We visited Round 5 of the Scottish SX series, the Dunfermline Cyclo-Cross. Conventional wisdom has it that cyclo-cross was born of a desire to give continental roadmen good, competitive but not-too-serious winter workouts.
This theory is possible but Dave and I reckon it was born of Belgian spectators’ ever-present need to board a supporters’ bus on a Sunday morning, journey to a race and down multiple pils, eat frites and hamburgers, and return home smelling of fried onions.
Just like in the summer months.
Family afternoon teas?
Nae, nae, nae!
It’s a wee while since we’ve been to a Scottish ‘cross and the sport has changed beyond all recognition from the early 70’s when your ‘cross bike was your winter bike with the muddies removed; my old Kirkcaldy club mate, Rab Speirs won the ‘cross on Thornton Bing on his fixed wheel ‘hack bike’.
Not so now; thanks to the stewardship of Scottish Cyclocross, we see Pidcock replicas, one x electronic transmissions and even lovely Dugast tubulars at 60 quid a pop.
The fields are also much, much healthier than ‘back in the day.’
This looks like the right place, a suitably clagged ‘cross bike – Dave and I can no longer do a King Canute and believe that we can stop disc brakes by talking about how much we dislike them.
They’re here to stay – and maybe they’re not so bad…
We didn’t have to wait long for the start of the vets’ race, we made it around 45/50 starters.
Best pop an Andrew Allan team pic in there early, with them being the homeboys.
The parcours had a lot of grass, mud, a couple of stiff snaps, tricky drops and some twisty bits through the trees.
When we saw the Nightingale strip, just for a moment we thought were in Flanders – still a great jersey, untampered with over the years and just fine for that.
We’re not sure pink is the best colour for all that mud though – albeit Mathieu VDP finished in Koksijde with his white rainbow skinsuit looking just about as pristine at the finish as it did at the start.
The winner was never really in doubt from end of lap one as Chris Buchan rode away from Davie Lines, never to be seen again.
But Davie ploughed on through the gloop and would eventually take second spot.
Commentary on proceedings was provided by the inimitable ‘Jammie’ Johnstone, giving freely of his time, as he has done for many years, albeit we never once heard his trademark ‘Gladiators’ catchphrase that he used use at Meadowbank Track [r.i.p.] back in the day.
Winner Chris Buchan managed a smile as he squelched up the finish straight for the last time.
And third placed Malcolm Bain looked happy with his podium; he would join Davie Lines in heading straight for the start of the senior race – respect!
* * *
And ‘they’re off!’ again – with another good sized field.
It really pays on a day like this to have two bikes, the mud builds, the bike gets heavier and heavier and things don’t work nearly as sweet with all that gunge on them.
Back when we were at ‘cross Worlds in Leeds 1992 where Mike Kluge of Germany won, third placed Adrie Van Der Poel – Mathieu’s dad – had three beautiful machines when he changed.
After the bike was washed and dried all the tubes were sprayed with WD40 to stop the mud clinging – at least for a while.
Eventual winner, Dave Duggan was ‘on it’ from the off, one of a very few to ride the quagmire drag back up to the start area.
With most having to run.
And Dave and I are not sure about number 94, Tomasz Wysocki’s Freddie Mercury tribute gear – but we’re old boys…
Eventual second, Gary McDonald slipped time to Duggan on the first lap but would spend the whole race clawing the seconds back – but not quite enough.
Third place too was settled early, with Mark Scott spending the whole race alone, losing a little time each lap but doing more than enough to grab the last podium spot.
The copse of trees provided some nice photo opportunities.
We were surprised to see an MTB in the race, we thought you couldn’t ride those in a ‘cross?
Duggan hammered on, gearing noticeably higher than most and blasting rather than pedalling many of the sticky sections.
But McDonald stuck to job in hand, chipping away those seconds and getting Duggan in sight.
And although shedding a seconds every lap, Scott looked the part and his third spot was safe from way out.
Davie Lines was in fourth spot, where he’d finish after a double shift on the coal face – he’s a hardy pup.
Meanwhile, Craig Wood stopped to take his mitts off, they were looking a tad soggy, right enough.
Spokes junior, Chris Hordon put in a mighty effort up the finish straight, we think this was to do with avoiding having to do another lap if Duggan didn’t catch him?
Answers on a postcard please.
Duggan the winner then – there were some sections even he had to run.
From ‘never say die’ McDonald was at 12 seconds.
And the consistent Scott some three minutes plus behind Duggan.
With Davie Lines in fourth spot exactly five minutes down.
Richard McDonald was fifth just seven seconds behind Lines at the line (no pun intended).
By now the light was well on the fade and as Dave and I lamented on the way back to the car, if only there was a beer tent and a supporters’ bus to take us home – or back to the bar where our rider’s supporters club was based.
Nonetheless, a few hours at the Dunfermline Cyclo-Cross was a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon and great to see cyclo-cross so healthy north of the border.
We’ll need to get along to the National Champs…