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Hat tip to Robbie Hassan

Robbie Hassan announced recently, on his blog, that he was hanging up his racing wheels.

Robbie was a Braveheart funded U23 rider who moved to Spain to race full time and have a real go at making it as a pro bike rider. He is someone who I have followed since getting into road cycling in 2008 and starting this blog so I wanted to tip my hat to his career, even if it has ended before he reached the goals he would have wanted.

The impact of a 12-week knee injury on top of struggles against health an allergy setbacks have led to the decision to call it a day.

As I followed the local racing scene in 2009 and 2010, Endura were dominating with a strong squad of all the best Scottish riders including Oliphant, Hand, McCallum, Lines and Creber. I celebrated any club rider who could get a result against them and got myself into trouble once or twice trying to stir up light-hearted banter on twitter that got taken badly.

Robbie Hassan
Disappointed with 5th in the Scottish champs 2010 behind 4 Enduras  Continue reading

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Davie Lines – The (fire)man who would be king

Orinally published in the Dig In At The Dock 2014 programme in January, this piece, by David Hamill, looks back on Davie Lines’ 2013 cyclocross season and celebrates his choice as honorary reigning Scottish series champion.

Bike racing is a cruel sport. Most people who race bikes never win and those who do win will more often lose. Losing (or not winning) is something even the best bike racers need to get used to. It’s part of the sport. The history books don’t provide a great deal of discussion about who came second, third or fourth. If they did Davie Lines might be a bit of a legend.

Davie Lines works as a firefighter in Edinburgh and also races bikes for Starley Primal. If you were to assign Davie a specialism in bike racing it would probably be criterium road racing. As a past Scottish champ he’s got plenty of results to back this up. But to badge Davie a crit rider is to do him a disservice. He competes on the road, on the track and in cyclocross and he does this all at a very high level.  Continue reading

Dig Deep Coaching – cyclocross race tips

Dig Deep Coaching logo

Dig Deep Coaching comprises former pro riders Stephen Gallagher and Dan Fleeman, with Mandy Collie providing business expertise to the team.

The company works closely with National cyclocross champion Ian Field, who was up in Fife recently for a two-day training camp organised by some of the Team Leslie Bike Shop / Bikers Boutique people.

<a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/dnet/5118551127″ title=”Ian Field &amp; Eddy van IJzendoorn by E. Dronkert, on Flickr”><img src=”https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1363/5118551127_9eddc57808_z.jpg” width=”640″ height=”400″ alt=”Ian Field &amp; Eddy van IJzendoorn”></a>

Dan and Ian released a webinar entitled ‘Cyclocross Season – Time To Get Ready‘. The 1-hour presentation comprises audio and slides covering a vast array of tips to get more out of your cyclocross racing, including equipment choices, skills drills and training sessions.

I have always enjoyed absorbing as much of this sort of information I can during the past 5 years racing. While it’s always enjoyable and sociable to just go out and ride with clubmates, I found that doing working on my own (to heart rate, although power is better) with specific training sessions, and focusing on structured high intensity interval sessions allowed me to get the best race fitness while juggling the finely balanced work/family/cycling equation.

Tips from the Two Johns Podcast, Coach Joe Beer Podcast and Joe Friel’s website added to my knowledge over that time and I highly recommend the webinar above. If you want to take things further, Dig Deep Coaching offer 6 and 12 week training plans for cyclocross.

A friend of mine, based in rural Aberdeenshire, found that his connection speed was too low to run the webinar, so for his benefit and that of others, I’ve summarised the key points below. Continue reading

Talking cyclocross with Sporza’s Renaat Schotte

Renaat Schotte works for Sporza on Belgian TV and is often found reporting from the motorbike during one day classics and grand tours, or from the pits during ‘cross races. Fellow blogger Andrew Rafferty managed to catch up with him for a piece for the Dig In At The Dock race programme last January.

AR: I asked him why cyclocross is so popular in Belgium.
RS: ‘There has been a continual process of professionalising and modernising. More so than other countries who were also traditionally strong at cross, like Spain and Switzerland. And as popularity increased and crowds grew, the races got bigger and riders became more successful, which increased the popularity and so on. A virtuous cycle.’

Is it fair to say that it’s a not a Belgian thing, but a Flemish thing?
‘Yeah, it’s not an exaggeration to say that. The races held this year in Walloonia (the French speaking part of Belgium) are actually organized by Flemish! And all other races organized by Walloons in the past have been cancelled.

Cyclocross is part of Flemish life, like speed skating in Holland or Skijumping in Germany.’
Or bagpipe playing in Scotland?

‘Exactly, ha ha.
Look at how things have changed on the TV. In the early 90s you could watch maybe six races a year. Now its three or four times that, with bpost, superprestige, World Cup and National and World Championships. Plus numerous standalone races. It’s getting bigger.

BK Veldrijden 2013 Mol

We see the same thing here in Scotland, albeit on a smaller scale as the number of races, participants and spectators grow. And many people watch Sporza broadcasts online. Can you give your Scottish viewers some key words to listen out for?

Greppel (chreppel) means ditch and Beek (bake) means burn or stream. You should hear them in most races. Zandstrook (zandstroke) means sand section like at Koksijde.

(Or Irvine!) Continue reading

“Dummy Jim” from Scotland to the Arctic circle

Filmmaker Matt Hulse has produced a biopic of deaf Aberdeenshire cyclist James Duthie, known as “Dummy Jim”, who cycled solo from Scotland to the Arctic circle in 1951.

The film is touring Scotland, starting at the Glasgow Film Theatre on 6th July, going around the North and North East, and finishing at the Edinburgh Film Festival on the 17th.

It weaves fiction, documentary, animation and archive to explore the eccentric adventures of profoundly deaf Scots long-distance cyclist James Duthie who hailed from the close-knit Aberdeenshire fishing community of Cairnbulg and Inverallochy. In 1951, he set out on a lone cycling tour to Morocco. After three months of pedalling, he reached the Arctic Circle. “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” 12 years in the making, Hulse crafts a multi-layered memorial to a quietly determined maverick and the community that shaped him, with present-day village inhabitants emerging as creative participants. Deaf actor Samuel Dore leads.

From Matt Hulse on Vimeo.

Read more on STV Aberdeen:

Duthie kept a detailed journal of his marathon voyage and meticulously chronicled his myriad experiences. His original intention was to set off for Morocco.

But, as the trailer for the film points out, he never made it.

Instead, a much more dramatic scenario unfolded as the deaf Buchan cyclist entered a completely different world from anything he had experienced before.

“He was one of those adventurous souls who was very curious, very determined, and never let anything get in his way, and that was inspiring,” said Hulse.

“When you think that he was profoundly deaf and growing up in a small community in the 1930s and 1940s, this must have been a huge step for him to take.

“But, although things didn’t always go to plan and he faced difficulties, I like the idea of this wonky cyclist persevering and doing things his way.”

http://tour.dummyjim.com/

When wheel changes were not allowed

Found on the blog of former BLRC track and road rider Alf Buttler comes this story from the 1954 Tour of Ireland.

I was on the motorcycle and had with me a new pair of wheels that I had built complete with freewheel and tyres, we fitted these on the rear carrier with only three toe straps (very like Mavic do now for mountain stages and/or time trials in the big tours on the continent). Outside the headquarters we found the Scottish team in deep conversation near our Ariel… their manager, who we took an instant dislike to, said ‘you cannot carry them wheels its against the rules’. Where are these rules? we asked, he could not produce any. But the next day before the start of the race he got the commissionaires to get us to remove the tyres as it gave us an unfair advantage. This silly way of going on went on for at least 2 years because in the Peace Race the following year no team was able to fit a wheel complete. If a rider punctured he had to change his own tyres. This rule was changed by U.C.I for 1956

A recap of the race by Jock Wadley for The Bicycle is recorded for posterity on the excellent historical website Tour-Racing.co.uk.

Scotsman John Kennedy, riding for the Scotland team, was second on the first stage, which was won solo by Bernard Pusey, riding for the England “A” team. Kennedy kept his place on GC after stage 2, where breakaway men Shay Elliott and Stan Brittain were caught a mile from the line.

He disappears from the top 10 in the stage 3 results and given that only 15 of 108 riders finished, you can assume that if a crash or a mechanical had not ruled him out on this stage, he would have been one of the 59 abandons on a snowstorm-hit stage 6.

An R. Mackay of the Scotland was 14th on the final GC, but he wasn’t the only Scot to finish – John Burrowes of the VC Stella rounded out the classification in 15th (and last). His teammate, Ron Park was 6th, albeit 30 minutes down.

Tour-racing’s recap is a good read, including such drama as a runaway horse and cart which led to the death of a rider, the snowstorms and mass abandons, and a neutralised final stage.

Scottish Time Trialling: photoset

I shot pictures at the Corrieri’s Classic 10 time trial in early March and posted them on Stirling Bike Club’s flickr account – the aim of the game being to get the action shots published as quickly as possible for the benefit of the competitors and the event organisers.

Gone are the days of race previews and news on this blog: Life, The Universe and Everything has taken over and the type of writing that isn’t time-bound has taken precendence: historical pieces, route reviews, and contributed content such as interviews or race PR from the organisers.

I wanted to revisit my photos from that TT though, and process a few of the image files to give an alternative view. Amidst the action and competitor shots, I wanted to look for the little details and take a few sideways glances at racing against the clock – similar to how Balint Hamvas shoots cyclocross. Not being a time trial stalwart myself, this was a challenge – do these evoke the feel of an early season TT in Scotland? What are the feelings that run through your mind as you warm up, head to the start, and the clock ticks down to your start time?

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Sign-on

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Headwind on the course.

A chat before the start
Relaxed before the start  Continue reading

Central Scotland Wheelers Cowie Road Race, 1986

Actor Greg Drysdale edited this old footage for the Stirling Cycle Hub short film competition a few months ago and I recognised some of my local roads on it.

The Central Scotland Wheelers (now City of Stirling Wheelers and still running a time trial on the Cambusbarron course) ran a race on the Cowie loope.

The loop is still used for Falkirk BC’s Billy Warnock memorial, which is one of the first races I entered.

Central Scotland Wheelers Cowie Road Race 1986 from Greg Drysdale (Actor) on Vimeo.

The course is largely flat but includes one steep little brae before the town and another incline as you come into the centre of town. If those are not enough to split the field up, an attack through the narrow twisty back roads between Cowie and the Bellsdyke Road might get away. I like the finish in Cowie, but you could never have that now with all the road furniture and speed bumps. Today’s finish on the main road is always a bit sketchy for me, with the bunch fanning out and cars invariably coming in teh other direction.

“Yes, really, 1986. I filmed it using our new (at the time) Sony CCD V8 AF E Video Camera.” explains Greg.

“I think it’s interesting not only because it’s a nostalgic record of a bike race that happened nearly 30 years ago… but also reveals some vintage cars (and vintage people!) and may be of some interest to the people of Cowie to see their old town and how it’s changed .”

Greg’s cousin Raymond was in one race (he is wearing black and yellow and can be seen on the right at the finish line.)

Please post up a comment if you were involved in the race or recognise anyone in it.

Battenkill

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.
Continue reading