Category Archives: Amateur cycling

Amateur cycling on The Drum-Up: connecting you to Scottish cycling culture.

“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.”

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?


Headwind on the course.

A chat before the start
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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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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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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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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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Good news: the 48th David Bell RR is go

Good news – the Davie Bell is go- news recently out:

Organisers have confirmed that the 48th edition of the David Bell Memorial Race will go ahead, and what the race lacks for quantity it more than makes up in quality. The race had been in danger due to low entries but riders have responded to the rallying call and once again Girvan will play host to the famous race on August 18th.

No less than two UCI Continental teams will be represented with Ben Greenwood (Team IG SigmaSport) and Evan Oliphant (Team Raleigh) both looking for a top result. Already a two-time winner of the event, Oliphant returns in jubilant mood having just secured victory in the British Cycling Premier Calendar – an outstanding result for the Edinburgh based rider. Meanwhile Greenwood has recently inked a deal with IG Sigmasport and will be looking to impress before the Tour of Britain.

Among the other riders on start sheet is current Scottish Road Champion Gary Hand (Herbalife Leisure Lakes) and local Ayr Roads man Gary Maher. Both will be looking for a good result in front of a friendly South Ayrshire crowd.

Race promoters, Ayr Roads Cycling Club, have been committed to developing young riders with the launch of the Ayr Burners Youth club and the first ever SCCL Youth Criterium. Therefore they are delighted to have no less than ten Under 23 riders contesting the gruelling 81 mile event. The first Espoir will be presented with the Savoy Park Hotel Shield.

The action kicks off in Girvan at 11am before speeding down to Lendalfoot and the first of six categorised climbs. These will decide the winner of the DigitalMyWay King of the Mountains trophy. It is expected that the eventual winner will make their move on one of the closing laps of the Byne Circuit, before racing up South Park Avenue to be presented with the Ayrshire Alps Trophy at approximately 2:30pm.

Meanwhile the Highwayman Challenge continues to attract entries with the new 200km version proving more popular than the 100km! Audax riders must complete their ride in a minimum time to be recorded, averaging at least 15km/h. No easy feat when faced with the hill roads of the Ayrshire Alps. The 200km participants also have to navigate 16 miles of unsealed forest roads, further adding to the challenge. Both distances take place on the 17th August with riders setting off before 9am.

Both the David Bell Memorial Race and Highwayman Challenge feature as part of the Ayrshire Alps Cycle Festival, supported by South Ayrshire Council and South Carrick Community Lesiure.

Racing and riding in the Alps – of Scotland

I saw that one of the Scottish Classics – the Davie Bell Road Race – was in danger of cancellation due to a low entry list.

Entry to the race closes on 4th August and is available on British Cycling.

Everyone has their own commitments in life, work and cycling but since the Davie Bell race has always made the life of a blogger such as me easier, by providing pictures, press releases and information, I thought I ought to help out by highlighting things.

In 2011 the race included some sections of dirt road and in 2012 it was run as a National A level event, competing against teams like Rapha and Herbalife. This year it is back to National B, but maybe it’s tough reputation has put people off? Usually, an epic parcours tends to entice the riders, but perhaps it’s later slot on the calendar has clashed with people beginning to get tired after several months of competing. This is the sort of race you can be proud to finish, let alone win.

Davie Bell 2011

Entries are scheduled to close on the 4th August. The event has secured several sponsors and with cycling booming, but grass roots road racing struggling a bit, it would be a great shame to lose this event.

If you hold an Elite, 1st, 2nd or 3rd Cat Licence you can enter now at Britsh Cycling.

It is a great race with tons of history, many well-known Scottish riders have won it such as James McCallum, Evan Oliphant, Graham McGarrity, Richard Moore (now an author) and one Robert Millar.

Robert Millar Davie Bell RR