Tag Archives: amateur racing

Rothesay weekend, 15-16 September 2012

The Rothesay Weekend, also known as the Bute Cycling Festival, is a weekend of racing with a slightly more relaxed atmosphere compared to other road events. A good crowd usuallg go over from Stirling, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to take part in.

Helping to promote this year is Dave Hamill, who describes the racing as serious but also points out that people are winding down and having a beer in the evenings. He gave me some info about the event:

Brief history
The weekend of cycling events started before the second world war. It has had various organisers over the years. In its heyday in the 1950s it was a bit of a local spectacle. Check out the link below for some nice recollections from individuals who have taken part in the past.
Bute cycling festival history

Finishing sprint on Bute pre 1950s- check out the number of spectators.

It’s held under TLI so you don’t need a BC racing licence you just buy a day licence that covers you for the weekend. All events are entry on the day.

Stirling Bike Club

Saturday 15 sept
• Morning – Hill climb on The Serpentine is a pretty iconic event. The hill is as windy as it sounds.
• Afternoon – 2-up TT where you don’t need to pair up with clubmates. One lap of the island (20 miles).
Sunday 16 September
• Morning – 10mm TT on a lovely coastal route, there’s a wee lump on it but it’s not hilly.
• Afternoon (3 events)
o Novice race. One lap round the island (20 miles)
o Women’s road race – 2 laps (40 miles)
o APR road race – 2 laps (40 miles)
• Yellow jersey competition across the 3 timed events (and maybe including the road race for the ladies, we’ve yet to decide) with a £100 prize for both men and women.
• £200 first prize in the APR (expect some world class sandbagging)
• £100 first prize for women’s road race
• Team trophy being introduced
• Prizes for TLI age categories across the events.
2012 Events page on the Bute cycling festival site

Bute Cycling Festival 2011

We’re getting people coming over from England and Northern Ireland this year and expect the usual good attendance from Scottish clubs. The event usually has a decent number of women attending and we’re hoping to build upon that.

Flying Bidon

Website and promotion
We’ve moved it up a gear as far as promotion goes which is why I got involved. It’s a lovely wee event that too few people know enough about.

This year the event has a website with all the essential details as well as accommodation info, directions to Race HQ as well as courses shown on Strava, downloadable GPX files so people can ride the courses on their Tacx turbos. There are also videos from last year’s event as well as a Flickr group.

Website here
Facebook event page
Flickr Group

You can tweet @dav_hamill, he’s not the actual organiser but will be able to answer questions or direct you to someone who can.

Falkirk BC + Stirling BC

Thanks to David Swan for use of most of the pictures in this post. He will no doubt be shooting at this year’s Rothesay Weekend, and posting some of his work in the Bute Sport flickr group, which is highly recommended.

22/08/12 Dave Hamill is helping to promote but not organise

Tips for cat 4 fathers

I’ve been meaning to do this post about balancing family with training/racing but ironically I haven’t had time to write it. It’s a situation I’m sure lots of other guys are in so I thought I’d share my experiences and also those of a few people who told me how they do it.

I’d summarise the key points as: realistic (but specific) goals, smart training, a supportive partner and being the best Dad/husband you can be during the time you’re not biking.

Road racer John Gartland explained to me how he got the bug:

I started racing this year at the tender age of 39. I had taken up cycling 2 years previously with the challenge of riding the Etape Caledonia and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of the training. This led to riding in other Sportive events such as the Fred Whitton and La Marmotte in France last year. During spring of 2011 I met Paul Hornby from Glasgow Ivy who I got to know and who introduced be to chaingang riding. This seemed the perfect step from the Sportives and I spent the remainder of 2011 learning how to group ride (a broken collar bone last July was a painful lesson) and at my first race, the Billy Warnock in August, I placed 9th and was hooked!

John (in black and white) at the sharp end of the Gifford B race in March

For me, ironically, I only started riding seriously the year my first child was born so it was not an ideal start. Previously to that I enjoyed nights out too much, and could never get myself out of bed in time for bike riding. Following a similar path to John, I enjoyed the challenge of sportives, and progressed my fitness with my club, before taking it up a level with chaingangs. My progress has been more gradual though, with my first races in 2009, and having been dropped from the bunch on many occasions I finally placed in a race- 10th in the Lothian Flyer 2012.
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Eileen Roe wins in Colchester for Team Ibis

Well done Eileen Roe who won the women’s crit at the Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix Series event in Colchester- the women’s circuit races organised by the Tour Series.

She has come back from injury, a broken arm if I remember right. I saw her at a handicap race in Falkirk, with a cast on. She had pedalled over from Fife in pretty rank weather with her Dad on a tandem, just to get some miles in, and support the Leslie Bikes team.

May Day Gallop 7/5/12 - Falkirk BC

I said to her that I would give her team a mention on the blog and it has taken me a while to get round to it. She rides for Team Ibis, a Scottish-Dutch women’s outfit. The team is backed by Scottish Cycling and provides a proper racing environment for some of our best women riders, with many races in Belgium and Holland.

Jane Barr, 2010 and 2011 Scottish road race champion also rides for the team as does Anne Ewing.

Full report on Scottish Cycling.

Team Ibis website
Ibis Cycles
Team Ibis tweets
Toon van der Putten – team manager

Dirt roads and climbing: from Aberdeen to Ayr


Kindly uploaded by David Martin, a fairly regular contributor to this blog, comes this photo from the 1971 Scottish Tour of the Grampians Milk Race. Note the dirt road – if anyone knows where this road is, please post in the comments. A web search for this event revealed that there a race manuals was for sale on eBay pretty cheap- so for the history buffs the info is still available if you can find it.

David referred to this as a Milk Race but on Braveheart forum Steven McGinty recalled that it was sponsored by Sunblest and christened “The Piece Race”. Again the race manual would clear this up but if you remember more info, please post up a comment.

Rider 27, who is receiving service in the right of shot, is Phil Templeton of Dundee Thistle RC. Incidentally, I was looking at another of David’s photos from the 2011 Snow Roads Auduax today, which also features Phil Templeton. He is seen below piloting a tandem on the Cairn O’Mount, with legendary long distance rider George Berwick.


In the above shot, Phil and George are riding the Snow Roads Audax is a 300km/186 mile ride also held in the Grampians, taking place this weekend. With 4800m/15,750ft of climbing, taking in the Cairn o’Mount, the Cabrach, the Lecht, and Cairnwell, it is probably one of the toughest rides in the UK. And the best value, with the cost to enter a mere £8.00. Bring your own food though!

interactive map with climbs

Rider 19 in the top photo, receiving wheel service on the left is I Thompson of ‘Glasgow B’. David informed me that there were centre teams, and National Teams as well, in this race.

Another race taking in dirt roads is the South Carrick Davie Bell. Traditionally one of the toughest one-day road races in Scotland, last year Ayr Roads brought in sections of dirt road to honour the pioneering highwayman that the event is named after.

The event has stepped up to National A status this year, with a high quality start sheet littered with pros and elite riders who will do battle on 10th June. Unfortunately the dirt sections will not feature in 2012 due to road repairs but we are sure they will be back, and in future the event is seeking to achieve Premier Calendar status. 2012 features 100 miles of racing, nearly 7,000ft/2369m of climbing, several passes through Girvan and the Nic o’ the Balloch climb.

photo by David Blockley
2011 winner James McCallum, Rapha Condor Sharp, left
photo by David Blockley

More great dirt road photos
more info about the 47th South Carrick David Bell

Scottish Climbs: Cadger’s Brae

I have not ridden Cadger’s Brae, which is situated in between Kennoway and Freuchie in Fife, and part of the Dave Campbell Memorial Road Race, but with that name I imagine it as a long drag that you can ‘cadge’ a tow up. This couldn’t be further from the truth- it is a steep nasty climb that can be the decisive point in the race or hurt the legs of any cyclist out for a training or leisure ride.

My misguided assumption led me to wonder why it is called Cadger’s Brae and a couple of people offered suggestions. Derek Hoy said “cadger was old Scots for a caddie or carrier”, while Dave Mackay checked the dictionary definition: “15th century origin unknown. Originally in the sense ‘itinerant peddler’, modern meaning evolved via ‘beggar, opportunist’.”

David Campbell Mem. RR 6/5/12 - Kennoway

A search online has led me to a Cadgers Brigs in Linlithgow and Biggar, a Cadger’s road in Forfar, a Cadgers Gate in the hills near Dollar and a cadgers ford in Aberdeenshire.
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Juniors Kyle Petrie and Callum Foster make things happen

After first-year junior Tom Arnstein‘s win at the Gifford A-Race I noticed a couple of strong performances in the Fenwick APR. Not a win but good rides from a couple of young guys that I thought I would give some recognition.

As a 34-year-old ‘trier’ I always tell myself ‘next year will be better’. ‘I’ll get a good winter in, improve my bike, lose another kilo and get a bit faster’. But family life just isn’t conducive to consistent training and the other problem is that every year, a crop of strong juniors come along and overtake you pretty rapidly (metaphorically as well as on the road).

The youngsters don’t just have youth and good health on their side- they can race cleverly and use their heads as Tom showed at Gifford.

What impressed me from the brief report from the Fenwick APR by Stirling BC rider Kyle Petrie was that he had made a plan before the race, and worked with another rider, Calum Foster of Team Leslie Bike Shop, to force a split. It’s not about turning up and see what will happen.

It was a really hard race, more lumpy than I’d prefer but I surprised myself a bit. I felt relaxed to begin with and just tried to stay at the front and away from trouble (and punctures) and I was feeling quite good.

Loudoun RC Fenwick APR 24/3/2012
Kyle Petrie comfortable in his group before the move went
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David Bell Memorial seeks Premier Calendar Status

I recently covered the idea that Scotland could maybe host the UCI Road World Championships, and indulged in a bit of speculation as to where the course might be.

Part of this conjecture was the experience the south west of Scotland has in hosting high profile events- the Tour of Britain has passed through there on a few occasions and the Premier Calendar Tour Doon Hame 3-day race is now well established. This is all based upon a solid grass roots crit races, local road races and mountain biking trails.

Now, one of Scotland’s top amateur events, possibly the toughest one-day race we have outside the national championship, is hoping to step up a level and gain Premier Calendar status. Last year the Davie Bell Memorial made some radical changes to the course, bringing in sections of dirt road, which was a fitting way to honour the pioneering off-road cyclist that the race is named after.

Today it was announced that the promoting club, Ayr Roads – Harry Fairbairn BMW, have already secured ‘National A’ status for the 47th running of the 100mile event, which will be held on Sunday June 10th 2012:

Rapha-Condor-Sharp rider James McCallum has pledged his intention to defend his title at the South Carrick David Bell Memorial, a ‘monument’ of Scottish cycling aspiring to join the Premier Calendar series in 2013. National A status will guarantee the best possible line up of British professional and elite cyclists.

Thanks to backing from South Ayrshire Council and support from South Carrick Community Leisure, McCallum and his Rapha-Condor-Sharp team will be hoping to take home their share of the guaranteed minimum £2,000 prize fund. However, competition will be tough with teams such as Endura Racing, Herbalife-Leisure Lakes and Vanilla Racing already signed up to compete.

The race is rightly feared by the Scottish cycling community, with its tough ascents of the area popularly referred to as the ‘Ayrshire Alps’, and also for its whose-who list of former winners including Robert Millar, the late Jason MacIntyre and current Scottish Road Champion Evan Oliphant. With such a rich history, organisers are already building towards the 50th edition to ensure a spectacular celebration of Ayrshire cycling, and the life of the pioneering off-road cyclist that the event is named after. More commonly known under his penname ‘The Highwayman’, David Bell was a local journalist who brought his explorations by bike between the 1930s and mid 1960s alive through a hugely popular column in the Ayrshire Post.

The Carrick Forest Drive during the 2011 David Bell Memorial – A breakaway establishes a 40second lead on lap 1.
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Scottish racing moments of 2011

‘Tis the season for ‘Top 10’ style lists, so here’s a brief rundown of some of my highlights of 2011 where Scottish racing is concerned. I certainly haven’t watched everything closely- these are just the things that stand out, off the top of my head. Please contribute your own ideas in the comments.

in no particular order

Arthur Doyle’s 19:45
Arthur is pretty much the best time triallist around, particularly in 10s and 25s and this blistering time at Westferry at the end of August was brilliant. Check out this discussion on Braveheart which looks at other 19 minute rides.

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Neil Taylor wins Stirling Bike Club’s Battle of the Braes Road Race

I had a spring in my step as I left my wife at home with two grizzling children (thanks Mrs P- again) to cover my club’s Battle of the Braes Road Race. Cruising along the A811, ‘Kippen Flats’ TT course, behind a tractor to the sounds of De La Soul’s Stakes is High was a relaxed way to start.

The race, which started in Callander and was run over a 57 mile course, took in four ascents of the “Braes of Greenock” climb. In this, the race’s 2nd year, the course had been altered to finish at the top of the Braes of Greenock, rather than on the “Mini Braes” near Thornhill, meaning only the strongest would be victorious. Open to 2nd, 3rd and 4th category riders, and with a generous prize fund supported by Stirling Bike Club, it was sure to be a keenly contested.

A heavyweight course: not to be messed with!
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Stirling Bike Club Battle of the Braes

Stirling Bike Club’s new race enters its second year with the Battle of the Braes coming up on Saturday 20th August.

It’s a hilly road race through some classic Scottish cycling country, up the ‘Braes of Greenock’ climb that was once part of the Tour de Trossachs TT. This year the finish will be tougher, and more suited to the best climbers, as the line will come near the top of the Braes climb rather than on the ‘mini Braes’ near Thornhill, as it was last year.

As a Regional A race open to 2nd 3rd and 4th cat riders it gives an opportunity to the middle of the pecking order to score some points.

Organiser Eddie Cowle is still looking for a few helpers on the day, and there will still be a few race entries available I believe- entry by post- although a full field is expected.

Download a PDF of this poster