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HomeRaceRace PreviewsOrganising the 46th Davie Bell Memorial Road Race

Organising the 46th Davie Bell Memorial Road Race


The best cyclists in Scotland will descend on South Ayrshire this Sunday, the 5th of June, as Ayr Roads Cycling Club/Harry Fairbairn BMW play host to round four of the Scottish Power Renewables SuP6R Six series at the 2011 David Bell Memorial Road Race.

The event has attracted a full field for the first time in over two decades, with the riders lining up to complete the gruelling 120km marathon over the hilly roads around Straiton.

Among those competing for the coveted victor’s trophy will be Commonwealth Games runner up George Atkins, Multiple British Champion and series leader James McCallum of Rapha Condor Sharp, and young mountainbike star Grant Ferguson of Boardman Elite.

Teams from as far afield as Moray, Keswick and Newcastle will also be competing in what is set to be an extremely unique event.

Chris Johnston, a member of the race’s organising committee, sent us his diary of the week before the race. As we can see, it’s not just a case of rocking up on the morning and opening the HQ…

– Submitted by Chris Johnston –

Sunday 29th May — one week to go to the Davie Bell Memorial

After a week finally the opportunity to get out on my bike.

Panniers laden, this is a chance to ride the route, flyer-up the cafés, and hang up some race warning signs on the narrow Loch Doon approach road.

I meet an elderly resident walking his dog on the south end of the Loch and his enthusiasm for the race is infectious!

Within minutes he’s regaling me of tales of commuting 70 miles each day on his 80 inch fixed. Kenny Armstrong appears too, for his route recce.

I try to follow him over the forest drive but despite him spinning along chatting easily I can’t hold his wheel -:  the Nic climb might have gone but it’s still a tough circuit.

Super surface at the top of Tairlaw. Having won the support of a key councillor we’ve been able to convince South Ayrshire to bring forward resurfacing Tairlaw on the work’s programme. The smooth asphalt runs out a couple km from the end and its a frightful mess.

There is still a week to go, but we are running dangerously close to race day!

Davie Bell Memorial Road Race
If the Eroica and PR can have unmade roads, why can’t the Davie Bell?

Monday 30th May

Bank holiday, thank goodness!

Time to make a call to the sponsor ACS Prestwick to stock up their supply of flyers, give them a copy of the handbook and startlist. They have a beautiful Ridley crossbike in the window, heavily discounted, it looks just the thing…

The afternoon is spent filling out paperwork ahead of our marshals’ debriefing in the evening. Twenty five club members crammed into John Mason’s garage as Blair Wyllie goes through everyones’ jobs and marshal station.

But will the road be ready in time?

No fear – Paul Torrance’s tyres are covered in hot tar. John’s garage is a treat, full of bikes and fridge handily stocked with cold beer…

Nervous moments as we test the club radios — a bit of a fiddle but squeal is turned right up and it’s all fixed!

Tuesday 31st May

Back to work and its going mental, deadlines to meet but I manage to steal a longer lunch.

Disappointment as Ali Robinson has to drop out — he’s been offered a late spot in a race in Austria so who can blame him?

This is countered by the great news that Callum Wilkinson is now officially on the start sheet. We all have fond memories of Callum’s attack up the Nic in 2009 — it might have failed but it was nail-biting to watch!

David Bell Memorial Road Race
Callum Wilkinson is riding.

A special package arrives at midday — the victor’s trophy!:  The ‘Sprocketman’ Kenny has gone to town with this one, the attention to detail is stunning. I’ll say no more about it, other than I’m bloody jealous its not going to be hanging in my front room.

I get home in the evening in time to answer the phone to the police – gulp…

But, it’s great news : — we will have Police aid-marshalling at least two of the right hand junctions, and they are hopeful to have the other two covered as well.

Given the drama at Dundee over the weekend, it’s wonderful to have a fully supportive local force!

David Bell Memorial Road Race
The fantastic trophy.

Wednesday 1st June

First hint that the weather is turning — we may yet have dry conditions on Sunday!

Minor panic:  as we realise the invoice for the venue has not been paid, but the treasurer is quick to react and all is well.

I go up to meet Janette Hazlett at the Willie Rafferty Memorial ’10’ where she is timekeeping. She is kindly lending us some race kit for the event — it’s amazing how much can be crammed in a small Clio.

I hang around long enough to get the times. Ben Peacock of Johnstone Wheelers surprises many by putting time into both ‘Gentleman’ Jim Cussick and Alan Thompson.

Still not fancy a ride on Sunday Thommo?  “Nup, I’m focussed on the Scottish 25!” Fair enough, and good luck!

I’ve ridden with Alan since we were teenagers, so fingers crossed he delivers the goods in the TT!

Our : flat is now bursting at the seams — radios, flags, signs, sponsors promo items, racebox etc… I’m not making myself very popular with Marie!

Chief Comm John McMillan calls to check out how we are getting on and offers some valuable advice.

With a full field for once we are going to have to ensure all the riders can hear the briefing OK — enter the ‘transistorized megaphone’!

Thursday 2nd June

Super coverage of the race in the local paper, the Ayrshire Post — a full colour page in the main news section all about the race and featuring our interview with James McCallum.

There is no doubt he makes for some great quotes — and so professional too. He knew exactly what we were looking for and made sure to promote not only the race but Ayrshire and the club too. Cheers James!

David Bell Memorial Road Race
James McCallum is one of the race’s big names.

Over at Scottish Cycling theres been something of an exodus recently but we’ve got David Winters and Laura Irwin stepping in and doing a great job to make sure we are all okay.

Their website now updated with Colin Renton’s press article, all the SuP6R Six goodies ready in the van, vehicle insurance certificate signed off and event permit approved.

Chairman Blair Wyllie emails — the Tairlaw resurfacing is finished!

What a massive relief, and just goes to prove that Scotland can deliver for cycling events. More than 30% of our race route is freshly laid in the last six months, and the police have confirmed that all four right hand turns will be manned.

In the evening Kenny smashes the club’s ’10’ record with a 21:42 — he’s still recovering from a cold but I reckon he’s fit for Sunday!

Friday 3rd June

So now we are entering the last 48 hrs to get it all sorted. I’ve taken a long weekend to ensure there is enough time to sign the route, prepare the hall, etc.

But as I’m quickly discovering, I don’t think there is ever enough time when organising a race.

Still, the stage is set.

We have an epic course, a fantastic field, a full team of event helpers and maybe even a promising weather forecast.

Bring on the 46th Davie Bell Memorial Road Race!

Have a look through the Race Manual, and read about the history of the race on the Race Website.

Martin Williamson
Martin is our Editor, Web site Designer and Manager, and concentrates on photography. He's been involved in cycling for over 42 years and has raced for many of them, having a varied career which includes time trials, road and track racing, and triathlons. Martin has been the Scottish 25 Mile TT and 100 Mile TT Champion, the British Points Race League Champion on the track, and was a prolific winner of time trials in his day, particularly hilly ones like the Tour de Trossachs and the Meldons MTT.

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