We used to have Brian Blessed as the voice on the satnav. Today however, on our journey north to watch the Scottish Road Race Championships 2021 it was Daffy but even with our little American Black Duck guiding us it’s a fair old hike from Peebles to Bridge of Alford.
From the Cairn o’ Mount to the circuit is lovely countryside; great for the bike with very little traffic.
We just missed the finish of the ladies’ race atop Suie Hill but got straight to work; a chat with 2021 Scottish Road Race Champion, Ms. Becky Storrie, Brother UK-Cycle Team OnForm.
But not before the vintage tractors had trundled past – happens all the time at the Italian Nationals.
Becky’s race covered less than two laps of the circuit – of which more later – but included two ascents of the stiff Suie Hill climb; we started by asking her about the brevity of the race.
“Yes it’s a pity it’s such a short race but on the other hand I think that idea is to attract more girls to ride, not putting them off with a long distance.”
And the winning move?
“I put a dig in first time up the hill with the idea of getting clear with the two Beths, Maciver and Morrow, that’s how it played out but I was surprised that we were reeled in, so I realised that I’d have to put in an even bigger hit the second time up – and that’s what I did.”
And next up?
“I have a National B race tomorrow and I’m hoping that the ladies’ RAS in Ireland goes ahead – and I’m looking forward to the British National Champs, which are incorporated in the Lincoln GP, I like that hill on the finishing circuit…”
The two Beths did indeed finish second and third with Beth Maciver (Torvelo Racing) second and Beth Morrow (Storey Racing) third.
Best Junior was fourth across the line, Morven Yeoman (Tofauti Everyone Active).
For the record, three non-starters, 24 started and 23 finished on this unforgiving parcours.
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Robbie Brown of the race organisers, Spokes RT has put a lot into the race calendar this season, indeed this event was the 14th race the team has organised in Scotland this year!
There has been only been one other road race or criterium not organised by Spokes RT this season, the Ben Forsyth Criterium which was run by the Edinburgh Road Club.
Rolling through lush farmland out of Bridge of Alford through Montgarrie to Keig and then a fast descent to quiet Auchleven, left on a narrow, gnarly, recently-resurfaced road through Leslie past the Garioch Aero club grass landing strip, to hang a left and ‘bang!’ into Suie Hill.
It’s a belter, steep early with a hairpin then not quite so savage but at two kilometres long, a tough climb.
The descent is fast and not technical with a good opportunity for those who have less fear than the rest to make up lost time before starting the next lap.
But does every race really have to have a ‘killer’ climb like Suie which destroys the field early in the day?
Perhaps – we’re not race organisers, after all…
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It’s lovely, bright sunshine on the hairpin and three are away and well clear; Messrs. Davie Lines (Wheelbase Cab Tech Castelli), Aidan Quinn (Dooleys Cycles) and Jason Roberts (Vanelli – Project Go).
Two are chasing in ‘no man’s land’; Alastair McNicol (Dooleys) and Ray Wilson (Ryan’s Bike Surgery) with a face-pulling peloton not so far behind.
Already there’s major damage been done.
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We’re just past 500 metres to go to the summit finish on an idyllic afternoon with panoramic views over the North East countryside.
Davie & Co. haven’t managed to build on their lead, in fact Monsieur Lines is last man standing and about to be consumed by a hungry if rather depleted peloton.
Pants, gasps and the ‘clack’ of upshifts as the gradient eases are the sound track for the bunch.
Dooleys men McNicol and Quinn have gone from the front of the race to the rear; ‘c’ést finis’ Alastair tells me as he heads for the last few hundred metres and the sweet, cool air of the descent.
I can but agree with him, ‘Oui!’
Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow follows them with last man on the road, Iain Fisher (Ayr Roads CC) staring fixedly at that yellow flag.
VeloVeritas editor, Martin had disappeared up the hill perhaps looking for roadkill we can roast on the cylinder head or maybe he’s trapping in the woods?
[I was in fact chatting to Evan Oliphant about his current role with Scottish Cycling, memories of Road Championships past – and unpaid race prizes and the reasons why! ed.]
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To use a George Galloway word [apologies. ed.], the ‘indefatigable’ Monsieur Lines is still to the fore, as are Ewan McDougall (Perth United), Conor McKinnon (Dolan Ellesse Race Team) and Davie’s Wheelbase team mate, David Duggan.
The ‘boonch’ as Sean would say was right behind with things complicated by lapped riders in the mix.
We moved back down the hill to avoid the dreaded, ‘all their fotiez look the same’ curse.
It’s quiet, hardly a car passes, just the lambs bleating, bees buzzing and rooks having a chat.
The Scottish Cycling Twitter feed tells us that man Lines, Duggan and Gavin Dempster (Torvelo Racing) are clear with Andy Bruce (Vanelli-Project Go) in pursuit.
We’ll see the race through here then head back to the top for the final.
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Dempster and Duggan have 15 seconds on Lines who informs us that “the other two aren’t being fair to an old guy”…
We hope Davie gets a medal but whatever happens he’s our ‘man of the match’ for sure.
Andy Bruce ‘en seule’ was @ 1:55 then Thomas Gelati (Kelpie Racing) @ 2:55 with Finn Crockett leading the small group which was now the peloton – a strange one with him having two Wheelbase team mates up the road.
Albeit Evan Oliphant reckoned that he was riding hard because he’d seen that race favourite Cameron Richardson was struggling.
The SC Twitter feed later confirmed that Richardson had, in fact been dropped.
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Blazing sun and a cool breeze, ideal conditions for heat stroke.
‘Double D’ as they call Mr. Duggan in these parts, wins in the classic manner; alone, hands aloft.
Second over the line was late charging Alex Gibb (Spokes Racing Team) taking silver and third was Gavin Dempster (Torvelo Racing).
Our ‘man of the match’ Davie Lines tied up on the last lap to finish 13th, but as Gianni Savio of Androni would say he, ‘honoured the race.’
We bolted before the prize presentation, those ‘Lang Scots miles’ south to the Borders to get done, but we got a picture of the winner’s jersey, which we rather like.
We hope to bring you an interview with the winner soon – and isn’t it nice just to see racing on Scottish roads again?
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