I raced Falkirk BC’s May Day Gallop on Monday, taking full advantage of a Bank Holiday off work, but with my older kid in nursery. Balancing family and racing is not an easy thing! I’ve been training hard recently, albeit short sessions, but have noticed the difference after hanging in with the scratch group at the Stirling BC chaingang last week.
It was raced over 5 laps of a 10 mile circuit, around roads familiar to anyone who has ridden the Falkirk Thursday night wheelabout. I was in the 4th group of 6, with groups setting off at 2 minute intervals, apart from the 1st bunch and the last one (the ‘scratch’), which had a 4 minute gap to their nearest group. The groups start off fast with everyone wheeling about and taking a short spell at the front. I find this much less stressful than mass start races, where you are fighting with 80 other riders to be near the front, usually on narrow roads with a motorbike marshall’s horn in your ear!
We were being chased down by the scratch group (6th group, above) which included several local guys, former clubmates of mine who have now got rides with shop teams. Looking pretty mean here is Graham Moore and Ian King of Velocity 44 and Eddie Addis, Velo Ecosse. Also in the scratch were Martin Lonie, Dooleys, and Davie Lines, Endura/PedalPower. However they did not catch the rest, due to a lot of tired legs from last weekend’s Doon Hame stage race and several events this weekend’s too, not to mention a 4 minute gap to the 5th group.
However the rest of the groups came together and on the final lap, people were attacking off the front to try to make a break stick. It was fast on the back section from Airth to ‘The Caravans’, and I managed to go with two of the moves but they didn’t stay away. When the winning one went I was recovering, and had to sit and watch as it got a good 30 seconds up the road. I was still pretty pleased to have been there and thereabouts near the front- that was probably the most active I have been in a race so far. In the shot below, I’m just behind the guy in black on the left.
Raymond Reidy of Leslie Bike Shop won the sprint from the breakaway group. He had started in the 5th group and done his share of the work, I heard, so was a worthy winner.
The story was far from over for me though- I was feeling strong and keen to contest the bunch sprint, so coming on to the Bellsdyke Road in Larbert I latched on to what looked like an attempted lead-out by ERC riders. I was in a decent position after the rise over the M9 flyover, as it started to really wind up.
Some people fired off the front and a gap opened up a few wheels in front of me. A couple of riders darted across and into it, but somehow a rear mech found its way into my front wheel. With the pinging and rattling of broken spokes, and my bike shaking like a spacecraft breaking up on re-entry, everything seemed to go into slow motion, and I had to just focus only staying upright. I had most of the bunch behind me and did not want to bring people down- luckily I kept my calm and brought the wobbling bike to a standsill, only to be greeted by the worst leg cramp I have ever had! Could have been a lot worse than that.
So in the end, very mixed feelings – disappointed to have been unable to finish how I would have liked, but glad not to have crashed and injured myself.
Also of note – the great Jimmy Rae was in attendance. He shows support for a great many races in Scotland, and only just retired from organising them. He has some great stories from his past career, and if you haven’t seen it, check out Veloresults’ interview with him.
Photos by Ian Henderson
Thanks to Ian for permission to use these in the blog post. Ian is back after a year or so hiatus- you may well have remembered his shots on a photopic account called “PBPB”. Have a look at his new flickr account for shots of races from the past 3 or 4 years.