Friday, 26 July 2013

British Championships at Cathkin - A Scottish Perspective

The British Championships is the one day of the year in the cycling calendar that every racer looks towards. It's the one event that they will always target, that everyone would love the honour of wearing that red, white and blue hooped jersey. Even for non-podium hopefuls hopes are high and the pressure is on. For all us Scots, these expectations multiplied ten-fold as the Championships had once again returned north of the border. On Saturday the 20th and Sunday the 21st July, the top cross-country mountain bikers in Britain headed to Cathkin Braes, the 2014 Commonwealth Games course to battle it out over multiple laps in scorching conditions. Swathes of Scottish riders took part, showing strength and depth in every field and fully taking advantage of the home crowds, with many spectators creating a world-class atmosphere. The course was deceptively tough, with an apparent lack of 'techinical' features or big climbs, however come race day, Cathkin was a true leg and lung tester, and praised for having a little bit of everything that made for exciting racing. To name absolutely every Scottish rider who took part here would create a report which would be pages and pages long - podium'ers will be mentioned here - follow the link to the full results to check out how everyone else got on too.

The first set of Championship races came on the Saturday when the Under-12's took to a shortened version of the main course - it was still a very long loop! First Champion was young Eilidh Gronkowski, aged only 3years old who took the win in the Under 8's category. Eilidh was soon followed in by older brother Gavin, also riding for Mukyriderz, who equalled her result in the Under 8 boys field. Next up were the Under 10s where Iona Aldridge took the win for Streathdearn MBC in the girls class. In the boys, Finton Price and Gregor Robb took 2nd and 3rd place, respectively, giving their all on a tough course in the midday sunshine. In the Under 12 girls race, it was total Scottish domination on the podium with Anna Flynn from Edinburgh road club taking the top spot ahead of Niamh Doherty and Anna Shackley, both from Glasgow Riderz. Jamie Johnston from Thomsons Cycles continued his winning form by winning the Under 12 boys race, followed in by Charlie Aldridge. These young ones were all so inspiring to watch the joy they took, not only from winning, but from being out on their bikes and taking part in such a big event.

It was an early start for the Juvenile and Youth riders who were off on the 9.30am gun. Large crowds of parents gathered around the start finish area to cheer on the riders and provide encouragement. A fantastic race, moving consistently clear to build a very comfortable advantage, brought Erika Allen (Thomsons Cycles) home to take a well-deserved victory in the Youth category. For a long time after the finish Erika could be seen with an expression of total shock and tears of joy in her eyes, a Champions jersey means so much to these young racers. The Youth boys category was not so clean-cut however with an epic battle between early leader, Harry Johnston (Thomsons Cycles) and Calum MaGowan (Peebles CC). These two boys battled back and forth over three laps, barely separated by more than a tyre length. On the finish straight Calum broke clear to take the win by only 4seconds to claim the champions jersey. A fantastic morning of racing and a great start for Scottish riders with our two Champions being backed up by many other strong performances throughout the youth and juvenile fields.

Next off were those at the other end of the age spectrum. The male categories for Master and older headed out on course just as the sun was breaking through the early morning grey sky. Again, there were large numbers of Scottish riders in these categories with fantastic performances from all these racers. In the Veteran 45 category, Team Leslie Bikeshop showed their strength with 2nd place going to Damien Slorach and John McCaffery taking 3rd. Gregor Grant (Moray Firth CC), a previous British Champion, replicated the feat and will be wearing the Grand Veteran Champions jersey for this coming year. There was yet another Scottish Champion in the Super Veteran category with John Shirley (West Highland Wheelers) coming in less than 20 seconds ahead of the next finisher in a hard fought race.

At the back of midday, it was time for the Womens 17+ categories to set off, with many different fields taking to the course in the hot sun. And, yet again, Scotland brought back another British Champion with world-class racer Lee Craigie (Cannondale) putting in an excellent performance to take the victory in the Senior category. In an strong field, it was an excellent result for Lee who will have the honour of wearing the British Champions jersey at all XC events she takes part in for the next year. With all her family and friends watching and cheering her on, it was a fitting result for this girl from Glasgow who is building her performances to qualify for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. After that, there were three excellent 2nd places for Scottish riders in tough categories. Firstly, Isla Short (WXC) had a great race in the junior category to finish 2nd with an extremely comfortable margin over 3rd place. Gillian Pratt (Team Leslie Bikeshop) led for the majority of her 4 lap race but was just pipped at the post by less than a minute to take a well-deserved 2nd, ahead of fellow Scot, Katie Carmichael (Hervelo). Finally, the ever-smiling Anne Murray (Team Jewson/Thule/Kinesis/CNP/MI Racing-Ride - longest team name ever?!) came in 2nd Veteran female with another strong result following a great season so far. 

Last up were the Male 17+ categories of the Seniors, Under 23s and Juniors. In the Senior field, young Grant Ferguson (Superior Brentjens), took the victory in a race filled with Olympians, and men with many more years and experience than him. As part of a season involving much international travel, the home crowd including family and friends supported Grant all the way to the finish, and just as impressively, he was the only rider to do a sub-14minute lap of the course. Grant rode a cool and consistent race to finish almost half a minute ahead of nearest rival Oli Beckingsdale in what was a good tester for next year's Commonwealth Games. In the junior category, which is filled with promising young riders, there were Scots in 2nd and 3rd place with fantastic finishes from Iain Paton (Ben Wyvis CC) and Stuart Wilcox (Team Scott UK).

Overall, it was a fantastic showing by all the Scottish riders who took on - or as it turned out, were - the best cross country mountain bikers in Britain. Well done to everyone who took to the Cathkin course over the weekend, regardless if you were on the podium or in last place, just taking part in such a big event on home soil is an experience to cherish. 

We'll see you all again on the 1st of September at Kirroughtree for the Scottish Championships - keep those fast legs 'till then!

Follow this link to the British Cycling website to see the full results;

And scroll down for the podium shots....

The young Gronkowski's celebrate
Eilidh - Under 8 Champion
Gavin - Under 8 boys Champion

Iona on the top spot in the Under 10s

Scottish girls lock out the Under 12 podium - Anna, Niamh and Anna 
Finton (2nd) and Gregor (3rd) in the Under 10s
Jamie celebrates victory in the under 12s ahead of Charlie

Erika on the top spot - Champion!!

Calum in 1st just ahead of Harry

The Scottish riders who came out on top in the Youth races with those special stripy jerseys
Erika - the joy of winning

Junior boys with Iain and Stuart on the podium

Gillian in 2nd and Katie in 3rd 
Junior girls featuring Isla
Anne in 2nd in the Vet women

Lee celebrates the Senior women's win
Grant on the top spot in the Senior race

Champagne victory for Grant

Your Champions in the Senior categories - and both Scottish! Well done Grant & 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Getting Organised for 2014

The SXC committee and Scottish Cycling are committed to continue the success of the 2013 series into 2014 and create a great series to develop our riders.

The series has a 7% growth on last year and feedback hasindicated that riders are enjoying the courses however we can always look to improve.

Following on from our successful ‘Looking Forward to 2014’ meeting we would like to take this opportunity to outline the ideas put forward at that meeting, from facebook and individual emails to create a ‘wishlist’ for the 2014 series.

We would then like clubs to give their ideas into how they can deliver their round to fit, as best as possible, to our ideas.

We also have a list of dates which we would like clubs to give an indication into what would suit them best.

For more information download the 'SXC Getting Organised for 2014' full document, following the 'Looking Forward to 2014' link from the SXC website downloads section 

Please share this information with your club-mates and anyone who you think may be interested. We look forward to working with you to bring you the best series yet in 2014!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

British Champs Rider Bio - Morven Brown

Well, here's one for myself! I'm seriously looking forward to the Champs, especially as they're in Glasgow. This season has been a bit of a slow developer on the British level for me, so hopefully the results will keep going upwards at the Champs this weekend. I set off with the Senior women, in my first year in this category, at 12.30pm on the Sunday, so if you see me, give me a wee shout on or say hi.

Thank you in advance of all your support of all the riders at this event. Good luck to absolutely everyone who is racing, Scottish or not, the crowds will get behind you all! And hope that all the spectators enjoy the weekend of bike racing and sunshine.

Name : Morven Brown

Race category : Senior Women

Club/Team : Dales Cycles

Bike : Specialized Fate 29'er

Aim for the Cathkin National Champs : To do my absolute best, and hopefully get top-15

Best result of 2013 so far : 12th place at the British Series race at Margam Park

Where/when was your first ever race : Alvie Forest at Aviemore in 2003

Favourite Scottish MTB trail : Old-skool Learnie, Golspie or Innerleithen.

Best things about being a MTB'er : Being able to eat all the food I want after training!! I really enjoy the social side to riding and racing too, getting to see my friends at races is good.

Little known fact about yourself : I can solve a Rubik's cube in under 3 minutes!

British Champs Rider Bio - Dave Henderson

Dave is one half of the due of Scots, who along with others, ride for the extremely distinctive GT Muc-Off Racing. You will most definitely recognise his kit when you see it - it's the black and bright yellow and pink one! Dave is a great racer, and despite a tough season this year, he's been travelling over to Europe to compete against the world's best. Here's hoping that he can pick up a great, well-deserved, high placing this weekend on the cracking Cathkin course. He'll set off on the first gun at 3pm on Sunday.

Good luck Dave!!

Name: Dave Henderson

Race category: Elite

Club/team: GT Muc-Off Racing

Aim for Cathkin National Champs: To be happy with my ride 

Best result of 2013 so far: This has not been the best season for me so far. I hoping to turn it around this weekend

Favourite Scottish MTB trail: Tweed Valley, Kirroughtree, Badaguish - so many to choose from! 

Best thing about being a MTBer: Having fun. Also, the places you go and people you meet 

Where and when did you start racing: first race was SXC series at Laggan in 2007 

British Champs Rider Bio - Stuart Wilcox

Meet Stuart Wilcox, yet another one of this batch of extremely fast Juniors that we've got here at the SXC. He's a friendly guy, who is always up for racing well and having some fun on his bike. He's been having a good, steady season this year in a very strong British field. Make sure you give him all the support you can, he is the one in theWhite, black and yellow of Team Scott - just look out for the blonde hair under the helmet to tell his apart from his teammate Nick Craig!. He'll be setting off at 3pm on the Sunday at Cathkin, giving him the chance to test his skills against the senior riders too.

Good luck Stuart!!

Name: Stuart Wilcox
Race category: Junior
Club/Team: Scott UK
Bike: Scott Scale 900 RC
Aim for the Cathkin National Champs: A place on the podium would be nice!
Best result of 2013 so far: British XC Sherwood Pines - 6th
Where/when was your first ever race: Glentress, back in 2007
Favourite Scottish MTB trail: Hard to choose, but the xc loop at Innerleithen never fails to put a smile on my face.
Best things about being a MTB'er: Being able to see amazing places from a different perspective, and realising that with the right company, bikes can be pretty fun!

Little known fact about yourself: I chose to study English at university... A choice that not many seem to empathise with!

British Champs Rider Bio - Tony Jones

Here's we've got Tony, another one of the guys from the Leslie Bikeshop - there are just so many of them! Tony competes in the Veteran category - don't let the name fool you, these are some of the most competitive racers of the day and are extremely fast! For a first timer at the British level events the Champs will be a great experience for Tony and make sure that you're part of that! Get along and cheer him on and support him - he's another one in the red, black and white of Leslie Bikeshop. He's going to do his team and the SXC proud and give it his all, and probably spend the rest of the day with a smile on his face - he's a really friendly guy at races. Give him a good cheer as he goes past!


Name: Tony Jones

Club/Team: Team Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique

Race Category: Veteran (auld whippits)

Bike: Specialized Stumpjumper Carbon 29er HT

Aim for the Cathkin National Champs: This is my 1st British Series Race race, low teen finish would be good!

Best result of 2013 so far: 12th at Forfar, 9th overall this SXC series.

Where/when was your first ever race: I took the plunge and did the Selkirk Mtb Marathon in 2009, hooked from then!

Favourite Scottish MTB trail: The Lomond Hills, my back garden and playground.

Best things about being a MTB'er: The crack! Just great being out with my mates on the trails, being in the Team.

Little known fact about yourself: Im actually only 21 lol.....well in my head.

Friday, 19 July 2013

British Champs Rider Bio - Tom Evans

Tom is a first year Under-23 rider having just made the big jump up from the Junior category. It's a tough category to find your feet in and Tom is certainly showing the guts and determination required to succeed in this tough field. He's racing in the Elite category in Scotland and Britain, tho will be taking on fellow young'uns at the British Championships when he sets off at 3pm on Sunday afternoon.

Good luck Tom - Smash it!!

Name: Tom Evans

Race category: Under 23 Male

Club/Team: Ben Wyvis Cycle Club/Dryburgh Cycles

Bike: Cannondale F29

Aim for the Cathkin National Champs: 1st place

Best result of 2013 so far:Not been a great year, 21st in British round 3

Where/when was your first ever race: Laggan near Aviemore in an SXC

Favourite Scottish MTB trail: Big old hike up Torridon!

Best things about being a MTB'er: Definitely Strava hunting

Little known fact about yourself: Im trying to be dairy free for no known reason

British Champs Rider Bio - The Gronkowski Family

 The winning habit is like Father, like Son in the Gronkowski family. Dad Ewan is passing on the nifty bike handling skills and speed to his son Gavin, with young daughter Eilidh taking part in the races too! This will be wee Gavin's first time competing on the British stage and we here all know that he will definitely be a shining star of the Under 8 category. Make sure you get in there early and get this kids autograph, he's gonna be a cycling superstar! Ewan is picking up some excellent results at the SXC series this year riding in the extremely distinctive bright orange and blue of the Mukyriderz - another one of the big Fife teams. Make sure you look out for them both and support them well in their races.

Good luck boys!!

Little lad Gavin...

Name: Gavin Gronkowski

Race category: Under 8

Club/Team: Mukyriderz

Bike: Islabike Beinn 24

Aim for the Cathkin National Champs: To get a medal!

Best result of 2013 so far: Winning at Abrichan and Drumlanrig

Where/when was your first ever race: 2011 SXC Kirroughtree

Favourite Scottish MTB trail: The Meedies at Loch Ore

Best things about being a MTB'er: Its great fun

Little known fact about yourself: Did my first cycle tour to Holland when I was 5 years old.

Dad Ewan...

Name: Ewan Gronkowski

Race category: Master
Club/Team: Mukyriderz
Bike: On One 29er Race
Aim for the Cathkin National Champs: Podium
Best result of 2013 so far: 1st at Abriachan
Where/when was your first ever race: 2009 SXC at Badaguish
Favourite Scottish MTB trail:
Best things about being a MTB'er: Getting out and seeing new places all the time.
Little known fact about yourself: Moving to Belgium next year, looking forward to seeing if they really are any good at 

British Champs Rider Bio - Ellie Park

We've a different sort of rider profile here.. At the start of the week we had it all set to be your standard rider bio, same as all the others. Then there was a high speed track race. A crash in front with no where to go but over the top. A clever tuck and roll saved the collar bone, but unfortunately her arm wasn't quite so lucky. 

So, here's a spectator profile of young Ellie Park, who will be cheering all her friends, and anyone else on the course for that matter!, with all the enthusiasm that she would put into her own racing.

Name: Ellie Park

Nickname: The one armed cheering bandit (for the next few weeks at least!)

Race Category: Juvenille

Club/Team: Glasgow Riderz

First race: Forfar SXC this year

Best result of 2013: 1st place at the SXC race at Cathkin Braes in only her 3rd ever MTB race

Favourite course: Usually road or track is where you'll find Ellie, tho she lives local to the Cathkin Braes course so had no doubt been sneaky training!

She'll be there cheering for you all over the weekend, so make sure you get along and join her in supporting the racers. And if you see Ellie (you'll recognise the one with her arm in a sling!) make sure you tell her to get well soon!

GET WELL SOON ELLIE from all here at SXC!

Top spot at Cathkin SXC

Thursday, 18 July 2013

British Champs Rider Bio - The Superior-Brentjens Boys

They're the the Scottish duo who ride for the Superior Brentjens team and are supported by British Cycling. Many years ago they both started out at the SXC races as a wee lads slogging it out around the Sprogs race. A decade later and they are two of top male mountain bikers in Britain who regularly put on a fantastic show with consistently high results in the World Cup races. We here in Scotland are already so proud of them both and all their achievements, however we can't wait to see them racing in the Elite men's category, where the biggest names in British mountain biking will all be racing their hardest to get their hands on the Champions jersey. Both boys will be in the white, red and black kit of the team, make sure and cheer them on. They take part in the last race of the day which will kick off at 3pm at Cathkin Braes and will also complete the most laps of any race category over the whole weekend. 

Go on boys!! Good luck!

Name: Grant Ferguson 

Race category: Elite men 

Club/Team: Superior-Brentjens Racing Team

Bike: Superior 29er hard tail 

Aim for the National Champs: Perform my best 

Best result of 2013 so far: 1st place NPS round 2/3 Elite Men

First race (where/when): Not sure but I think it was a sprogs race at sidlaws or avimore in 2003?

Favourite Scottish MTB trail: I cant decide... my home trails at Glentess or Innerleithen are probably very high up the list.

Best things about being a MTB'er: Bring able to head out and get lost riding some great trails.

Little known fact about yourself: Nickname is the frog due to being tall and skinny with big feet.

Name : Kenta Gallagher

Race Category : Elite

Club/Team : Superior Brentjens MTB Team

Bike : 29er Prototype

Aim for the Cathkin National Champs : Have fun and do some jumpies!

Best result of 2013 so far : Win at the XCE World Cup in the Czech Republic

Favourite Scottish MTB trail : Laggan or local Inverness trails

Best things about being a MTB'er : Riding around the world on sweet trails in the middle of nowhere

Little known fact about yourself : I'm half Japanese and I don't like sea food. My mummy is not impressed at that fact!
Grant on the top spot of the Elite podium at the second round of the British XC Series in Cornwall,  closely followed by Kenta

British Champs Rider Bio - Ella Conolly

Ella is another member of our Northern contingent, part of Ben Wyvis CC, and like the rest of the northerners, often with many miles to travel simply to get to races. Ella doesn't let this stand in her way and is a cracking wee racer in the Youth category. She'll be riding at 9.30am at Cathkin on Sunday wearing the black kit of Ben Wyvis CC. Give her a massive cheer as she goes past and show her how we support our riders up her in Scotland!


Name: Ella Conolly

Race category: Youth

Club: Ben Wyvis cycling club

Bike: Boardman team

Aim: top 5 and no pinch flats! 

Best result of 2013: 2nd at Abriachan SXC 

Favourite Scottish mtb trail: Balblair 

Where/when you started racing: 2011 SXC Comrie Croft

Little know fact about yourself: I'm very competitive 

Best thing about being a MTB'er: going downhill...FAST!

British Champs Rider Bio - Iain Paton

Iain is one of our rising stars who started out in the Youth category a while ago and has climbed through the ranks ever since. He's ridden with Team GB and has made an impact on an international level with some fantastic results at the Junior World Cups. He's also one of our best-travelled racers, coming all the way down from Golspie to the SXC and British Series events. Hard work and dedication is paying off for Iain and we, like him hope to see him finish the year in those blue, red and white hoops.


Name: Iain Paton

Race category: Junior

Club/Team: Ben Wyvis CC/Dryburgh Cycles

Bike: Forme Winscar 29c

Aim for the Cathkin National Champs: Top step of the podium with a stripey Jersey!

Best result of 2013 so far: 20th place at the UCI world cup in Val di Sole, Italy. Also 1st at rounds 3 and 4 of the British Series.

Where/when was your first ever race: first "proper" race was the SXC at Learnie in 2009. Been hooked on it ever since.

Favourite Scottish MTB trail: I might be a bit bias but I am yet to find a trail that beats the Golspie Wildcat trails (which are luckily right on my doorstep) 

Best things about being a MTB'er: Spending loads of time outside and up big hills, plus you have an excuse to eat loads when you get back!

Little known fact about yourself: Although I haven't for a while, I can play the bagpipes!