Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Gordon Bathgate - Abriachan Interview

Race organiser extraordinaire!!

There's not much more to say other than THANK YOU Gordy, we appreciate all your hard work and effort - even if it may have hindered your race performance!

It was a fantastic event which we really enjoyed on a great course, with excellent organisation.

Once again, thank you for your race organising effort, and for taking the time to speak to us at the end of the day. 

Good luck for the rest of the season!

"As the organiser today, and also having raced, I am now extremely tired but overall quite pleased with how it all went.

The overwhelming opinion was that the course was really good and people really enjoyed it. There was little we could do about the weather, it’s April in the Highlands of Scotland, until last week there was snow on the course. Fortunately, by this week it had all thawed out, and we had made a course that stood up well to the challenge of the conditions.

We knew that the logistics would be an issue. Mountain biking, by the very nature of the sport calls for trails which can be located deep into the countryside on a hillside, accessible by a track and not always designed for hundreds of cars to park. With the parking and access to the finish area, it was maybe not ideal. We do, however, have some different ideas for the future, which with time constraints would have compromised the course for this year. I don’t think it stood in the way of the overall enjoyment of the day though.

We were really pleased with the logistics of creating the course, with thanks to Sam at the Abriachan Trust, the set-up, organisation and the way the race day went. The local volunteers from the Abriachan area were not linked to mountain biking and it was great to involve the local people. The first aid was also good.

The kid’s race went really well, with unprecedented numbers of kids turning up to race. It’s great to see so many young kids getting out on their bikes and getting into the spirit of racing.

We were even lucky enough to get some sunshine on race day, which always boosts the mood of racers and spectators!

As for my own racing, I’ve spent too much time in wellies and not enough time on the bike over the past few weeks! If the race had been two weeks ago I think I would have done better. Despite that, I still managed to get 7th in the Veterans category. The first few laps went well but by the third lap I felt like I was going backwards. It felt like a different course to the one I knew and had set out! I think there were things appearing out of the frozen ground, which had not been seen for several millennia.

I’m really looking forward to the SXC race at Cathkin next month. My one and only SXC victory came at Cathkin. I do hear, though, that it has changed beyond recognition and that my favourite chocolate chute has now become a man-made climb!"

Rob Friel - Abriachan Interview

Rob is one of Scotland's top Elite mountain bikers, he's made it two wins from two in this years SXC series so far. He also won the 2012 Scottish Cyclo-Cross series proving him to be a complete all-round cyclist.

After winning Round 2 of the 2013 SXC series at Abriachan, we interviewed Rob to find out how the race went and his plans for the 2013 season.

Thank you for speaking to us Rob, well done for the race and here's to your continued success in racing!
Rob on the top step of the podium. He is joined on the podium by Dougie Shearer and James Fraser Moodie

Tell us about the race today?
I won the Elite race today following a hard race. I had really good battle with Tom Evans on the first three laps, I just couldn’t seem to shake him off! Unfortunately, he punctured, and I rode the rest of the race in a steady rhythm enjoying the race and making sure that I didn’t puncture too.
It was a really good course to race on today, I really enjoy courses like that. I’m good at riding in the wind to I went hard off the start to make sure I got a gap from the field knowing that they would suffer in the wind. I’m good at riding in the mud too, so Tom and myself were able to ride away from the field on the technical section too.

How is 2013 shaping up for you?
My next race will be the No Fuss Dunkeld Enduro race, I’m not going to the British XC race at Cornwall, it’s just too far away.
My target for 2013 is the National Championships at Cathkin Braes. I’m Glasgow based so have been around the course a few times already with Rab Wardell. I love the course, it’s so different to what we were racing on today, but I think it will make for a closer race. Sometimes in Scotland, we struggle for depth of field in races, and especially on a course like Abriachan the field are easily split. However, at Cathkin there will be a good, tight race with riders battling for positions. I enjoy getting out training with Rab, it’s good to train with someone who you know their strengths and they know yours. I can beat him on the chaingang but he beats me up the climbs! The competition when you are out training together really helps with your progression.

With those aims you must do a fair bit of training?
As yet, I don’t have a structured training plan. I’m on holiday next week, and once I get back I’ll have more of a training plan. I’ve been doing a bit of work on the velodrome and have also been getting out Ski Touring. I really enjoy different cycling disciplines, like the velodrome, and I’m also really looking forward to the start of the cyclocross season. I’ll be riding the full SXC series as well.

You seem to have a really good bike, what is it like?
I ride for Santa Cruz, which is fantastic. I have the best bike possible which is a Santa Cruz Highball C, with Envy wheels. It’s a great bike and I am so delighted to be riding for them this year and to have the opportunity to ride on this amazing bike. 

Iain Paton & Stuart Wilcox- Abriachan Interview

After their race on Sunday afternoon at Abriachan, I managed to get a word with two of our promising Junior riders, Iain Paton and Stuart Wilcox. They'd just spent an hour being best of enemies on the race track, but were inseparable after the finish line. 

These two young lads are great hoped for the future of Scottish mountain biking, and are exciting to watch out on the course, making it all look far too easy!

Both boys are in their first year at university, however, as yet seem to be resisting too much wild partying to focus on training. Long may that continue!

Thank you for your time boys, it was great to chat and find out about your racing. All the best to both of you for the rest of the season and your continued success in cycling.

How did you get on in the race today and what did you think of the course?
I was 1st junior in the race today, I’m really happy with that. It was a really good day on, and especially as it was on a fairly local course. It was a really good course, a lot like what I remember the SXC courses to be like from when I started racing. There was really good, muddy, technical terrain. As juniors we were only doing three laps, whereas the Elite’s were doing five, maybe they had it a bit harder but ours was definitely more intense!

How is your training going in 2013?
Yeah, it’s going really good. I’m just back from a training camp in Manchester with ODP (Olympic Development Programme – a highly commendable feat to achieve selection for this programme). It’s really hard work to be part of the ODP, but that’s what you’d expect from a programme that is deigned to push you to your limits and to develop you to your full potential as a cyclist. The last few weeks my training has been a bit on and off, but with the camp last week it has increased. On the camp we were doing three training sessions a day – once on the turbo, a road ride, and a mountain bike ride.
It’s quite difficult to balance studying at university with my training, as both require a lot of time and dedication. It really makes me appreciate how easy it was before when I was at school.

What are your aims for 2013?
I am to get onto the podium at the British National series races. This will hopefully lead to me gaining selection for the Junior World Cups, and ultimately the Junior World Championships. I raced the 2012 Junior World Championships and it was a great experience. I was gridded 104th(!) which made it quite challenging, but it was a really good learning experience as a junior.

Who do you ride for and what bike do you race?
I’m currently riding for the local club here, Ben Wyvis CC. They’re a really great club, and are well supported by Dryburgh Bicycles in Dingwall. I ride a new Forme bike, it’s a 29’er and was perfectly suited to that type of course!


How did you enjoy today? How did you get on in the race?
I got 2nd placed junior today, only 30seconds behind Iain. It was a very good race on an “old skool” SXC course with a great mix of natural, technical sections and man–made climbs. It was the kind of course that I really enjoy racing my bike on. 

How’s the 2013 race season going for you and what do you hope to achieve this year?
I’ve been progressing well since the start of the year and I’m looking forward to getting even closer to Iain at the next race down at Cornwall. My biggest goal for 2013 is the British Championships, as they are at Cathkin Braes in Glasgow. I stay in Glasgow for university so it’s become my local course so I have no excuse not to know it like the back of my hand. It’s a really great course up there, I’m so impressed with what they have done with it. I’d also hope to gain selection for the Junior World Cups and, hopefully, the Junior World Championships.
It’s quite difficult to balance the demands of training, racing and Uni work this year. I am managing to keep up with it though and it helps me to focus my training.
I’m really appreciative to Scott UK for all their support this year, it’s fantastic to have their backing for 2013.

Iain, Stuart and Liam on the Junior Podium

Gillian Pratt - Abriachan Interview

Not only is she one of the fastest ladies in the series, she is also rides for last years team series winners, Team Leslie Bikeshop.

Gillian is a great, friendly, and you'll often hear her out on the course in the afternoon races cheering on her team mates. This goes to show the team spirit at Team Leslie, which Gillian finds beneficial to her racing.

We managed to catch her in a break between supporting the afternoon races to find out how her race had gone and what her plans for 2013 were.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions Gillian, and good luck for the rest of the season.

So, Gillian, how did you get on in the race today?
Today I came in first master female, it was a thoroughly enjoyable race on a brilliant course. It was a shame that it rained but there’s not much you can do about the weather in April in Scotland! There was really good competition today, she was giving me a really good run for my money. Every time I turned back I saw her and realised I’d have to go even faster!

What club do you ride for and what bike do you race on?
I’m part of Team Leslie Bikeshop. The support you get from other team members and their family at races is fantastic. Not to mention the support from Andy and Fiona at the shop. I race on a Scott Spark. It’s new to this season, I raced on it last season and liked it so much that I decided to keep it for the 2013 season.

What are your aspirations for this season?
I hope to have another successful season in the masters category and hopefully move up to the Elite category at the end of the season after a few years in the masters category. Hope to move up to elite next season after a couple of years in masters. The next race I’ll be at is the SXC at Cathkin Braes. Team Leslie is going up for a training day in a few weeks so it’ll be good to ride the course with everyone.

How do you balance your training with the real world?
I don’t find it too difficult to balance between racing, training and working. It’s a shame I have to work for a living tho! Sometimes you wish you could just be a normal person who didn’t have the added stress of training and racing but then you go to an event like today and it makes it all worthwhile. 

Jamie Johnston - Abriachan Interview

He's the fastest thing on two wheels and is following in his brother, Harry's footsteps to become one of Scotland's top young cyclists.

We caught up with Jamie following another fantastic race at Round 2 at Abriachan. He's a cracking young lad, with a really bright cycling future ahead of him. He's only ten years old so you might even be able to get his autograph for cheap now - in a couple of yours we won't be able to afford it!

Read what he had to say...

"I race for Thomson's Cycles, they are a really good team to ride for because they look after me well. My bike is a Specialized Rockhopper SL, it’s black and is really good, though I would like a new one from Thomsons soon! (ed – you listening to this Thomsons?!)

I race in the Under 12 category and I’m only 10 so I am one of the youngest in my category. I won the race today at Abriachan, it was a tough race but I really enjoyed it. There was tough competition from Rory McGuire, Calum Johnstone and Kier Robb. I managed to win the last round at Forfar too as well as every round of the series last year. I want to try to win all the races this year too.

My Dad is really proud of how I am doing on the bike and he looks after me well on race days to help me do well when I am racing and gives me tips to go faster.

It’s good to have a big brother who races too (Jamie’s big brother Harry races in the Youth category) we are competitive together. He helps me go faster by pushing me along when we are training, Harry is the most competitive and he races me up the climbs. I think he is worried that I will soon be faster than him!

The next bike thing I am saving up for is a Turbo Trainer that I will buy from my team shop, Thomsons Cycles."

Thanks for taking the time out of a busy race day to speak to us, Jamie, and good luck with the rest of the season. Keep doing your sponsons at Thomsons proud!

Pictures thanks to Mark Forrest.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

SXC/Thomsons Cycles Round 2 Abriachan 14/2/13

SXC/Thomsons Cycles Round 2 Abriachan

On Sunday the 14th of April, the SXC/Thomsons Cycles mountain bike event rolls into Abriachan for Round 2 of the 2013 series. With around 200 riders taking part in a multi-lap cross country race on a course taking in stunning views of the countryside above Loch Ness, it’s a must for racing and spectating.

Following a successful first round last month at Forfar, the organisers are looking forward to a brand new course for the 2013 series, with local club Ben Wyvis CC preparing the course for the arrival of racers from all over Scotland.

Local Elite rider Tom Evans from Strathpeffer is looking forward to racing in the Highlands, “The local trails around my home in Strathpeffer are my favourite place to cycle, and it’s fantastic that the SXC are coming to the Highlands to put on a race. The formation of Ben Wyvis CC has boosted the number of cyclists, who cycle for recreation and who go to races”. With his sights set on National titles and European success, Tom is looking forward to his first year in the Elite category. “It’s a challenge to be racing in the Elite category, however it’s an opportunity I relish. I hope to gain Commonwealth Games qualification criteria this year, while continuing to enjoy getting out and riding my bike.”

The course combines wide climbs with swooping, flowing descents. There is also the added interest of technical, challenging sections including ‘north-shore’ bridges, rocks, roots and moorland.

There will be categories for all levels of riders including first-time beginners trying their hand at mountain bike racing in the Beginners or Open category. There is also the opportunity to watch the top-level Elites taking on the course in the afternoon, with experienced, quality riders battling it out over many laps. Also included in the programme for the day is an Under-12’s race, where the younger riders get a chance to take on a mini version of the course.

For Northern riders, the event will incorporate the North of Scotland (NoSCA) Championships, which will allow the top-placed North of Scotland rider to become regional Champion. This is a fantastic opportunity for local riders to come along and compete against top Scottish riders with the added incentive of a regional Championship to contest.

Event entry will be open to everyone on the day from 9.30am, with races setting off at 11am and 2pm. Spectators will be able to find ample points around the course to watch and photograph racers grimace up the climbs and blast down the descents.

There is plenty of parking on site, along with toilet facilities and catering to keep riders and spectators well fuelled throughout the day.

For more information, visit www.sxc.org.uk or email info@sxc.org.uk

We are also on facebook and twitter

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

An Interview with Tom Evans

Leading up to Round 2 of the SXC/Thomsons Cycles Series in the Highlands at Abriachan, we caught up with local lad Tom Evans. Tom rides for local club Ben Wyvis CC, having just made the move up from Junior to Elite. He's been extremely successful in previous seasons and we're looking forward to seeing him make a big impact on the Elite racing scene, in Scotland, Britain and the World!

Good Luck for 2013 Tom, and thank you for taking the time to answer our questions and give us some insight into your life and racing.

Name: Tom Evans

Race Category: Elite

Club/Team: Ben Wyvis CC/Dryburgh Cycles

Part 1: Cycling

MB:             What bike do you ride?
TE:             I ride a Cannondale F29. I got this bike from a friend of a friend at the start of 2012 at a great price. It was the first proper top end bike I owned. This year I have upgraded the wheels and drivetrain, with help from Thumbprint Tuning, Just Riding Along and Dryburgh Cycles.

MB:             When and how did you get into cycling?
TE:            I was quite a late starter in cycling. It all started in 2009 when my dad, older brother, and friend of mine joined me in a four man team to race the Strathpuffer 24. After this I was approached by Andy Russell who was working for the local bike shop and he asked if I was keen to take cycling further and start racing. My first race was an SXC at Laggan Wolftrax. Even though I was no where near the front and can't even remember where I finished, from then on I havent even thought twice about carrying on and getting to as many races as possible.

MB:            What are your aims for this season?
TE:             For the 2013 season my main aim is gain qualification standards for the Commonwealth Games next year in Glasgow. It is massively competitive for places in the team and, as one of the younger hopefuls, I would love to get a place for the Games. Also, as this is my first year in the elite category, I am taking this as an introductory year and not looking too much into the results I get in comparison to last year. My main aims also include winning the Scottish XC series and hopefully getting in a good number of races abroad at World and European level. A massive target is the British Championships in July.

MB:            How are you finding the move up to elite this season?
TE:             It is a big move but I am relishing the opportunities. So far the weather has played havoc with the opening races of the year but it would seem that we are out of the bad weather now and I can look forward to great year racing. As I said, I’m not looking too much into results this year but things like qualification times for the games and races where an under 23 category is present, those are the main targets for this year.

MB:            What is your best cycling achievement to date?
TE:            I think my best cycling achievement would have to be winning the British XC series in 2012. With a different rider winning every round, it came down to the last round which I was able to win and, at the same time, claim the overall series. Last year I also gained selection for Great Britain to ride at World Cup's in Belgium and France.

MB:             What is your favourite thing about being a mountain biker?
TE:             My favourite thing is that whatever is happening in my everyday life, I can just take a break for a few hours and go out and ride my bike. It is a way of forgetting everything that is going on and just about having the most fun I can. I also enjoy where my bike takes me, either on local adventures or all over the world, it is fantastic.

MB:            Where is your favourite place to ride your bike?
TE:             Definitely the local trails around my home up in Strathpeffer. I never appreciated it until I moved down to Edinburgh to study in September 2012. While Edinburgh also has some great places to ride, it can't beat having unlimited trails on your doorstep. There are still many places I have not explored around my local area. What also makes riding up there so great is local network of cyclists, on and off road. With the formation of Ben Wyvis CC last year, I have seen a massive boost in the number of riders joining the club and getting out on their bikes, it's great to see

MB:            How do you juggle Uni commitments and training?
TE:             So far I haven’t found this too difficult. I guess it has always been the case that, at this age, school and uni work comes first and once that is done, I can go out on my bike. I am studying at Napier University and one of the reasons I chose Napier was that I had previously done fitness testing there and saw the brand new, amazing facilities at the Sighthill. Throughout my first year at uni, the staff have been really helpful with sessions weekly and are always at hand if I’m struggling with the uni work. Big thanks to Lesley Ingram and Geraint Florida-James.

MB:             What do you listen to on your Ipod while you warm up?
TE:             I actually keep on meaning to make a playlist for warming up but I change my mind on music so often I would just change it. But I’m not the kind of person that needs to listen to rock music to get psyched up. I normally listen to radio 1 or a specific genre on Spotify.

MB:             Have you riden the new Commonwealth Games track at Cathkin Braes? If yes what did you think of it?
TE:             I’ve visited the track once and it is fantastic. I raced there in 2011 and I could not recognise the area at all when I visited last month. The course is fantastic. I think the features are in the times with XC and showing the shift in course design. It is up to date and genuinely a world class facility.

Part 2: Random

1.     What is your favourite type of cake?
I am a massive fan of carrot cake.

2.     What is the last film you went to see at the cinema?
I went to see Sinister a while ago. It was scary.

3.     Who are your favourite band?
Not sure if I have a long term favourite band, I change music taste very frequently. At the moment the up and rising "The 1975" are my favourite

4.     If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?
To be able to teleport. Because I’m not a big fan of travelling.

5.     What is your favourite TV show?
Definitely Top Gear. However since I have been at uni, daytime television has crept into my life, such as Deal or No Deal and The Jeremy Kyle Show. It’s a guilty pleasure.

6.     What is your favourite sport other than cycling?
I also love football. I love getting a few friends together and watching the big matches.

7.     What one thing could you not live with out?
Comfy combo of loafer slippers and Adidas tracksuit bottoms. Also my iPad, it does everything I could ever need.

8.     What would you choose as your last meal?
Would have to be an extra large pizza from Pizza Hut with garlic cheese bites instead of the crust.

9.     What is your favourite song?
The 1975 - Chocolate

10.  Tea or coffee?
Not particularly keen on either but tea with extra milk and sugar if necessary.

11. Cheese and onion or salt and vinegar?
Cheese and onion hurts less in cuts, so I am going to go with that.

12. Summer or winter?
Summer all the way, the excitement of snow wears off after about 3 days. But you don't get sick of the sun and heat.

13. Blonde or Brunette?
Not too fussed. But if had to choose, brunette (hope no one reads into this too much!)

14. Style or speed?
Personally chosen speed, but style is cooler. But I can't do style so I just try and go fast.

15. Chinese or Indian?
100% Indian. One of my favourite type of meals is Indian. It’s a classic when I'm home. Getting an Indian carryout and watching football.

Monday, 8 April 2013

SXC (Thomsons Cycles) Round 2, Abriachan - Press Release

SXC – Round 2, Abriachan – Press Release Thomsons Cycles

Following on from a successful Round 1 at Forfar, the SXC in conjunction with series sponsors Thomsons Cycles, are delighted to heading to Abriachan, near Inverness, for Round 2 of the series. Pre-entry closes on Wednesday so make sure you get your entry in now to avoid the on-the-day fee and save yourself time on race morning.

Abriachan is a new and exciting course for 2013, which we can’t wait to get our bikes on. The course is located 15minutes South West out of Inverness, along the Loch Ness road. The course provides fantastic views across stunning countryside, so remember to take a break from ‘race-face’ and soak up the scenery!

Gordon from Ben Wyvis CC provided this course description;
The course starts on fireroad and climbs up the "Elevator" - a nice steady climb up through mature trees then a fast, swoopy descent before turning right to ride the "Bull run" in reverse which makes a great techy, rooty climb through tight trees. Then cross a banked "North Shore" bridge before a rocky climb and cut through to join the "Dragonfly" red descent / singletrack. This is now mostly in the open across heather clad moorland & felled forest. Many new sections have been made along here to make it a great, techy challenge that really flows ...if you nail it!! There are some rocky, rooty & muddy bits along here as well as a few tricky skinny plank crossings. The trail then climbs through Larch lined switchbacks and another bridge before rejoining the wider blue trail at the "Rivoulich Bends" ruins. It then descends down to the Red Quarry down the usual initial blue climb, turns up a fireroad climb before cutting back into the bottom of the jump park to climb up through this to the "Half way halt" before a final descent down "Drop Mhor" onto a short fireroad sprint finish.”

Check out the map of the trails here to make sense of the course description;

As usual, there will be all the categories to provide races for all ages and abilities, supported by Thomsons Cycles, including the Under 12’s race series so make sure you bring the kiddies with you for a fun day racing for all!

The fantastic Grange Kitchen, who always impress with their selection of soup, hot rolls, burgers, cakes and teas and coffees, will again provide catering. Make sure you get in the queue nice and early for some of their fab homemade soup!

Big thank you to the local landowners and the guys at BWCC for putting this race on for us, everyone is looking forward to checking out a new course.

Biggest thank you to the series sponsors Thomsons Cycles for all their support this year. Thomsons Cycles are providing all the fantastic prizes for the race series this year and are on hand at every race for assistance. The Elite winner at Round 1 also got a bike from Thomsons. We appreciate all the help we get from Thomsons who provide a professional feel at every race, and are there to support the SXC Series and racers alike.

Online entry can be found here; https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/86365/SXC-Round-2-Abriachan

New information for riders can be found here in the downloads section of the SXC website; http://sxc.org.uk/downloads.php

And remember to keep up to date by ‘liking’ us on facebook (SXC Scottish Cross Country Association), ‘following’ us on twitter ( @SXC_Series ) and registering with the forum on the SXC website ( www.sxc.org.uk/forum ) and checking out our new blog ( http://sxcseries2013.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/sxc-round-2-abrichan-press-release.html )

Find our series sponsors on twitter @ThomsonsCycles and check them out in store in Paisley and online at http://www.thomsonscycles.com

See you in the bonnie Highlands!