SDA Scottish Championships Glencoe
The red route isn’t a downhill track, it’s for cross country bikes isn’t it? Well I have 2 smashed wheels and a massive smile on my face that would disagree with you.
Glencoe is famous for it’s insanely difficult black route. The Scottish Champs was raced on that track back in a wet 2009 and Ben Cathro clinched his only Scottish Champions title on that weekend. Since then lots of rain and snow melt has eroded the black into a state of disrepair that’s not fit for holding an event. The SDA made the decision to race the “tamer” red route in 2013 which was well received by most. The same decision was made for this year and the red route didn’t disappoint. Some fresh berms and new jumps meant the track had better flow and more variety which put smiles on everyone’s faces. (Glencoe have just hired two permanent track builders and the Black Route is nearly back to it’s former glory!)
With a shaky looking weather forecast many racers stayed away and boy did they miss out. Dusty trails, light breeze, no midges, and lots of good times. The track took a while to figure out, not because it was hard to remember but because the speeds required were so high. Lots of sections had you dragging brakes and swerving through the rough when in reality you had to be sprinting in and skipping over the top. Combine that with loose dust and sporadic boulders that seemed to materialise every run and you’ve got a challenging track, perfect for the Scottish Champs.
So those riders that made it to race day without destroying their bikes in the many rock gardens put themselves against the clock to see who would come out on top.
Juveniles saw some shredders from south of the border make the trip up to race the champs. Not being eligible for the title they were here purely for the recognition. Luke Birkett’s run of wins has been ended by his friend Adam Beaty who took the win with a beasting sub 3 minute time. Luke settled for second after flatting 1 turn from the finish line. In the champs race Henry Kerr stepped up his game to become Scottish Champion with Jamie Edmondson showing awesome speed to score second and Callum Galloway settled into 3rd.
Youth was another category dominated by the south with English Sick Skills racer James Purvis winning the race by a healthy 7 seconds in front of Jack Tennyson. William Sainsbury pulled out a stormer on his second run to become Scottish Champ with Alistair Maclennan snapping at his heels in second. Lee McIver rounded out the Champs podium in a solid 3rd spot.
The Junior men category saw the return of Frazer McCubbing after his recovery from a broken elbow. Not long back on the bike he managed to get up to speed and look comfortable on track despite carrying a cold. A mint run from him gave him the Champs title and 4th fastest time of the day. Sam Herd slotted into second on a borrowed bike, the splits showing that he lost time up top and Calum McGee managed to put together a solid run to claim an excellent 3rd place.
Junior Women has some real talent at the moment. Elena Melton in her first year of racing downhill became the Scottish Champ with a time that smashed the senior women to bits. Rona Strivens wasn’t far back in 2nd with a puncture loosing her time at the bottom. Freya Avis rode really well to score 3rd behind the older girls and claimed another medal for her collection. (Interestingly enough, 1st and 2nd attended the Sick Skills race coaching session at Glencoe. Maybe that’s why they smashed the seniors…)
Senior Women saw a repeat win from the unlucky Rebecca Kennedy who 2 weeks prior had her bike stolen. She wheeled out her old bike and scored another Champs Jersey in convincing fashion. Debs Primrose is becoming a regular podium contender on her “enduro” bike with an excellent second place and Sandra Scally managed to stop talking and singing to herself on track long enough to post an excellent time to score 3rd.
Master men was graced with the presence of an old great, Ex Scottish champ and series winner Ian Cookson came out of retirement to have a go. Having missed practice he still managed to claim 4th place which is damned impressive. Alan Blyth took his gammy knee to a cracking 1st spot and hobbled away with the Scottish Champs title in hand. David Duggan had to settle for second spot only a fraction of a bawhair behind Blyth with Chris Coates claiming the 3rd and final spot on the podium.
Veteran Men had Big Al Maclennan return to his winning ways despite being twice the age of all the other competitors (Give or take 30 years). Great result from him and another title for the collection. John Young took inspiration from his Monster Pj’s and monstered his way into second spot with Neil Wilson slotting into 3rd after two consistent runs.
The seniors, as always, are an amalgamation of Senior, Expert and Elite with them all battling out for the one title. After winning the title here 5 years ago I was keen for a repeat. I punctured on my first run as did Greg Williamson leaving Lewis Buchannan sitting pretty in 1st by a comfortable margin. The pressure was on for race runs and the battle was between the three of us. Lewis bettered his first run time impressing the crowd with his speed in the bottom turns. Greg then appeared clearly up on Lew’s time and rode smoothly into the finish to post a 2.34, 3 seconds faster than Lew. I was last man down the hill and I was on a stormer. I hit the pinball section no brakes and gapped over the rough rocks giving me great speed through the speed trap (60kph). I carried my speed onto the lower section and into the final turns. I could hear Dave the commentator shouting that I’d have to get on the gas to beat Greg. I dug deep and pedalled my tits off up to the line to slot into first, 2 seconds up on Greg. Scottish Champ and well proud!
Well as you can tell I had an excellent race, not just because I won but because the event was brilliant. Looking forward to the next one in Innerleithen.
Enter the races at – www.sda-races.com
Words – Ben Cathro – www.sickskills.co.uk
Photos – Malcom Porter – www.markedmediahouse.com