As the days shorten and we crash full pelt into December, all thoughts of the season long narrative of the SCX Series are pushed to one side and the focus shifts to the Scottish CX Championships.
(Photo: Jay Golian)
Given the weather of recent days, a few riders may be secretly hoping for a repeat of the iron-hard conditions of the 2016 Champs at Lochore, but most, I suspect, would rather have mud, deep, deep sand and a thaw to lift the icy conditions currently gripping this year’s venue at Knockburn Loch.
The biggest change to the Knockburn course this year has been the addition of a longer, more technical climb to the top of a huge, straight-line descent about 200m long, a drop that will definitely favour the brave at the front of the field. The lines in the paddock area are tighter than last year with more switchbacks and a steep 180º turn into a short off camber climb that may become unrideable quite early in the day. The changes add up to a longer lap (2.7km) with a bit more climbing than previous years, and a lengthened, draggy uphill start straight means the field should hit the wooded section fairly strung out.
Dinosaurs at Hallocross and man-eating barriers at Plean bookmarked a cold Lapierre SCX Series race at Lochore, where a rampant Mark McGuire (100% ME) took the Senior Men’s race from Gary MacDonald (Nevis Cycles Racing Team) and Ian Paton (Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique). With those three being joined by Plean winner (and local favourite) Davie Duggan at the lineup at the more technical Champs course in Aberdeenshire, the Senior Men’s race could be quite a tussle.
Current leader of the Lapierre SCX Women’s Series and winner at Lochore and Plean, Eileen Roe (Team WNT) may fancy her chances going into the Championships a strong favourite, although Kerry McPhee has also been very strong this season, and they'll both be wary of the challenge that’s bound to come from WC MTB racer Isla Short (OMX Pro Team) in her first CX race since Mull last year.