Category Archives: Amateur

Wardell on ‘portage’

Rab Wardell opined on the technique of ‘portage’ – or carrying your bike, to the non-cyclocross aficionado – for the Dig In at the Dock 2014 race programme. With summer cross races now underway and thoughts moving towards the approaching season, I thought I’d revisit this with a new angle.

Portage – it is what separates cyclocross from all other disciplines of cycling. Lesser disciplines of cycling, one might argue. I’ve seldom heard a more eloquently phrased explanation of how this can inspire a lifelong love of ‘cross. I overheard one of our humble race organisers recalling a childhood memory to the Simon Burney. ‘Ah mind wotchin’ some ‘cross race on Grandstand, aboot 30 years ago! Ah wis just a lad and ah mind seein’ these guy fae Belgium an tha’ jumpin’ oer bits ae wid an’ tha’. The next day ah wis runnin’ roond the wids wi’ a road bike an’ ae’most got hypothermia. Quality likes! Thats the real deal…’

‘Yeah…’ Simon agreed.

I don’t think that anything in Scottish Cycling can compare to that moment you cross the burn at the ‘Tosh after 55 minutes, ready to shoulder your trusty steed and face that b*tch of a run-up one final time. Whether fighting for the victory, surviving the race, finishing for your first time or getting the better of your mate, one thing remains the same. As you try to slot your feet into the ankle deep, cold, muddy footholds. Digging your toe studs (if you’re lucky enough to have them) in the soil and push off, propelling your protesting, wheezing body and mud clogged, heavier-than-ever bike closer to the summit. It is incredibly painful. Horrific even.
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Scottish Road Champs, and the last Davie Bell

I heard on the Cycling Podcast  this week that this weekend’s road champs will also be the final edition of the Davie Bell road race.

Pocast host Richard Moore has been invited in a VIP capacity as a former winner. It’s a monument of Scottish cycling with a roll call of greats including Robert Millar, David Millar (no not that one), Jason McIntyre and pretty much everyone else who has had any success professionally or at the top of the amateur ranks.

“How come I didn’t know about this?!” I wailed. Chris Johnson did great publicity for the race in previous years, especially when the gravel sectors were included and when there was an appetite to step up to National A or even Premier status.

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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

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.

Ian Field & Eddy van IJzendoorn

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/

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

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.
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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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