Gabriella Nordin at Tour of the Battenkill

Gabriella Nordin should be known to the female racers in the Scottish scene and to most of the men who pay attention to the women’s scene. But to those of you who don’t, she is a 25-year old postgraduate student who races in the tartan and black of Pedal Power RT.

I had noticed Gabriella entering some pretty big races recently – she seemed to be taking the sport about as seriously as an amateur can do. She raced the Tour of the Reservoir this weekend but unfortunately was caught in a crash that scuppered her race. She is coached by pedal power employee Gary Hand, who also races for KTM Road and Trail and is current Scottish Elite RR Champion. “Having a specific training program makes it much easier to juggle training with my studies. This is the first season that I’m doing structured training and I’m noticing the benefits so far,” she told me.

She has contributed to the blog her report of her race at the Pro/1/2 women’s race at the Tour of the Battenkill, a one-day race in Cambridge, upstate New York, in the style of the European Cobbled Classics.

Gabriella, 2nd from right
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Observations from the Scottish Bike Show

I missed the Tour of Flanders to take my 5 year old to the Scottish Bike Show today. The show has moved towards a family event, and I’d like my little one to get into bike riding, but of her own accord, because she likes it. I have marketing on my mind right now, for various reasons,

I’d have liked to attend on the Saturday, of course, and hear what Sir Chris, Brian Smith and Finlay Pretsell had to say, and then catch de Ronde today with a few chilled Chimays. I suspect that is what many folks did, given today was reportedly quieter than the Saturday, but family is where it’s at for me right now.

I was greeted outside the show hall by David Brennan who was leafletting for the Pedal On Parliament Scotland event on Saturday 26th April. I have meant to attend this gathering in the past, as safer cycling is something I want for my own and my kids’ future. Guerilla marketing, perhaps, but David is always open for a friendly chat and was interested to absorb the views / observations I offered from the Stirling perspective – is enforcing a rule that kids must operate their own lock encouraging younger ones to ride to school, for example?

Scottish Bike Show 2014

Inside the hall, we headed for Kiddimoto’s inflatable track (above), which is a superb way for them to market their balance bikes, helmets and accessories and I5 went back for three shots on it. She has all but grown out of the Firstbike balance bike I bought her 3 years ago, and it has done it’s job of circumventing the need for stabilisers, so she was fully confident here and at the upper end of the age range for this attraction.

Scottish Bike Show 2014

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5 Bakasana crow pose72

Make the difference to your cycling training – with yoga?

This piece was originally provided by Simon Kirkness for the Dig In At The Dock race programme this January. He had had a blistering start to the cross season in Autumn 2013 with a podium place at Callendar Park. I asked him what had made the difference in getting improved results. If you are starting to make a plan for the 2014-15 ‘cross season, or just getting back into proper riding after winter hibernation, read on for inspiration…

I was getting a bit tired of being the pumped not the pumper, so after the end of last season I changed a few things to try to compete with the fast boys and give me the edge on some of the other guys. We all know it’s not about just riding the bike faster, harder and longer – there’s a bit more to it.

Lomond Shores CX 2013 (15 of 23)
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Crit on the Campus 2014: Youth race reports

The following report may used by any news outlets provided Stirling Bike Club / Owen Philipson are credited.

Stirling Bike Club’s inaugural Crit on the Campus was held today (Sunday 23rd March) at the chilly but sunny setting of Stirling University. Organiser Andrew Wilson had negotiated a traffic-free closed circuit on Scotland’s most beautiful campus. The challenging circuit was to reward technically skilled riders with long speed bumps, a few small ramps and some swooping bends included.

Youth D/E
The action-packed day kicked off at 8:30 with under-10 and under-8 boys and girls competing together in the Youth D/E category for 15 minutes +1 lap. Owen Moran of North Argyll CC beat 18 other boys to win the Youth D category by 4 seconds followed by Archie Ellen of Edinburgh RC in 2nd and Robin Purves of Stirling BC closely behind in 3rd.

The Glasgow Riderz dominated the 7 girls in the Youth D category, with Imani Pereira-Jones, Skye Donnelly and Kasha Butz taking 1st, 2nd and 3rd places.

Jacob Moore win the Youth E boys with the riders in the same age category grouping themselves together – Jake Speed of Tay Titans only 2 seconds behind him and Andrew Brewer of Glasgow Riderz a few seconds further back in 3rd.

Lastly, of the three Youth E girls competing in the race, Isla McCutcheon of Johnstone Jets beat Kristin Peil of Edinburgh RC and Katie Sandilands, Ross-shire CC.

Youth C
Next up was the Youth C category for riders under 12. At the front of the race, the win came down to a sprint for the line, with Hamish McLaren of Johnstone Jets just pipping Callum Reid of Stirling BC in a photo finish. Aaron King was 2 seconds back in 3rd.

Crit on the Campus 2014

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Scottish Bike Show 2014

The Scottish Bike Show is held on 5th and 6th April at the Glasgow Emirates Arena and I will be going on the Sunday after missing last year.

Event supremo Rowan Mackie explained what is happening at the show this year on a recent Velo Club Don Logan podcast. The family demographic is something that is good for me, because in 2011 and 2012 I dragged my young daughter along only to struggle chat to anyone for any length of time as she scurried this way and that. This time I’m hoping to get her on the kiddimoto track and seek out a few options for her next bike.


New exhibitors come in the form of Brompton Bicycle, Planet X, Hoy Bikes and Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative. SBS 2014 will also be bringing back the Bike Track People to create a huge pump track for the kids and big kid visitors. Rollapaluza will be onboard to entertain with 500m or 1km dash, The Clan stunt team, a new bike fit studio sponsored by Bikeradar for anyone who wants the perfect fit on their bike at half the cost and plenty more all located on the SBS 2014 website.

Really interesting, for me are the seminars and talks in the SBS Theatre, despite the fact I probably won’t be able to see them. It will play host to Sir Chris Hoy, Craig McLean, Finlay Pretsell (Director of being David Millar and Standing Start), James McCallum, Brian Smith and a few more names to be revealed shortly.
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1 Rigmar Racers Meadowbank

Who are “The Racers”?

– After noticing a new Scottish development team, “The Racers”, on twitter and scoring an early season result via Jack Barret at the Velo29 winter series south of the border, I got in touch to find out more. To my surprise, I found that the team was not brand new, but born out of an existing track club, based at Meadowbank Velodrome. I seem to have scored the journalistic jackpot, because after one of The Racers wrote me this piece to explain what they are all about, they scored another result at the Dick Longdragon Road Race, with Philip Trodden winning and Fin Young third. 

So, the Rigmar Racers, eh? The team’s slick new website went live last Monday, and since then there have been a fair few questions flying about. To clear any clouds of confusion, I shall try to enlighten you on this new look team stepping up in 2014.

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Tips for 4th cat racers: get your 3rd cat!

There comes a time in every man’s life where he must leave behind the 4th category road racers and make the step up to ‘the big time’. After about 5 years of trying, I finally managed to get the hallowed 10 points* in 2013 and the 3rd category road race license that came with it. This may actually be a curse rather than a blessing for someone like me, but that is another blog post. But as the season approaches let’s ask: how do you get your 3rd cat?

It's been a while, Mack

*Know the rules
This year the British Cycling rulebook, Tech reg 6.2.2 states that you now need 12 points to get to 3rd cat. How many points are available in your races, and down to what placing? You can find this information on the British Cycling website, and by checking the category of race you are entering.

Target your efforts- make 3rd the goal
In 2012, I tried a mixture of things, APRs, time trials, road races of different categories, and I didn’t do well at any of them. I went better in 2013 when I focused on the points, picked 4th cat and 3/4 road races that I thought I could place well at, and trained specifically to be fit for them (see ‘train smart’ below).

Be super talented
I have found that strong juniors, triathletes and newcomers can clean up in the first few races. If you are starting the season fit, or feel that this is your year, be aware that some strong new faces will be there. Maybe after a month these guys will have moved up already and found their level. If you are one of ‘these guys’, get stuck in straight away!

The solo winner

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Top flight racing in Edinburgh

In the past week or so, we had the news that Edinburgh will host the Red Bull Hill Chasers series and a round of the Tour Series of criterium races in 2014.

The Red Bull Hill Chasers is a Hi-NRG hill climb eliminator, which was run last year up the cobbles of Cockburn Street, with competitors encouraged to use any bike.


The event will take the stage on April 14th this year up the Mound, possibly the first time Edinburgh has seen bike racing up The Mound since 1989, when the Kellogg’s city centre crits visited the city?

Robert Millar, The Mound, Edinburgh 1989

Robert Millar, The Mound, Edinburgh 1989

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Ronnie Park, VC Stella

In one of my previous posts, I tracked the growth of the VC Stella, a club formed in Scotland as a formidable race outfit. In the 1950s in Britain, road racing was only just taking off, as a segment of cyclists sought to break away from the touring and time trialling culture and emulate their continental heroes of the Monument Classics, the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.

John Kennedy was one of the VC Stella’s most successful riders, winning the Scottish Road Race championship in the 50s, amongst numerous other results, and going on to a professional career on the continent. The SCU team for the Oats 8-day Circuit of Britain, and later the Milk Race, was often comprised of mainly VCS members.

One of the founder members of VCS, Ronnie Park, was an accomplished rider about whom little is known today. I hadn’t heard his name until I began researching the VCS.

Below shows the start of the Glasgow Highland Games road race, in George Square in June/July 1954. The race was won by Joe Mead of St Christopher RC.

L-R Albert Wheeler (Douglas CC), David Ross, James Kelly, Ronnie Park (all VC Stella). Continue reading

Q&A: Looking forward to Dig In At The Dock Cyclocross

The Dig In At The Dock cyclocross event has an impressive profile – it’s great what a few enthusiastic individuals, social media promotion and elbow grease can do.

I maybe do a disservice to all the hard work put in behind the scenes, but the point is, willing volunteers, fostering a rabidly enthusiastic community and fuelling the banter on facebook and twitter can go a hell of a long way for local events.

I have been helping out with the race programme, co-ordinating the articles, chasing up text, sourcing images and performing a general ‘overseer’ role. I’m also looking forward to getting muddy again on the course itself. With all that in mind, here is a light-hearted look forward to the race.

John: Thanks for helping us with the race programme this year Owen. You’re a star.

OP: No problem. It’s great to see so many people contributing: various people have written pieces, the photographers have been very generous in submitting their work – it’s like the race itself – so many people muck in.

Dave: So how are you finding the cross this year? You had a decent year: got the 3rd cat on the road?
Yeah- was pleased with the road season, I found out that I was better at crits than road races so got a few points there. I thought a modicum of success at the 1 hour circuit format might transfer over to cyclocross, but I still have to hone the off-road skills quite a bit.

Dave: Aye, you need to practice more. Been training hard?
No- it’s into winter ‘off-season’ for me now and my fitness is probably the lowest it has been all year.

John: That’s what everyone says before our race! Bunch of liars the lot of yous.
I’ve had a cold! And have been busy with work and family – just want to get my excuses in early. Plus, my transformation from roadie to cyclocrosser is still underway.

Dave: Fine, but we expect you to do a full cross season next year. You need to get into the muddy races as well as the nice leafy ones in autumn.
We’ll see.

taking in the sun at Callendar Park, October 2013
A sunny and leafy Calendar Park 2013, image by Ian Henderson

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