Thursday, January 27, 2022
HomeRaceRace PreviewsScottish Cycling Super Six Series - Event 1, Gifford: Preview

Scottish Cycling Super Six Series – Event 1, Gifford: Preview

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Scottish Cycling Super Six series; Snowdrops by the roadside, fluffy white clouds scurrying across a blue sky, bright sunshine requiring the Ray Bans to get dusted-off, and a breeze that was fresh but not chilling — has Spring arrived in Gifford on this February Sunday?

Nah! It’ll be snowing, tomorrow!

Still, it was a lovely day to recce the course for the first of James McCallum’s ‘Super Six’ series; the timing was perfect, organiser Chris Harney pulled-on the brakes of his Orbea outside Gifford town hall, just as I stopped the Toyota beside the village green.

Ah, snowdrops.
Ah, snowdrops.

Gifford is the perfect spot for a bike race, historic and quaint, with the Goblin Ha’ Hotel providing a great race HQ and there’s plenty of space for the catering marquee on the green — not to mention quiet, scenic roads all around.

Race Organiser Chris Harney.
Race Organiser Chris Harney.
The majestic Gifford Town Hall.
The majestic Gifford Town Hall.

Chris tried me out by attempting to take the back wheel out of the Orbea with the chain in the big sprocket, I spotted it though, plonked it into the eleven, popped the wheels out and had the Orbea in the back of the Toyota in a jiff as Chris squeezed his tall frame into the front seat and we were off.

Chris is an Aussie, like Velo Ecosse’s Paul Rowney, and also like Paul, it was the love of a Scottish girl that brought him to Bonnie Scotland — maybe I should go to Australia to get a woman, I keep ending-up in the divorce court here! Anyway…

First drag on a testing little circuit.
First drag on a testing little circuit.

The start is at the top of the drag on the B6369 out of the village at Gifford Vale – take a left at the beautiful old church – the race will be neutralised on the first ascent, but not the next seven, by which time it will feel steeper than it looks, no doubt.

Initially the quiet road through Slateford and Brounshill rolls straight and gently past trees, pasture land and ploughed fields, with wonderful views across the East Lothian countryside; it’s open, and if the race was in Northern France or Flanders it would all be over about here: a bordure (echelon) would form and just ride off into the cross wind, never to be seen again.

From the car we admire Lennoxlove stately home ahead of us in the distance, and then there’s a quick drop past Colston Mains farm to Cockles, then we go straight on when the road bends right towards Haddington. We’re on a long, flat, fast, tree-lined straight – probably into the wind.

Turning left for Bolton.
Turning left for Bolton.

Past Colston House and turning left on the B6368 through the village of Bolton, the longest drag of the day heads for the skyline through rich farmland, as Chris explained; “None of these drags seem that hard, but on the seventh and eighth laps, particularly if it’s windy, there will be a lot of riders hurting.”

Looking back at one of those schneby climbs, this one just after the village of Bolton.
Looking back at one of those schneby climbs, this one just after the village of Bolton.