by John McComisky
FALKIRK, Scotland – Round two of the Ridley Scottish Cyclocross Series moved to the autumnal and picturesque setting of Callendar Park this weekend.
Event organizers Franco Porco and a David Lines put on an incredibly challenging and exciting course, which crammed just about every conceivable obstacle in the way of the record breaking 388 rider field. The course held up well to heavy overnight rain and after a few pre race tweaks, Callendar Park filled with an enthusiastic and vocal crowd from all over Scotland.
In the senior event, world cup mountain biker Grant Ferguson (Superior-Brentjens) was the man that everyone wanted to finish second to. Ferguson grabbed the race by the scruff of the neck from the get go and proceeded to slam the opposition into the greasy, slippery parcour with a solid and intelligent ride. The fluidity of Ferguson was truly something to behold and an example of how far Scottish Cyclocross has grown in stature over the last few years.
Behind all this display of cross genius came a hunting pack with Lain Paton (Ben Wyvies Cycles) and a fast starting Simon Kirkness (Tri-Centre) dishing out the pain to the rest of the 90 strong field.
Paton faltered and this allowed Kirkness to steadily pull away from his rivals in a mature and controlled effort to move into second place by mid race. But with one lap to go Paton recovered his zeal to take second spot on the podium from a delighted Kirkness.
Solid riding from single speed devotee Colin May (Velo Club Edinburgh) secured fourth place, and returning from the sport of running Neil Walker (Walkers Cycles) opened his season points tally finishing fifth.
The veteran 40 class also had a very strong field despite the no show of John McCafferty (Leslie Bikes/BB) who is still recovering from illness. His teammate Gary McCrae made up for all of this, and was able to race to the win in front of team owner Andy Hain. Despite having raced to second in the Hairy Coo mountain bike race the day before, McCrae and his legs did all the talking.
Always lurking, and taking a race to the Leslie Bikes’ riders this year, Glasgow United filled the rest of the podium with James Melville and Stevie Jackson in second and third respectively. Porco notably placed fourth despite having to set up the course at 7 a.m.
The combined veteran 50+, women and junior race was again the domain of Harry Johnston (Team Thomson’s Cycles), Jamie Mason (West Lothian Clarion) and Connor Nally (Hardie Bikes).
The young wrecking crew safely managed to keep at bay a truly inspiring ride by veteran rider Brendan Roe (Leslie Bikes/BB) and his daughter, former Scottish Cyclocross National Champion Eileen Roe (Ronde).
With respect to the women’s class, a record breaking thirty racers took to the line, which is an all time participation record for a cyclocross race in Scotland. Despite finishing second, VC Moulin race ace Maddy Robinson did her series effort no harm at all by seeing off a very impressive ride from first time ‘crosser Kerry McPhee (Rock and Road), who had initially led proceedings until an untimely encounter with a course hurdle.
In the under eight category, a fantastic turnout took to the course in the morning, with the victory spoils going to a fiery ride from Gavin Gronkowski who got a wriggle on right from the start. First in the girl’s race was Daisy Taylor, who also managed third overall. The best thing about the first kids races is they just give it their all on all manner and shape of bikes, a heartening sight to see for the onlooker.
In the under 12 class, Jamie Johnston simply owned it, and put on a very mature display for the full race. This lad already has a skill set developing and was very impressive in lapped traffic as well as on the challenge of the slippery knoll at the far end of the Callendar Park course. Niamh Docherty again posted a top ride amongst the boys with a fine win for herself placing ninth overall.
Wrapping up the full race schedule were the youth events and a great top step from Joe Nally (Hardie Bikes), as well as a spirited ride from Emma Borthwick (Tri-Centre) who is more than capable of mixing it with the strongest youth males in Scotland.
There is also a lot of credit due to Garry Nichol and his team at Falkirk Community Trust who liaised with a great team of ground staff to help put on the Scottish Cyclocross Series with an eye on bringing a national trophy race to Scotland one day. Now would that not be a tantalizing thought?