For twenty-five years we’ve been racing cross around Auchentoshan. For twenty-five years brave souls have been hurtling round the trees and through the bomb-hole, throwing themselves down the valley, crossing the stream then dragging themselves up the bank after getting covered in the omnipresent mud. Its nickname is ‘The Splosh in The Tosh’ - it’s supposed to be, well....sploshy. Not this year though - it decided to celebrate its jubilee year by being decidedly on the dry side. There have been complaints about this from certain members of the East coast fraternity but overall the 200 odd racers that turned out on Sunday seemed more than happy with the clear skies and relatively hard ground. George Buchanan took over the running of the race this year from Alan Quinn and did a champion job. Everyone got parked, races started on time, Jammie could be heard all over the course thanks to extra speakers - there were even flowers for the winners! Sort of...
It was a challenging course, as always, but made more so with the addition of two terraced banks. We had been banned from these for a number of years but they made a welcome return this year. I’m not sure how welcome they were to the racers but the double spectacle of increasingly ropey descents then steep, slidey grassy ascents up the other side was great fun for the spectators. Cowbells were rung, voices were screamed hoarse - it was a few cobbles away from a Flandrian Muur.
The turnout continues to be strong with the under 12s. This week their course even included a run up. “They’ll never cycle up that” we thought. Wrong! Respect is due to the riders that made it look easy. Jamie Willougby took charge of the race from the gun, extending a good lead in no time. Cameron Mason moved up to second on the second lap and tried to give chase but Jamie looked the most comfortable throughout. He lost a bit of ground on the third lap when he slipped his chain but not enough to give others a chance. Calum Shackley was in third for the majority of the race but Calum Fernie was determined to get that last podium spot and managed to get past him on the last lap.
Yet again the girls tried to keep up with Rhona Callander but she was just too strong for them - taking off into the lead and staying there. The Wallace Warriors did make a good job of taking over the girls’ podium though.
The start of the race really had to be Alexander Quinn though. At four years old, in his first race, he completed three laps and then carried on cycling round the park for the whole day. A future 24 hour enduro rider if ever I saw one!
Under 12 - Girls
1st Rhona Callander - SBC Wallace Warriors
2nd Katie Allen - SBC Wallace Warriors
3rd Emily Field - SBC Wallace Warriors
1st Jamie Willoughby - Drumlanrig RR
2nd Cameron Mason - West Lothin Clarion
3rd Calum Fernie - ERC
Under 10 - Girls
1st Abbi Stewart - Glasgow Riderz
2nd Emma Forsyth - ERC
3rd Ariana Willoughby - Drumlanrig RR
1st Robert Fernie - ERC
2nd Hamish Maclaren - Johntone Jets
3rd Keir Robb - Peebles CC
1st Callum Reid - Wallace Warriors
2nd Murray Fotheringham - Unattached
3rd Gregor Robb - Glasgow Riderz
The under 16s took on the full course which proved to be pretty tough for some. To be fair it was pretty tough for most of the seniors too so no need to feel too bad!
One rider didn’t seem to find it tough at all - Tom Arnstein. He was leading by the hurdles and that lead just got bigger and bigger as the race went on. Was he in the wrong race? Maybe some more mud might have slowed him down! He crossed the winning line and everyone waited patiently to see who was second. Almost four minutes later Hamish Carrick appeared round the corner. I think that’s what you call a commanding performance. A minute later Calum Foster finished to take third.
Under 16 - Girls
1st Louise Borthwick - ERC
1st Tom Arnstein - Velo Ecosse
2nd Hamish Carrick - Kelso Wheelers
3rd Calum Foster - Leslie Bike Shop
1st Isla Short - Glentress Riders
2nd Erika Allen - Stirling Bike Club/Wallace Warriors
3rd Eve Hanlon Cole - Peebles CC
1st Calum MacGowan - Peebles CC
2nd Stuart Balfour - Peebles CC
3rd Edward Fletcher - Cairngorm CC
Vets, Women and Juniors
What alot of vets! There was a truly impressive starting line up for this race prompting another staggered start to try to avoid the usual bottle neck. It didn’t really work but everyone got going soon enough and the race was on. Brendan Roe and James Melville were first over the hurdles but were chased down by the usual suspects: Gary McCrae and John McCafferty. Gary wasn’t having it all his own way this week with John leading for the first few laps. Maybe he was just lulling him into a false sense of hope - he overtook soon enough and took the win. Albeit with a smaller margin than we’ve seen throughout the season. A win is a win though!
Franco Porco had better mechanical luck this week and made the most of it. He got the better of Brendan on the terraces and made it stick to take third. Unfortunately Brendan had to pull out with a pulled muscle, as did another usual high finisher Mick Nally. Hopefully they’ll be all healed by next week.
Junior rider Grant Fergusson had a fantastic race - easily beating the other juniors and finishing third overall. Some people just made that banking look easy!
In the womens’ race Alexis put up a strong fight but Elke Schmidt got closer and closer and made her move on the third lap.
Special mention should be made of Fiona Walker who apparently had a spectacular crash/face first slide along the grass. Sadly this was not caught on video... Also Robert Mersey who managed to finish despite having no less that four mechanicals. Better luck next week Robert.
1st Grant Fergusson - Dooleys Cycles
2nd Scott Lindsay - i-Cycles
3rd Charles Fletcher - Cairngorm CC
1st Elke Schmidt - Squadra Porcini
2nd Alexis Barnes - Team Icarus
3rd Maddy Robinson - Velo Club Moulin
1st Gary McCrae - Team Leslie Bike Shop/Right Move Windows
2nd John McCafferty - Team Leslie Bike Shop/Right Move Windows
3rd Franco Porco - Falkirk BC
Andy Wardman was first over the hurdles but his lead was short-lived as Davie Lines took over through the trees. Craig Hardie had a bit of a pedal mishap at the start so had some extra work to do to get through the field. Neil Walker suffered an unfortunate busted rear mech on the first lap and had to run most of it to get to the pits for a bike change.
Craig recovered from his set back at the start and was soon chasing down Davie Lines - helped by Davie having a mechanical. Craig was in the lead but James Fraser-Moodie wasn’t far back and is always strong round this course. Would Craig manage to hold him off this week? It was a cracking race for the spectators with Craig closely followed by James, closely followed by Andy, closely followed by Davie! Rob Friel was also up there for the first half of the race but rolled a tub and decided to retire.
Time and time again they climbed up the bank yelled (and sometimes pushed) on by the crowd. Some rode, some ran, some staggered, some tried to ride then ran, some rode and fell off, but only one person rode to the top then did wheelies. Show off.
Despite the showboating Craig (did you really think it was anyone else?) managed to hold onto his narrow lead and took his third win of the season. Andy didn’t quite have it in the legs to catch James but held Davie off for third.
There were trophies all round throughout the day with Craig picking up an extra anniversary one for fastest lap of the day - only one second in it between him and James.
1st Craig Hardie - Hardie-bikes.com
2nd James Fraser-Moodie - Pedal Power RT
3rd Andy Wardman - Velo Club Moulin
Everyone looked thoroughly done in by the end but it was a great day. Well done to all involved and thanks to everyone who helped out.
Report by Ainsley Turbitt