The appearance of daffodils by the roadside at the The Gordon Arms Trophy served to remind you that despite the wonderful blue sky, it is in fact only just the beginning of spring; the morning was tempered by a pretty chilly nor-easterly, taking the temperature down enough to justify at least arm-warmers for most of the field, with gloves, leg-warmers and even over-shoes the choice for many riders too.
The morning belonged to Graeme Obree (Fullerton Wheelers) who rocketed to a fantastic 2 minute winning margin over well-travelled Carlos Riise (Shetland Wheelers).
A Tough Start
A thorough warm-up was never more important in a race: from leaving the timekeeper at the Gordon Arms Hotel on the A708 near Mountbenger, the first quarter of the race route headed directly uphill on the B709 and the steady climb of The Wiss.
A good range of climbing styles were on display on the hill, with Carlos and Aiden McIroy (Auchencrow Thistle) looking to be amongst the quickest, their faster cadences helping to keep them warm too.
Also looking good at this early stage were Graeme – who always impresses with his ability to dig deep, David Caesar (The Bicycleworks.com), and Gordon Graham (Fullerton Wheelers). Claire Thomas (Edinburgh Road Club) was also making the climb look less arduous than it appeared to us watching from the layby.
The Technical Bit
Swinging left at the top of the climb at Crosslee, the course took the riders downhill on the B7009 through Newburgh and Gilmanscleugh into the Ettrick Valley and along the twisty and undulating valley floor, where the wind was making things pretty hard work.
The riders who’s work-rate didn’t drop on the downhill, and those who had done their homework regarding the twists and turns of the course, were able to make the most of the gradient’s assistance.
Once in the valley, Carlos and Graeme were able to switch into full TT mode to make gains on the riders peppered along the course in front of them, whilst Aiden rode strongly enough to keep Carlos – a minute at his back – behind him.
The Final Insult
When the riders arrived at Kirkhope, they turned left and headed up the difficult single-track climb back towards Yarrow. The steepness of this climb was a surprise to a few folk who hadn’t had time to recce the course, and for many it’s not a pleasant sight to look up and see other riders as tiny dots a mile away, still climbing towards the top.
Kevin Adams (Edinburgh Road Club) suffered the disappointment of a bent rear gear-hanger at this point whilst changing from his big to wee ring, and had to call it a day, hitching a lift back to the strip from Chief Comm Andy Laing.
Whilst Graeme made rapid progress from the bottom of the hill, halfway up Carlos drew inexorably towards Aidan, and crested the summit less than half a minute behind him. However, the younger man descended down towards Yarrow more quickly and stretched the gap back out to the best part of his minute’s start again.
The fast tailwind-assisted run-in along the A708 through Yarrow Feus didn’t see much change in the running order, with the riders like Dave Moran (Edinburgh Road Club) and Ian Pearson (Gala CC) flashing past the timekeeper at impressive speeds.
Graeme Obree felt it was about time he started to get some good results for the training he’s been doing:
“I could see Carlos in the distance on the hill, and I thought ‘Oh – he’s got to be at least 3 miles ahead of me there’, so I knew I had to work hard up the hill and all the way to the finish… he always goes well early season, and he got the better of me the other week, so I thought I cannae get two beatings in a row!
“Gordon [Graham] and I have been doing really good ’10’ times in training – I did around a 19:50 last week – so I knew I was coming into a bit of condition. I’m really pleased to get the season off the ground with this ride.”
Carlos Riise was pragmatic about his 2nd spot:
“I’m quite happy about the ride today. I came down to ride the Loudoun APR yesterday, but missed the start, so I suppose it was for the best – kept my legs fresher for today right enough. There was a few cows on the road, which we don’t get in Shetland! I hadn’t realised just how hilly it was today, and I’m not too keen on the hills – I like the flat roads much better!”
New to the Senior class, Aiden McIroy was happy with his ride to 3rd place today:
“I felt pretty good today to be honest. It’s the kinda course that suits me – I train on similar roads at home, and I’ve been doing a lot of hills over the winter.
“I knew I could get away from Carlos again coming down off the two hills in this race: in the Trossachs last year he caught me going up the Duke’s Pass, then I descended hard and got 30 secs back into him by the bottom, so today I did some maniac descents, and I really pushed it to the finish to keep away from him!
“My next race is a local one: “Up the Cleugh” – it’s only five minutes from where I stay, so I’d like to do well in that, and maybe this year I’ll go down south for some of the National events as well, but to be honest I see myself racing mostly in Scotland for another year, and I want to get onto the track too – it seems to be one way forward in this country!”
The Gordon Arms Trophy Result
1 0:50:50 Graeme Obree Fullarton Wheelers Vet
2 0:52:53 Carlos Riise Shetland Wheelers Vet
3 0:53:07 Aidan Mclroy Auchencrow Thistle Sen
4 0:55:48 Gordon Graham Fullarton Wheelers 1st Vet
5 0:56:40 Dave Moran Edinburgh RC Sen
6 0:57:00 John Sturgeon Classic Walls Vet
7 0:57:09 Graeme Lawrie Gala CC Vet
8 0:57:20 Ian Pearson Gala CC Vet
9 0:57:28 Andrew Rowat Musselburgh Roads CC Sen
10 0:57:57: John McDowall Edinburgh RC: Sen
11 0:58:04 David Caesar The Bicycle Works.com Sen
12 0:58:17 Timothy May Edinburgh RC Vet
13 0:58:29 Mike Scott Gala CC Sen
14 0:58:58 Chistopher Adamson Musselburgh Roads CC Vet
15 0:59:35 Derek Timmins Musselburgh Roads CC Sen
16 1:00:16 Barry Duncan I Team Vet
17 1:00:40 Graeme Bell Gala CC Sen
18 1:02:15 Colin McEvoy Edinburgh RC Vet
19 1:02:17 David Pritchard Kelso Wheelers Vet
20 1:02:23 Frank Morris G.S.Metro Vet
21 1:02:35 Bruce Wallace Hawick CC Sen
22 1:02:46 Claire Thomas Edinburgh RC 1st Fem
23 1:03:07 Graham Jones Edinburgh RC Vet
24 1:03:33 Jeremy Weston Gala CC Sen
25 1:03:42 Christine McLean Shetland Wheelers Fem
26 1:04:10 Jenny Wright Edinburgh RC Fem
27 1:04:14 Kevin Locke Berwick Wheelers Vet
28 1:09:27 Jennifer Laing Edinburgh RC Fem
29 1:11:05 Karen Breneman Edinburgh RC Fem
30 1:13:22 Andrew Wilson St. Christophers Vet
31: 1:16:17 William Watson Gala CC Vet
Gala CC won the Team Prize with Graeme Lawrie, Ian Pearson and Mike Scott totalling 2:52:58.