that required him to stop at the side of the road. Decaf High5 in future David!
Report on B race to follow
2011 Pre-Season Preview
Date: 28th February 2011
After the most successful campaign for almost 20 years we cannot wait to begin racing! Sadly the Club lost two of its most promising racers, Robbie Hassan and Dougie Young over the winter. Their ambitions quite rightly lie beyond domestic Scottish racing and with their move to the Endura Development Squad they have the opportunity and support to compete at the highest UK level. We wish you both all the best this year. Grant Stevenson also lit up the peleton last year with his powerful accelerations - sadly the job market was more sedate and Grant decided a move to Australia was his best chance of work. It was. In his first week Down Under we are happy to report Grant found a job. And sun, sand and surf - struth!
Thankfully however we can welcome a number of new members. Still undergoing contract talks is Rob Friel who raced in 2010 for the Raleigh Team. A strong mountain biker and hard man on the road, Rob is sure to feature strongly at the front of the action. Graeme Cockburn has also joined. His strength lies against the watch, the past few seasons have seen him clock some deeply impressive times, notably joining the 20 minute club for a 10mile TT. Swede Gabriella Nordin joined last month. Despite a short cycling history she has been outstanding in recent training runs, is brimming with enthusiasm and has the talent to be one of the top ladies in the country. Our international contingent is joined by New Zealander Tim Drysdale who not only rides like Hincapie on the flat but also has the same shades! Another overseas rider (well Birmingham...) Kallen Kerr has moved to Glasgow this year and starts his first racing season.
Among those to watch this year? Any punters out there should put their money on Kristoff Aksnes. At GWCC HQ the feel is this will be his year. The signs were great in 2010. A low 21min 10mile TT, a hill climb winner and some individual highlights at the Dundee stage race prologue and the Sam Robinson show the talent he possesses. A year older, wiser and stronger make him a key performer - no pressure then Kristoff! Rab Wardell will ride for Kinesis in 2011 after a year with the Wheelers. Dave Smith has the experience and class to win races again this year and would be welcome in any team. Graeme Neagle is always a dark horse unless acting like a donkey, Tommy Murray hopes to pick up where he left off last year and Keith Smith is planning to turn his focus to time trialling. Jason Roberts may be the strongest Wheeler at the start of the season - we've heard about those secret turbo sessions and 4 hour ski sessions in the Aberfoyle winter. Also progressing is David Griffiths (pictured)who in his debut season last year finished 4th in the Scottish Hill Climb Champs. At a recent off-season curry, Nicky Cronin looked to be in good shape, though less so after the 5th Kingfisher. Providing his long hair doesn't weigh him down this could be a good season for the Glasgow man. Jon Clarke was a revelation last year and may just escape off-season burnout to carry some form into 2011. Jamie Drever is happy just to get his wife's permission to race and will hope to bag some points this year - there have been more on his driving license in the last two seasons. Andy Underwood is looking for a period of consistent racing like he experienced in the latter half of last year, ending on a high with strong hill climb results. Sam Matthews will also be riding in his last year as a junior and providing the distractions at Dundee University are not too alluring should do well.
Finally for those attracted by longer odds, Craig Dick is worth watching. Famed for missing sessions or races due to paternal obligations some have twigged this is just a cover for clandestine hurt-sessions on the turbo. Craig could star in the contre le montre. David Lang heads up the old boys and will join the motley crew of contenders for the V60 category of races. Providing he can hang a wheel and avoid taking wrong directions the form is still there. Another seasoned campaigner, Eric Easson will dust off his Cervelo for another testing year along with his protege Elaine Lowden who is making huge strides as a time triallist. Pete Smith and Isobel Fletcher also return for more sorties against the watch. As you can tell while there are stars, there is also a cast of thousands so apologies to any extras not listed. Here's to a great year!
Falkirk Bike Club Reliability Ride (by Jamie Drever)
Date: 27th February 2011
With only one week to go before the first pedal is pushed in anger at the season opener at Gifford, Sunday's 65 mile reliability trial run by the Falkirk Bike Club was an ideal chance to test both body and race machines. Around 80 riders assembled in Larbert and were split in four ability-based groups with suitable gaps between each group's departure time with the scratch group of 18 the last to leave. Five Wheelers were involved - Club Captain David Lang, myself, promising U23 David Griffiths and two new members, Tim Drysdale and Gabriella Nordin. Conditions were excellent with a slight northerly wind proving difficult on the more exposed sections.
The first 20 miles were fairly relaxed tempo riding with plenty of recovery time between pulls at the front. The most challenging part of the ride was undoubtedly the condition of the minor roads. Numerous pot holes had claimed a succession of victims who lined the side of the tarmac, replacing inner tubes while subsequent groups passed with eyes glued to the road for craters and trenches. Hopefully the bad winter won't cause too many racing incidents this year.
The Braes of Greenock was a more traditional challenge, the ascent proving too much for some at this early time of year. I managed to stay in the middle of the scratch group while David Griffiths surged ahead with Gary Hand. A rapid 40mph descent followed with riders lined out as the route joined the Aberfoyle road. Once reformed the Gruppo Compatto again started riding through and off while a number of passengers simply hung on to the rear carriage. Meanwhile on the road south of Aberfoyle, Lang had escaped his start group and along with a couple of others was making good progress in a bid for glory. Being an unmarshalled event a missed turn onto the Buchlyvie backroad meant a longer route via Ballat Toll and a missed opportunity for glory. It was on the backroad that my group including David G caught and passed Gabriella who appears to have natural talent. Once on the Stirling road the pace picked up to 30mph and above. My speedo topped 36mph at one stage. With a cross wind from the north an echelon formed up to the white line. I fought to take the last position, my legs aching at this point. David had earlier lost a bottle due to the rough surfaces and was starting to fade after his strong earlier efforts. By the time the route journeyed through Cambusbarron he had missed the cut with 6 riders left in the scratch which had by this stage also picked up Nightingale's David Anderson. Gary Hand was evidently really strong - I did all I could to hold on for the remaining 10 miles, only managing a couple of turns at the front.
All in all a good workout. Tim managed a good ride, his earlier group making it to the finish without being caught. We all hope to see him progress quickly - first race for the Kiwi Kwickman is the Super6 B race this Sunday.
Event reports from JUNE TO OCT 2010.
Event reports from MAR TO MAY 2010.