Tag Archives: Glasgow

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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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.

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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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Nationality and the nationals

Today it is the National Road Race Championships in Glasgow. I looked at the course a little while back and the Spokedoke blog has done as good a preview as I could aspire to, so I thought I would post some alternative thoughts that have been rattling around my head.

As I began to establish my blog I looked for a niche angle to focus on – there were already numerous bloggers covering the international pro scene better than I ever could. Even in 2010 it was clear that Inner Ring was a cut above, and I thought that if I had no hope of writing pieces as good as that, I’d be better off staying local and focusing on Scotland.

Allez l'Écosse

A minority of people eschew their national allegiances when it comes to sport. For example, I have heard writer Daniel Friebe say he has no real interest or passion to see British winners in cycling. As he grew up, Italian riders and racing were what excited him and is where his support still lies.

One of Scotland’s greatest riders, Robert Millar, seemed to distance himself from Scotland and Glasgow as his early pro career took off, seemingly seeing himself as an outsider and apart from his own country. However after retirement he was quoted as saying he would vote SNP if he lived in Scotland. [Richard Moore, In Search of Robert Millar]

I am proud to be Scottish – it is a beautiful country, despite the weather and our achievements down the centuries in all manner of fields, from science to literature, as well as sport, are distinguished. I was born in Edinburgh, but my mother is Welsh and my Father English. In primary school I was slagged for my accent, as my R’s pretty soft, so I made a concerted effort to change the way I spoke to avoid the jibes. How Scottish does that make me?

Sport under a national banner is a powerful thing that can unite a country. Gino Bartali was asked in 1948 by politicians to win in France to boost a fragile post-war Italy, and his victory eased the tensions of internal feuding. But the nature of sport is that it is played out within the bounds of certain rules, and the place where national lines are drawn is different to other walks of life.

David Millar custom Scotland shoes

Contrast myself with David Millar, leaving aside the Grand Canyon-sized gulf in ability for a moment. Born to Scottish parents in Malta, he grew up in various places around the world;  ‘more Scottish’ than me by blood, but arguably with less of an affinity to the place.

I have heard the fairly cynical view that he only rode the Commonwealth Games as a route to the 2012 Olympics, but this doesn’t square with the pride and cameraderie that was obvious in his statements and those of his team-mates after his bronze medal in the road race Dehli 2010. In any case, there was no guarantee of London selection at that point, with the BOA’s lifetime ban for dopers still to be challenged. With the cynical hat back on, why would he bother with the national road race in Glasgow today? He has won it before and I’d expect him to avoid risking a crash ahead of the Tour de France. But his appearance today might show that he would be proud to win in Scotland. On balance his allegiance to Scotland still seems to be more of a sporting one rather than a cultural or social one, but maybe a return for Glasgow 2014 would tip the balance.

Kilmacolm Kermesse 5th May 2013

Ben Geenwood is a domestic rider who will be riding in Glasgow today for his Hope Factory Racing team. He was selected for the Ras recently and came under some harsh scrutiny for his English nationality. He has lived in Scotland for a while, has close family connections and is as much a part of the local scene as Scottish-born pros Evan Oliphant and James McCallum. Scottish Cycling, under pressure to justify their funding, will select the strongest national team from the riders available, with the best chance of posting a good result in a big race. Ben is popular in the Scottish cycling community and will have plenty of support if he is selected for Glasgow 2014. There will be some who feel that without Scottish blood or birthplace he is ‘not Scottish enough’, but we aren’t playing by those rules.

While the rules and moral interpretation of sport are not always clear-cut at the international level, politics also come into it on a personal and at a local level. It all depends how nationalistic you want to be.

British National Road Race course in Glasgow revealed

Yesterday British Cycling announced the course details of the National Road Races and time trials which will take place in Glasgow in the week of June 20-23.

The time trial will run through East Ayrshire on Thursday 20 June – it is the first time the time trial is being held the same week as the road race.

Glasgow 2013 nationals 1

The road race: course
Previously on Scottish forums, there was a lot of hand-wringing about the rumoured city centre course, with purists not happy at the lack of hills or the lost opportunity to explore the ‘traditional’ cycling terrain of central Scotland such as the Trossachs or the Campsies.

However the pros of having a city course mean that the race is taken to the people, there will be many more spectators than there would have been and the atmosphere should be fantastic. The city centre course is a bold move but is clearly looking to capitalise on the cycling boom and the increased interest amongst the general public. Of course it is a dry run for the Commonwealth Games 2014 but that event will be run on the same principles: take the racing to as many people as possible, die-hard fans or not.

The 14.2km circuit is like a long criterium and with 13 laps there are a lot of tight corners to deal with- especially around the Merchant City and Woodlands. There are some cobbles up in Park Circus, with the architecture and greenery up there will look good on TV. However it’s not clear whether the Park Circus section will take in the cobbles or skirt round. Similarly the University Avenue will provide another opportunity for the cameras to linger on our fantastic architecture. If we don’t get a shot of the cloisters I’ll be disappointed.

The race will actually go through Kelvingrove Park, rather than down Kelvin Way – possibly avoiding the undesirables – which is a fascinating inclusion. How they will do this I am not certain – surely it will have to be full barriers – in which case it will be narrow. Will team cars be able to get through here? Despite the lack of major climbs there will be other ways for teams to shed their rivals, and crashes, punctures or mechanicals may be key to ruining the chances of some riders.

Alan Anderson has already mapped the circuit on Strava: I wonder if any pros will upload their data?

The road race: riders
How it unfolds will depend on who enters- opinion is divided about Cavendish as he will be focusing on a big performance at the Tour for his new Omega Pharma Quick Step team. But he has often ridden the National RR in the past, but on hilly courses he tended to climb off after he was distanced. This time the course is more favourable to sprinters.

QSPS’ other British rider- Andy Fenn, who is qualified to ride for Scotland is another fast finisher who can last the distance over a long, tough championship course.

Spokey Doke blog is tipping BMC’s Adam Blythe and I am expecting a considered preview over there.

Could we see hardman Ian Stannard, who won many plaudits for his riding in the early classics attack from a long way out? Or if David Millar can get fit and healthy, and he is riding, he might be firing on all cylinders ahead of domestique duties at the tour, and could do something similar. Imagine a breakaway with those two.

Team Sky have the strength in depth – Wiggins, Froome, Thomas, Rowe, Kennaugh, Tiernan-Locke – to put all the others under pressure, but it remains to be seen how many of them will ride. Sky may be out to rectify their failure to live up to expectations in the one-day classics so the tactics will be interesting, but the onus will be squarely on them to ride, chase and control the race. Who will their leader or leaders be? Ben Swift has the fast finish and some big stage wins to his name. Maybe Thomas or Stannard could escape towards the end.

The tactics
I am of limited experience in analysing races or predicting outcomes but Sky will need to shed Cavendish to win. How you do that over a course with 6 lumps of only 40-50m in height on the profile I am not sure. It will have to be very fast, but Cav should be able to get to the finish. His lack of teammates may hinder him (he only has Andy Fenn I think) but we have seen him wheel-hop and win when he was isolated last year, when Sky were concentrating on their GC contenders.

What do you think? There is already an established thread on Braveheart but I’d love to hear your views in the comments below.

The Velo Club Stella and John Kennedy

In part 1 of this historical research project I looked into the Belleisle Road Club, based in the East end of Glasgow.

The story continues with the establishment of the Velo Club Stella in 1953, as a team concentrating on road racing, as opposed to the touring and time trialling that clubs tended to focus on.

Jimmy Rae recalled: The Stella Maris was around when I was a lad and was one of the first Road Racing clubs with the old SCU/BLRC, it had Hugo Koblet as its Patron. It changed its name to the VC Stella in ’53, amongst its members were John Burrows, John Kennedy, Bobby Dykes, Ronnie Park, Joe Linden, Archie Fitzgerald, Brenden Roberts, John McLaren, John Fraser, the Downes brothers. They were among the trail blazers for road racing at that time who faced a ban by the NCU/RTTC for taking part.

1955 Isle of Man018
“Velo Club Stella L to R: John Fraser, John Burrowes, Ronnie Park, Archie Fitsgerald, David Ross, James Kelly (all founder members) and Gordon Watson of Belleisle R.C.”

The Stella Maris was formed as a road racing club from the St Christopher’s CC, which itself was a Catholic club, former member Joe Linden told me. While the Stella Maris wasn’t deliberately closed to non-Catholics, the membership was predominantly Catholic, and he remembered some dubiety about the acceptance of non-Catholics. The VC Stella seems to have been established as a club that was specifically available to all, with it’s main objective being competitive road racing in the continental style.

VC Stella

John Burrowes, one of the founder members, wrote to Swiss rider Hugo Koblet, winner of the Tour de France in 1951 and the Giro d’Italia in 1950, to ask him to be honorary president of the new Velo Club Stella, and he agreed.

La Perle - Hugo Koblet - Le Pedaleur de Charme - lui-meme 1951

The background to this is the restrictive ethos of the NCU/RTTC federation, who were against racing on the open roads and wanted to keep the status quo of the past 50 years, where only time trialling took place. The BLRC was a breakaway federation which, since 1942, held controversial road races and wished to emulate and ultimately compete against their continental heroes of the Spring Classics and the Grand Tours.

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Inside the velodrome, right inside it

Writer and broadcaster Matt Rendell was involved in producing videos for British Cycling at the recent Track World Cup in Glasgow.

In addition to the usual rider interviews and spots covering the sporting element, a couple of shorts stood out to me- taking a look in areas most of us won’t get to see. I’m invovled in architecture, through my work, so found these alternative views of the velodrome are interesting.



I’ve had trouble embedding the youtube video- watch it here.


Link to watch this one here
See all the other videos on the British Cycling youtube channel

Velodrome progress

After reading about wood flooring being installed in the Velodrome, I have been digging around for progress updates on the project. These can be difficult to find, as generally the architects, contractors and clients on such high profile projects tend to keep things under wraps until construction is complete. For the 2012 Olympics, some companies are not even allowed to publicise their involvement with a stadium or arena until after the Games have finished.

2012 Olympics velodrome (Oct 2011)
Image by Alexander Kachkaev

After reading the sumptuous Architects’ Journal Building Study special about the 2012 velodrome by Hopkins Architects (above), I have been digging for information about Glasgow’s forthcoming track. I read a short piece in Scottish architecture magazine Urban Realm, which mainly covered the fire and thermal performance of the cladding of the building, which houses both the velodrome in its 2000 seat arena, as well as the National Indoor Sports Arena, a 5000 seat venue.
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Scottish Climbs: Cuilt Brae, Mugdock

Cuilt Brae is the B821, a 2 mile stretch of road from pictureque, well-heeled Strathblane to Carbeth, to the North of Glasgow.

It seems to have several names- coming out of Strathblane/Blanefield, it is signed for Stockiemuir. I have heard people refer to it both as ‘Cuilt Brae’ and ‘Stockiemuir’. The top is at Carbeth, where there is an Inn.

The Glasgow Nightingale and Ivy cycling clubs both use it for their club hill climb championships.

In the photo above, behind the idling riders you can see the road climbing up.

It has steep but steady gradient and a couple of nice hairpins, where the gradient rises to 15%.

click for larger map

Turning right at the top will take you towards Drymen Hill, another good climb that I will have to cover another time. Turning left takes you back along the Stockiemuir Road towards Glasgow, and taking another left after passing the Hilton Park Golf Club, you will find an unclassified road that is known as the “Khyber Pass”. Another short sharp climb beloved (or hated) amongst Glasgow cyclists that is also on my list to look at.

If you ride the Khyber Pass, you’ll pass Mugdock Park, which plays host to a Scottish Cyclocross series race. Back down into Strathblane, you have the option to go east to tackle the Crow Road or the Tak-Me-Doon. North of Glasgow certainly has a great deal of climbs to offer.

This climb on Google maps.
photos by Jamie Forbes Glasgow Ivy(Ivy gallery)
Glasgow Ivy CC website

Scottish Climbs: Muur de Partick (Gardner Street)

Quick post, while I’m working on some other significant pieces. Edinburgh may be the City of the Seven Hills, but Glasgow also has a few stings in the tail for cyclists riding around the city. The town centre, between Blythswood Square to Buchanan Street has several steep little side streets that must be a killer if you’re riding one of those pedal-taxi things.

But tucked away in Partick is Gardner Street, that looks like something out of a Steve McQueen movie.


Image by David Lindsay
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