On a day when a raw wind scythed across the Borders hills, that slim man who must feel the cold more than most, David Griffiths (Pro Vision Scotland) defended his Scottish Hill Climb Championship on the savage, technical climb out of Stow Village in the rolling Scottish Borders.
Griffiths tells us he’s heavier than last year but still looks pretty damn skinny to us.
Pro Vision’s ‘Flying Doctor’ was timed at 5:41 which gave him a margin of just three seconds over Hawick CC’s Liam Beaty’s 5:44 with Alistair Merry (Dundee Thistle) third in 5:59.
Best lady on a day which reminded us that winter isn’t far away – but gifted a cold tail wind, was Anna Fairweather (Spokes Racing Team) with 7:28.
First man on the hill was eventual best youth Oscar Onley (Speedflex Race Team) who’s panting dog impression was top notch – we did like his rather nice Storck though.
Next up we had eventual best junior Ross Thomson (Dunfermline CC) who looked a tad over-geared to us but 6:04 was a non too shabby time for this hard climb with it’s varying grades which make it tough to find a rhythm.
We had Dooleys’ Lynsey Curran down as the ladies’ winner in our pre-race conference with big lensed snappers John Young and Stuart Anthony – but it was apparent that Anna Fairweather was making a better fist of the climb; the timekeeper confirmed our visuals with the Fife girl 10 seconds to the good at the line.
My Emily Palmer (Glasgow Nightingale) picture has another snapper in there, Albert McLellan who helpfully reminded me that he caught me in the 12 hour champs in 1980.
I remember him winning and me getting silver but not his catching me.
Perhaps I was having a bad patch on the finish circuit?
‘What’s a 12 hour ?’ I hear you ask.
Ask your dad.
Albert was also Scottish hill climb champ ‘back in the day’ and rode the Commonwealth Games for Scotland in Jamaica in 1966.
Callum Johnston (Edinburgh RC) had his number 13 on upside down to ward off the bad luck – it’s allowed under UCI rules – and was going well but not as well as number 14, Alistair Merry who looked to be going best so far.
It was no surprise when it was announced he had taken bronze.
Right behind Merry was Deeside Thistle’s Dominic Cordiner with a tiny single ring on his Cannondale.
Unfortunately we didn’t manage time checks today; taking snaps and jotting down notes was tough enough in that finger-numbing Borders blow.
And if some of the images have the odd ‘spot’ on them – there was a bit of icy rain blowing through at one stage too.
We didn’t have to wait long for the man who would be eventual silver medallist, Liam Beaty who was stamping hard on those pedals and had a proper racer’s face on.
Jeremy Weston who, with best veteran Nathan Beard and Neil Shepherd would be in the winning team, was one of few riders on fixed wheel.
Former Scottish hill climb King and course record holder on Stow, Sandy Gilchrist rode fixed on just about every Scottish climb, this one included.
Whilst a climb like Stow with it’s varying grades in theory is ideal for gears; choosing fixed wheel means the bike is lighter, there’s no chance of unshipping a chain, there’s no nervous energy wasted on when to change gear – and there’s the ‘carry over’ effect of the fixed wheel.
Sandy’s favourite anti-gravity was an anonymous pale blue track bike which at one time had been involved in a shunt, having that distinctive ‘hump’ in the top tube just behind the head lug which was always a giveaway on a steel frame that the bike had come to a sudden stop at some stage.
If it was nowadays, a carbon frame would just break.
Sandy used to refer to his championship winning bike as, ‘The Camel.’
Andrew Hale (GJS Cruise Racing) had the cadence but not the speed.
It was nice to see a ‘tester’ on the hill with Gavin Shirley (Dooleys) well looking the part.
And we liked Christopher Thomson’s (Kelso Wheelers) hands either side of the stem style – reminded us of Robert Millar in the Glory Days.
Gala’s team counter and best veteran Nathan Beard was hurting big on the climb – reminding us how horrible hill climbs really are.
We had David Griffiths’ minute man, Joseph Agnew (Edinburgh RC) down as going well but the reigning champion finished strongly on his single-ringed road machine to defend his title and end a road season which started way back in February.
The lack of a front changer and big ring all help but unless you’re on a SRAM ‘thick/thin’ chain and ring the chances of unshipping a chain are exacerbated.
And we’re not sure if ‘calf fairings’ make much of a difference at hill climb speeds but I guess they won’t do any harm either – we’d need to do weight/vertical gain v. watt saving calculation on the VeloVeritas super computer to give a definitive answer – maybe tomorrow?
We’re not big beard fans either but the man took his high-revving style to gold – so who are we to criticise?
We’ll be bringing you an interview with the winner in the next day or two but meantime congratulations to Mr. Griffiths, the medallists, all those who braved a raw day – and thanks to organiser David Johnson on a nice race manual and a well organised championship.
Result - Scottish Hill Climb Championship 2017
2 Liam Beaty Hawick CC S 5:44.43
3 Alistair Merry Dundee Thistle S 5:59.28
4 Joseph Agnew Edinburgh RC S 6:01.06
5 Ross Thomson Dunfermline CC JM 6:04.25
6 Calum Johnston Edinburgh RC S 6:11.14
7 Oscar Onley Speedflex RT YM 6:21.36
8 Shaun Inglis Hawick CC S 6:25.93
9 Nathan Beard Gala CC V 6:32.17
10 Andrew Hale GJS Cruise Racing S 6:35.30
11 Ross Cunningham Glasgow Road Club S 6:37.70
12 Dominic Cordner Deeside Thistle S 6:43.21
13 Joshua Higgins RC Cimbernauld & Kilsyth S 6:44.07
14 Gavin Shirley www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk S 6:45.62
15 Oscar Marletta VC Glasgow South V 6:58.82
16 Alastair Fowler Glasgow Nightingale CC S 7:03.47
17 Christopher Thomson Kelso Wheelers V 7:04.68
18 Neil Shepherd Gala CC S 7:10.64
19 David Burgher Kelso Wheelers V 7:17.39
20 Anna Fairweather Spokes RT F 7:28.54
21 Lynsey Curran www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk F 7:38.37
22 Emily Palmer Glasgow Nightingale CC F 7:40.17
23 Jeremy Weston Gala CC V 7:48.11
24 Robbie Hughes Johnstone Wheelers CC S 7:53.38
25 Raymond Robinson Army Cycling Union V 8:42.32
26 Kieran Power Musselburgh RCC S 9:22.59
27 Michelle Highfield Berwick Wheelers CC FV 9:39.61
28 Gareth Murray Gala CC S 9:58.93