South Lanarkshire Series R1

Ice Ice baby!

First race of 2016 and first race of a brand new series, with the inaugural round of the South Lanarkshire CX Series from Chatelherault Park in Hamilton. After the heavy rains and generally miserable conditions over the Christmas and New Year break it was going to be interesting to see how the course would be, seeing some of the pictures from the National Championships in Shrewsbury it had the potential to be a mudfest.

Luckily (perhaps not the word I’d have used mid race) snow and freezing conditions the night before had covered the venue in snow, and hardened up the ground in places. And the help of a long gravel section over the start finish line and up the first climb meant it would be a relatively fast race.

The lap was short coming in for me at around 5mins 30 secs, starting outside the lodge before heading into the trees and a steady climb of about 250m into a short sharp drop and a steep embankment.

The embankment was too steep to ride, and although it was possible to get part way up the climb before dismounting, a slight left hander at the bottom of the climb, over slippery roots meant you had to scrub off speed rather than attacking it.

A lung busting run to the top and a short section, again through the woods, before bursting out into the open and a slightly off camber section before descending down a field and looping round over the main entrance road and back onto the start finish.

lanark_round_1

The lung busting run up the wall, that challenged everyone! © Michael Martin

A really great course which I thoroughly enjoyed. If I could make any tweaks, it would be to lengthen it slightly by adding in a few switchbacks and perhaps a set or hurdles. It sounds like from their Facebook page, round 2 at the end of the month will be on another new course, so I’m looking forward to that!

A really great course which I thoroughly enjoyed. If I could make any tweaks, it would be to lengthen it slightly by adding in a few switchbacks and perhaps a set or hurdles. It sounds like from their Facebook page, round 2 at the end of the month will be on another new course, so I’m looking forward to that!

Onto the race, and after a couple of recce laps to warm up, it was go, I was on the poorer right side of the track having to dodge a few extra ruts and puddles, the left side was much smoother, mental note for next time!  I Was sitting in around 9th or 10th place at this point as we blasted up the first hill, and up what I’ll affectionately call “The Wall” from now on.

By the top I was really gasping and the cold air had really got into my lungs. I pushed on and managed to hold my position for the rest of the lap but over the start finish I was passed by around 5 or 6 guys, as I really rasped for breath. I kept at it as much as I could, trying to find a balance between pushing hard and also trying to bring my heart rate down and get out of the red zone.

I struggled for a good couple of laps but avoided being caught, but didn’t make any inroads to the guys ahead. Looking at Strava afterwards my first 5 laps were all within 10 seconds of each other. I like that kind of consistency, but also highlights I was probably at the limit, so I’ll take that!

The second half of the race was a bit of a lonely affair, the guys that had passed me were gone, but I had a good gap on the chasing pack, so settled into a rhythm and pushed on.

Crossing the line, I think somewhere inside the top 20 (final results still to be ratified, so I’ll update as soon as I know) but pleased with that as a result after the best part of a month off the bike after catching a pretty ugly cold after the Plean race that saw me missing the Scottish nationals.

Great rides as usual from Stevie Jackson and Hans Forhaug, and Colin James from Beacon Wheelers, overhauling Dave Smeaton in the second half of the race for 3rd place, just missing out on a Glasgow United clean sweep of the podium! (Next time Dave!)

All in all, a really great start to a new Scottish series, that only reinforces how big Cyclocross in Scotland is.

Hats off to the organisers a great vibe and great location. Also a special mention for the marshals who braved the freezing conditions for a lot longer than us racers had to and never failed to cheer me on every lap, thanks guys!!

Next stop Rouken Glen on Sunday for the first round of the Superquaich Series.

Credit for the brilliant photo to Michael Martin



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