The first mud of the season and what mud it was. Paul Davies and his Dunfermline CC helpers contrived a race course that made the best of the campus venue which majored heavily in glaur. With nearly half the course requiring the dubstep, this race required strength and skills just to finish and many riders took a fair amount of Fife home with them on heavily caked bikes and clothing. Fairly brisk business in the pits emphasised the toll that the course was taking on the bikes with many of the top riders swapping for cleaner and lighter bikes or running in with punctures or broken mechs. Despite or even because of the conditions, most riders gloried in the sheer absurdity of racing through such a heavy course and were full of smiles and compliments for the organisers.
Words: Eric Easton
Photo: Eoghan Maguire
By the time the Senior Men were racing, the course was heavily cut up with many areas of mud whipped to stiff peaks. A frantic start on heavy grass lead in to the first off-camber corner and most were off and running before they slowed. Early on, series leader and full-time medical student, Harry Johnstone collided with Rab Wardell and snagged his skin suit on Rab's QR and losing at least thirty seconds on Gary MacDonald in recovery. With Davy Lines riding in England, Gary took advantage of the mishap and pressed on in fine style. Heavy rain had been forecast for earlier but only really hammered down during this race and the course got increasingly heavy and unrideable for many who had made poor tyre/pressure choices or who hadn't the skills or legs. Gary MacDonald found riding the top start-section impossible as the race went on and insisted on running most of it. However, Harry Johnstone found the grip, the legs or both and rode this section making up the deficit on MacDonald within two laps before riding off to take the win and make it four out of four. Gary MacDonald fought hard throughout making use of his strong running and finished a worthy 2nd at 22s with Dave Duggan at 1.30. Rab Wardell is riding himself into form race by race and finished 4th at 1.42 - he should be fitter, faster and more motivated at Irving in Sunday after this performance.
Male Vets 40+
Gary McCrae continued his fine winning ways and rode this race from the front leaving the real battle behind between Stephen Jackson (Glasgow Utd) and returning former Scottish champ Craig Hardie. Craig Hardie was maybe a little rusty for the first few laps as Stephen Jackson pulled out an early lead but Hardie wound him in in the closing laps and looked to be in touch with a lap to go. Jackson dug in and began to re-extend his lead to take second ( 27s) in front of a tiring but happy Hardie (42s) wheelying over the line for third. Graeme Cross took a fine fourth place but looked disappointed to be off the podium.
Male Vets 50+
This was a Fife battle with Brendan Roe and Mick Nally both riding on home mud and battling well throughout the race. Brendan Roe put a couple of yards into Nally lap on lap and managed to build up a wee gap on his club mate. Martin Ferry put in a quietly effective race to get past Mick and sneak into 2nd just behind Brendan.
Finn Crowther rides every race exactly the same way - a hugely enthusiastic attack from the gun, a big lead and then big smiles as he pedals round to maintain the lead. Harris Holmes rode very well to take second at 28s from Conan Nicholson in third at 44s. ISal Cameron is also extremely strong and consistent in this age group and rides in much the same way beating Jessica Booth by 52 s and Eilidh Cameron by 1.16.
Under 10s and 12s
Its great to see separate races for Under 10s and Under 12s - the ability range is massive across this growth period and there can be massive discrepancies in speed in a big mixed bunch.
In the Under-12s, Luis Ryder scored a great victory over his rival Paddy Barnes by only 8s. Patrick has been dominant in this category all series and it took a strong, skilful performance from Luis to catch and pass this strong rider. Jamie Thomson took third at 22s. Emily Carrick-Anderson continued her dominant form to win by 15s from Katie Galloway but the stand out ride was from Rudie Shearer who rode through the field to get onto Katie's wheel and nearly take her on the last couple of laps.
Building on last week's second, Niamh used her mtb skills and her classic Kona to take a wonderful first from last week's winner and home rider Anna Birrell (2nd) and Isla Queen (3rd).
Innes McDonald continued his dominance in the Under-10s sprinting quickly into first and maintaining and then extending his lead lap after lap never looking back. Struan Shaw was second (56s) and Finn Johnstone was third (1.21).
Week on week, this is the most interesting race and we saw a shake up on the podium in this decent field of 25 riders. Isla Short cracked on from the gun and used her excellent technical skills to ride a wonderful race to take first. Jane Barr and Kerry MacPhee clashed early on and Kerry lost her rear mech in the ensuing tangle - she was forced to run nearly a whole lap to pick up her spare bike but still finished fourth tired and little crabbit. Jane Barr took second in front of a rapidly recovering Maddy Robinson. Kerry is now training hard on the track and we should expect a strong, determined performance from her on Sunday at Irving.
In the Vet Women, Brenda Callander maintained her great form to finish in front of perennial second Sian Tovey with a fantastically strong Caroline Harvey taking third in her first podium this season. Lindsay Branston must have found this a more testing course as she is always vying for the podium but finished well down on the leading three.
A complete change of podium this week. Conner Johnstone at last took first after a strong season always pushing hard. Max Bloor made use of his long legs and great running to take a well-deserved second (43s) in front of Lewis Gray (1.00). Megan Wilkinson totally bossed the female juniors putting a big gap between her and Eleanor Strathdee (2nd) and Katie Allen (3rd).
Under 16s and 14s
In the Under-16s Rory McGuire pushed last week's winner Charlie Aldridge into second place by only a second in a very close run race. Callum Cooper continued his good form to take third. Anna McGorum continued to dominate this category from her closest rival Ishbel Strathdee but by a closer margin this week, Polly Henderson finished third at 2.28.
The Under-14 male category is really competitive with the podium changing every week, this week Corran Carrick-Anderson beat last week's winner into second by 28s with ben McMullen riding into third in conditions more suited to this mtb rider. All change also in the Under-14 females as Eilidh Shaw took first in front of Elena McGorum (2nd) and Imani Pereira-Jones in third.