RaceGordon Watt

Race Report: Battle of Balloch Castle CX

RaceGordon Watt
Race Report: Battle of Balloch Castle CX

Words: Eric Easton
Photo: Eric Easton

The Joy of CX on the Bonny Bonny Banks...

Glasgow United have introduced the Scottish CX community to a new luxurious big-ring circuit below the scenic Balloch Castle on the bonny banks of Loch Lomond.  Racing was fast and aggressive with tight battles in all categories in both the Skirmish (B-race) and All Out War (A-race). 

The circuit used the geo-block (plasticky) paths, single track through the rough pasture and some gravel paths as well as the usual grassy parks.  With less mud-plugging, there was opportunities for tactical riding, drafting and attacking and the racing was all the more exciting for this.

In the Skirmish (B-race)  Colin Sergeant took first from David Lindsay and Dave Smeaton.  I didn't see much of the racing at the front as I was battling it out for 22nd place with Paul Davies of Dunfermline CC.  However,  I had a ring side seat for the head to head battle between Lindsay Branston (RCCK) and Lorna Sican (Walkers) for first lady - there was relentless attackingby both riders through the final five laps before Lindsay broke Lorna on the last lap and got away by a few seconds.

All Out War began with Field-Marshall J. Johnstone lining all riders up as if for inspection.  When the balloon went up, there was some rapid attacking by Davy Lines, Gary MacDonald, Gary McRae, Stevie Jackson, and Crawford Carrick-Anderson.  However, when the smoke cleared and the riders came back into view after the first lap, Davy Lines was MIA having suffered an unfortunate mechanical (his brake hose snagged his stem and stopped him turning the handlebar).  After nearly a minute,  Davy emerged and began an ill-fated hour long heroic struggleto get back to the leaders. He eventually finished fourth having carved through most of the field to nearly get within striking distance of our podium riders.

After two laps,  the field was well spread out.  In the vanguard were Gary MacDonald (Hope Factory Racing), Gary McRae (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique) and home rider Stevie Jackson (Glasgow Utd) with Crawford Carrick-Anderson (Peebles CC) chasing hard a few seconds back.  By lap three Crawford was burnt off and the leading trio began lap after lap of unceasing attacking and counter attacking.  In the final five laps, Gary McCrae attacked relentlessly on the pits' straight gaining a few yards on MacDonald and Jackson as they entered the gravel path section but by the time they came back into the main arena they were all together again.  McCrae's penultimate lap was the course record (4.48) as he tried to finally break MacDonald and Jackson.  However, MacDonald must have been biding his time and saved it all up for a single attack on the past lap.  As the leaders approached the hurdles,  MacDonald was four yards in front of McRae and Jackson was out of contention.  MacDonald kicked again on remounting and won without having to sprint setting a new course record of 4.47.   Davy Lines lost a little time in these two fierce last laps and finished fourth with Jimmy Melville a decent fifth.

There was battles within battles all the way through the bunch though and little quarter was given.  John McCaffrey, Franco Porco and Wayne Barr formed an early group and knocked lumps out of each other for lap after lap until McCaffrey pulled away from Porco and a tiring Barr in the final lap.

In the ladies race,  Jane Barr (Velocity) steadily built a lead throughout the race over her two main rivals - Ruth Fraser-Moodie and Brenda Callendar(Stirling) - and won comfortably.  With two laps to go Callendar overhauled Fraser Moodie for a deserved second.

Great organisation from Stevie Couper and his team from the Glasgow Utd.  A special mention must go to George Buchanan who built the hurdles and sponsored all the prizes.