Despite loosing roadman sprinter, Graeme McGarrity within ten miles of the start and short distance specialist, Gary Robson thinking that the finish would never come, Dooleys RT successfully defended their Scottish team time trial title on a dry but windy Saturday afternoon in the rich farmland of Strathmore near Forfar.
Scottish ten mile champion and freshly crowned European Masters pursuit champion, Arthur Doyle did much of the work in ensuring the title stayed with Bob Taylor’s band; ably backed by man who knows more about team trialling than most, former British Champion in the discipline, Dave Gibson.
Roadmen turned testers for the day, Pedal Power took silver.
And it was that man Cusick again; still with the form that took him to the 100 title, leading Glasgow Couriers to the bronze.
Dave Chapman was marshalling at the ‘turn’ where the teams banked left to head back to the finish line along the long, mostly flat straights to Forfar, wind assisted after their battle into a chilly south easterly ripping in off the North Sea.
My trendy Copenhagen six day t-shirt was quickly covered by a North Face jacket — Scotland in Summer time, it’s wonderful!
Behind us, two huge combines were performing their own brand of synchronised effort as they stripped the big fields of their precious grain.
The course is good for the event, long straights, not too technical and at the quieter end of the scale as far as traffic count goes.
Some of the early squads hadn’t been doing their homework and for an amateur photographer like me, the big gaps between the wheels made it hard to get them all in the shot — where’s Danny McClure when you need him?
Dave Meek told me that pioneering Scottish pro, John Kennedy used to say; ‘there’s only one thing that’s worse than feeling bad on a bike, and that’s looking bad on a bike!’
There were quiet a few teams that would have had Kennedy shaking his head, apart from the gaps between the wheels, there were squads wearing four different versions of the same club jersey and some with bare skin on display at the small of the back — un-cool!
But perhaps the most graphic illustration of the need to practice for these events was the way the teams cornered; the best checked behind, ran wide to the white line in line astern, then clipped the apex, accelerating out of the bend with little momentum lost.
Some of the others spread out in ‘blanket finish’ style, took four different lines through the curve then roared abuse at each other as they tried to re-group as the road straightened out — a good laugh for Dave and I, but not doing any favours for them with the time keepers at the line.
The first squad Dave put the watch on was Edinburgh Road Club ‘A’ but TheBicycleWorks were behind them and 90 seconds up — their cornering was good, as you’d expect from a team lead by Scottish criterium champion, Andrew Davies.
Pedal Power’s road pedigree showed as they flew round the bend without missing a beat, a minute up on Andrew’s squad.
Jim Cusick led his men neatly into the left hander as they took the top spot, 10 seconds up on Pedal Power.
With the lesser teams there was plenty of time between the squad coming into view and taking up my Graham Watson position, but with the faster squads, there was less time to get across the road — Dooleys ‘A’ went from the horizon to being right beside us fastest of all; the watch confirmed it, eight seconds up on the Couriers.
At this stage it was a tight race, we made it only 25 seconds covering the first four teams.
The early starting teams were now on their second lap and on a couple of occasions two teams arrived at the bend simultaneously, this made for good viewing and listening — it was just a pity there were only the two of us there to enjoy the fun.
A ‘four-up’ came past on old mopeds, but ignoring Dave’s direction to take the left hander; there must have been a vintage rally on the go, because not long after, an Isetta bubble car gurgled past — or was it Gerry McDaid, incognito?
Lap two and the air was warmer, but still moving strongly from the sea, it was quieter now too, the combines had stripped the big field and moved on.
There were only three BicycleWorkers this time round — making it hard for themselves.
Pedal Power were still complete though and looking good, 1-49 up on Andrew’s team.
Velo Ecosse were down to three riders and well down on time; but Ben Abrahams would explain to me after the finish that Garry Brown had crashed not long after passing us on lap one.
The Couriers were still at full strength and appearing to be having a clubby run type ‘blether’ as they negotiated the bend, they were 1-25 up on TheBicycleWorks but 24 seconds down on Gary Hand’s Pedal Powerers.
Dooleys had only three men but were over a minute up on Gary’s Gang; Arthur wasn’t messing, no down shift for the bend — just levering a ‘biggy’ out of the turn.
As Dave headed off to see if he could remember where he’d left his fellow marshal – somewhere in the Strathmore scenery; I scuttled away to pass the last teams on the road and take a few pics.
Stevie Blom from the Couriers and Kevin Barclay from Pedal Power hadn’t been able to answer the demands made on legs tired from slogging into a head wind, to go up the gears and find 30 mph plus speeds with the tail wind. Both gave me a nod as they made their solitary ways back to the finish — been there boys, a long time ago, but I remember how it felt.
Arthur was rampant for Dooleys, carving long, long spells on the fast straights to Forfar as Gary and Davie tucked ever lower, behind him. Bob Taylor doesn’t like Arthur’s ’96 GT with its exposed welds and bottom bracket ‘fairing;’ it’s not as sleek as those Cervlos but I like that ‘industrial’ styling and it seemed to be working just fine on Saturday. (perhaps a spray job wouldn’t go amiss though, Arthur!)
Jim Cusick was performing a similar role for the Couriers, whilst Velo Ecosse just looked weary.
At the finish, Dave’s time keeping was proved spot on; Dooleys had taken it with 1-22-39, Pedal Power were second with 1-23-48 and The Couriers were in bronze position with 1-24-18 whilst TheBicycleWorks were back in fourth with 1-25-35.
The sun was shining by now; that always makes life easier for getting quotes.
Jim Cusick last spoke to me by mobile phone from a pub in Evanton, but here’s what he had to say today:
“It seemed as if that wind was rising, that second lap was brutal. We lost Stevie Blom on the last tail wind section, but he‘d given his best and couldn’t have done any more; his form has been a wee bit up and down this year.
“Alan Thomson was riding with a cracked wrist he crashed in the National road race at Hawick, so that’s not ideal either. We rode four or five practice sessions, but we’re happy enough to be in the medals today.”
Gary Hand told us the story for Pedal Power:
“The plan was not to start too fast and then wind it up on the second lap.
Everyone rode well, they gave 100% but it’s not our discipline, especially when you’re riding against guys like Arthur, who generate so much power.
“We lost Kevin on one of those long fast straights back to the finish, he did one last long hard turn, then swung off. We’re happy with the silver, today though.”
Dave Gibson scores highly for mentioning – in front of several people – that we were in the Modena team together back in the 80’s when we won the 100 kilometres TTT three times on the trot; thanks Dave! Dave was in the winning Modena team six times he thinks, but has also won it with Glenmarnock, and Dooleys, of course — not to mention a win in the British championship as part of the Scotland squad.
“It was supposed to be a steady start, but we were a bit erratic, ironically it settled down after we lost Graeme.
“We thought Graeme would be good with his road experience, but it didn’t work out — it may have been smoother, but it’s much harder when there are only three of you because you’re spending a lot less time on the wheel.
“We’d decided that Arthur would do long spells and he really was super strong today.”
And the big question; “was Graeme the fox ‘saving it’ for the Vets road race on Sunday?” VeloVeritas: : will have the answer, rest assured!