“I was needing a win! I’ve had too many second places!” was how Gordon Murdoch (Pedal Power) explained his strongman’s victory over 62 windy, potholed, crash-plagued miles in Saturday’s Dooley’s Grand Prix, event three in the Scottish Cycling Super 6 series, high on the bleak moors to the south west of Paisley.
The Pedal Power men took their tartan to a one-two-four, with Scott Macrae close behind Murdoch at the line and the man in the Super Six leader’s jersey – Gary Hand – fourth, after puncturing at the wrong time.
Third place belonged to race hero, Arthur Doyle (Dooleys); it had looked for a while as if his solo epic might pay off, but Murdoch was, as Macrae said; “super strong!”
It was windy, but mild as tester, Hugh Jamieson of the promoting club lead the big bunch up the twisting drag from the start on the first of eight laps of a technical, unforgiving circuit.
By the end of the first lap, there was no bunch, just groups of various sizes spread thin around the course, courtesy of “Herdy’s Hell,” the single carriageway section of the course which had potholes aplenty, gravel, hairpins and sharp snaps – in fact, everything except flat, well surfaced tarmac.
Murdoch was already at the head of affairs; behind the crashes had started.
Eddie Cowle (Stirling Bike Club) discovered that well made though Cervélo forks are, they’re no match for good Scottish rock.
One of the crash victims explained to us that he wished he remembered one of the golden rules of cycling – always research the course first!
Murdoch was at the head of affairs again on lap two as he and Ross Creber (Science in Sport) had a gap on a group of around a dozen with another dozen or so chasing.
Kevin Barclay (Pedal Power) was in the second group and could see the race disappearing up the road, but his efforts were in vain – the race pattern was established.
The third lap saw the sun go on strike and the temperature dropped, the lead group had 45 seconds on the chasers – the elastic hadn’t quite snapped.
Doyle’s bid for a second Super Six win began on lap four, as he prized 15 seconds of daylight between himself and the Pedal Powered leaders. The gap back to the next group was now 1-40.
By lap five, the lead group had been whittled down by the wind, punctures and lack of form – Doyle now had 50 seconds as Bob Taylor urged him on from the roadside.
The sixth lap saw the race enter it’s final phase as Doyle’s lead came back to 25 seconds on a group of three – Murdoch, Hand and Macrae with a further 20 seconds back to Tim Allan (GS Metro), David Lines (Pedal Power) and a strong looking Phil Brown (Velo Ecosse). Behind, it was carnage.
The penultimate lap saw Doyle still 25 seconds clear of Murdoch and Macrae – Hand having punctured.
Meanwhile, Brown was giving his best Lars Boom impersonation as he ran up the tough second climb in the “Herdy’s Hell” section – his rear tyre on the rim.
Hand, Lines and Creber were next, with the trio passing Brown before he could get a wheel change.
At the bell, Doyle was back in the fold as he, Murdoch and Macrae ploughed through the rising wind.
And whilst it was understandable that his Dooley’s clubmates might discuss Doyle jumping the Pedal Power riders on the hill, it was unlikely, given the watts he’d been pouring out for most of the afternoon.
One lap later and it was Murdoch and Macrae who had done the “jumping away on the hill,” but a good ride by Doyle nonetheless.
‘Big Gordon‘ was much more eloquent than the last time I interviewed him after a major win – the 2007 Rosneath;
“Make sure you get the blood on my knee in the picture – just to prove I crashed! I came off when we were chasing Arthur on lap six. I felt very strong today – I could have raced another couple of laps if I had to.
“I knew we’d get Arthur back, it was very windy and it’s such a tough course to be away on your own for so long – but all credit to him. I’ve changed my training recently, I’m concentrating more on speed and quality – it’s made a big difference, one big indicator is that my pulse rates have come down. But I was needing a win, I’ve had too many second places!”
Have Pedal Power been coaching their boys on interview skills? Scott Macrae showed no fear of the notebook either;
“It was a tough circuit and there was attacking from the gun. We knew that it would be likely to split on the “Herdy’s Hell” section, so we kept at the front through there and sure enough, it split there half way rund the first lap. The next laps were a whittling down process as guys punctured and cracked; then Gordon and Gary launched a big attack to get to Arthur and I got with them.
“Unfortunately, Gary punctured but Gordon and I got across to. When we caught him, he rode with us and on the last lap, Gordon attacked; Arthur tried hard to get back to him, but I could see he was tired and I jumped him too. I got across to Gordon, but he was super strong and hopped off on the last rise, to get the 1-2 is just great.”
I started by asking Arthur Doyle if he’d ride the race the same way, if he had to ride it over?
“Aye, because I’m stupid! Seriously, I cramped today, my legs just locked up. My background is time trialling, I knew that I couldn’t match Gordon at the finish – he has too much of a jump for me, so I had to try and do something on my own. When they got up to me, they just one,two-ed me. Early in the season I was trianing for speed, but now I’m doing longer intervals in preparation for time trialling. That doesn’t prepare you for this kind of event.”