East Lothian in springtime should be an idyllic setting for a bike race; but today she showed her spiteful side for the traditional east coast season-opening Musselburgh 3-Up, with a freezing, grey day which granted no favours to the weak – John Anderson’s Bicycleworks ‘tester trio’ of Sharkey, Dale and Caesar proving strongest on the day.

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The victorious BicycleWorks team keep it tight. Photo©Martin Williamson

But one must remember that Scotland’s notorious cannibal, Sawney Bean was born in East Lothian – perhaps on a day like this…

The Musselburgh 3-Up used to be run on the roads around Ballencrieff Farm, taking in the Forth coast road but the organisers have now opted for three laps of an eight mile circuit on the quieter roads around East Saltoun and Bolton; further inland and much safer.

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Bolton in East Lothian reminds us of a typical quant English village. Photo©Martin Williamson

But the trade off is that the lanes receive even less TLC from the council than the main roads and are in a dreadful state with pot holes and huge puddles all round the circuit, making a tough day even harder.

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The BicycleWorks ‘B’ team negotiate the potholes and puddles. Photo©Martin Williamson
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The roads on the circuit, particularly around the back of the course, were in a terrible state. Photo©Martin Williamson

Those carbon rims don’t half ‘clack!’ when they hit a pothole…

The entry was a respectable 27 teams, ranging from those treating it as a day’s training on their road bike, to those on low profiles with rear discs and front composites.

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The City of Edinburgh trackies took to the road to get some conditioning done, but apparently didn’t manage to stay upright the whole way. Photo©Martin Williamson

Our first sight of the race was on the drag up through the village of East Saltoun which comes not long after the start.

A blackbird was singing his heart out to add a wee bit of joy to a horrible day – meanwhile the Fife Cycling 2000 trio were looking the part and would eventually finish the day in fifth spot.

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Ed gets distracted by the wildlife and flora. Photo©Martin Williamson

In search of photo-ops we headed off round the course, through Bolton and stopped at the left-hander where the route heads back toward the finish.

Even the snowdrops looked wabbit among the giant puddles, with the Glasgow United team riding the course the ‘wrong way’ for a warm up.

But bare legs, guys? – muscles don’t like the cold.

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The Fullerton Wheelers lads Rylands, Cassidy and Stead looked well matched. Photo©Martin Williamson
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One ERC team passes another. Photo©Martin Williamson

One of the promoting club’s teams was taking a relaxed approach to the race; ‘take it easy for Jack’ was the team order as they dodged the puddles.

Back when we used to ride TTT’s it was more like, ‘lift it!’ or ‘get through!

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Not an homage to Francis. Photo©Ed Hood

At Begbie – no, not the one from ‘Train Spotting‘ – the first blooms had struggled through, adding just a wee bit of colour to the afternoon.

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The snowdrops have struggled this year so far. Photo©Ed Hood

The Bicycleworks team looked on top of the job but some teams were finding it difficult to keep tight formation on the tricky bends on this stretch of the circuit.

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The winning team of Sharkey, Caeser and Dale were visibly faster than the others. Photo©Martin Williamson
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This Kelso Wheelers team break up a little on a climb. Photo©Martin Williamson
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The Stirling Bike Club team fielded the only female in the race: Katie Wylie, riding with M. Leadbetter and G. Walsh. Photo©Martin Williamson
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The Glasgow Green CC pals J. Doherty, J. Smith and A. Dobinson regroup after the climb to East Saltoun. Photo©Martin Williamson
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One of three Lomond Roads teams in the field. Photo©Martin Williamson
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The eventual winners catch Fife Cycling who ended up fifth team. Photo©Martin Williamson

As the afternoon progressed and all the teams were on the road, it became difficult to keep track of who was doing what, with teams on different laps.

We completed a lap then stopped up at the Fletcher Memorial Fountain back in East Saltoun; the Fletchers being the local land owners with roots going way back into Scottish history.

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The Fletcher Memorial in East Saltoun. Photo©Ed Hood

We like the fountain – and the bonnie kirk – and of course, the hens, who seemed unimpressed by the expensive hardware trundling past them.

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The local chooks seach for grubs and pay us no heed. Photo©Martin Williamson

But impressive bicycles or not, it’s a long drag up through the village and teams were falling apart with weaker members tailed off – some of them on bikes which most pros would be happy to ride.

It’s always been the case that the less experienced teams don’t understand that the idea is to nurse your weakest guy through the hard parts – not ‘get stuck right in to him!

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Glasgow United lose a man. Photo©Martin Williamson
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Third place finishers, Velo Club Edinburgh with N. Shannon, D. Hines and E. Blom. Photo©Martin Williamson

Andy Matheson and his Musselburgh men had it just about right though, all three close together and gauging their effort nicely.

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Musselburgh’s Andy Matheson leads teammates A. Scott and D. Kirkham. Photo©Martin Williamson

Most journalist being wimps – and us being no exception – we couldn’t stay in the one spot too long for fear of frostbite, so set off round the course again to get a ‘heat in the car‘.

Our next photo-op was at the old East Lothian County Council sign on the bend approaching Bolton.

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The old signs in East Lothian have appeal. Photo©Ed Hood

Martin was in the gutter on the other side of the road on the bend when one of the Edinburgh Road Club teams whistled down the brae; ‘oot the road, oot the road, f**k sake!’ hollered their point-man as he lead his teammates round on the wrong side of the road.

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Standing at the edge of the other side of the road, and we get shouted at for spoiling the racing line. Photo©Martin Williamson

Back ‘when I were lad’ if the commissaire had spotted that, our ERC man would have been DQ-ed for crossing the white line – and the sweary words.

But we’ve all done it, ‘heat of the moment’ and all that…

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Kelso Wheelers entered three teams. Photo©Martin Williamson
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One of the two Fullarton Wheelers teams. Photo©Martin Williamson
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As ever, Edinburgh Road Club supported the event in large numbers, entering seven teams. Photo©Martin Williamson
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Like several teams, these ERC riders sport several versions of the club design. Photo©Martin Williamson
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The young City of Edinburgh riders are no doubt more comfortable on the warm boards of the Sir Chris Hoy track. Photo©Martin Williamson

Meanwhile, the ERC ‘A’ team were looking good, lead by former Scottish Road Race Champion, Ken Russell.

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May, Whitehall and Russell of the ERC head for second place.
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At Begbie for the second time we liked the beautiful old bridge – there was more time to look at it as the early starting teams had finished and there were fewer teams to look out for. Photo©Martin Williamson
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Nice to see Alister Watson out and about, supporting the City of Edinburgh lads. Photo©Martin Williamson

On visual, it looked as if old stagers Sharkey and Caeser aided and abetted by young former tri-athlete Dale were coping best with the rigours of a difficult day and tricky circuit.

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The BicycleWorks ‘A’ team head for first place. Photo©Ed Hood

And at the finish line we did what we shouldn’t and asked the time keepers for the scores – thank you for your patience guys.

Sure enough, The BicycleWorks boys had ‘done good’ with a winning 1:00:18 – but Ken Russell and Co. for ERC had run them close to 14 seconds, with Velo Club Edinburgh third at more than a minute back.

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The timekeepers didn’t really mind us bugging them. Photo©Martin Williamson

Normally there would have been post-race interviews but we figured that the riders would rather get warm and dry rather than chat to us – it’s nothing to do with the fact that we were frozen and wanted to get home. Interviews next time guys, promise.

 

Result - Musselburgh RC 3-Up TTT 2013

Full Result

1 THE BICYCLEWORKS SEN D. SHARKEY D. CAESER C. DALE 1.00.18
2 EDINBURGH RC SEN J. MAY K. RUSSELL L. WHITEHALL 1.00.32
3 VELO CLUB EDINBURGH SEN N.SHANNON D. HINES E. BLOM 1.01.26
4 THE BICYCLEWORKS SEN A. COX D. EWING L. GORDON 1.01.39
5 FIFE CYCLING 2000 SEN B. AIRD P. GALLACHER P. LAMBIE 1.02.56
6 C.O.E.R.C. SEN P.ANDERSON P.TRODDEN C.WATSON 1.03.09
7 EDINBURGH RC SEN R. CROOK G. SCOTT K. LINDSAY 1.04.26
8 KELSO WHEELERS VET M. BURGHER D. BURGHER I. MCKENZIE 1.05.04
9 EDINBURGH RC SEN A. KINSLEY A. PELLET K. GREATOREX 1.05.05
10 STIRLING BIKE CLUB SEN G.HAY M.NEWELL D. VISSER 1.05.14
11 LOMOND ROADS CC VET G. DICK P. GARELE J. WALKER 1.05.14
12 GLASGOW UNITED CC SEN R. MACPHERSON J. MCCORY G. BUCHANAN 1.05.22
13 MUSSELBURGH RCC SEN D.KIRKHAM A. MATHESON A.SCOTT 1.05.34
14 EDINBURGH RC VET I. MCKINLAY W. CROMBIE D. GALLY 1.06.46
15 EDINBURGH RC SEN D. ALLAN J. FOGARTY D. MORAN 1.06.54
16 LOMOND ROADS VET G. DALY W. JACKSON A. MORTIMER 1.07.12
17 EDINBURGH RC SEN N. TROWELL L. PELI A. DEANE 1.07.19
18 GLASGOW GREEN CC SEN J. DOHERTY J. SMITH A. DOBINSON 1.07.48
19 KELSO WHEELERS SEN R. URE D. RICHARDSON S. GAUNT 1.08.19
20 STIRLING BIKE CLUB VET K. WYLIE M. LEADBETTER G.WALSH 1.09.57
21 EDINBURGH RC VET C. RUSSELL A. BROWN M. FINLAY 1.11.14
22 KELSO WHEELERS SEN R. CONNELL C.STEVENSON J. SMITH 1.14.16
23 STIRLING BIKE CLUB SEN A. JOHNSTONE F. PATERSON N. BROOKS 1.15.23
24 MUSSELBURGH RCC SEN S.ROWCLIFFE J. MATTHEWS S.STEWART 1.17.15
25 FULLARTON WHEELERS SEN A. MCCALL G. WALKER H. MURRAY 1.18.36
26 FULLARTON WHEELERS VET J. RYLAND S. CASSIDY G. STEAD 1.03.18 [2 riders] 27 LOMOND ROADS CC SEN G. BRATT S. WHITELAW N. TRYON 1.05.41 [2 riders]