Thursday, June 20, 2024

Grant Ferguson and the Scottish Hill Climb Championships 2010 – ‘Une Erreur de Jeunesse’


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The French have an expression for it; ‘une erreur de jeunesse’ – a mistake of youth. The youth in question being Grant Ferguson. When VeloVeritas saw Grant’s bike at the top of the climb, we winced and advised that it disappear into the back of the family camper van, pronto – the back brake had been removed as an aid to weight saving.

Whilst in real terms it created no safety issues since the youngster warmed up on rollers at the bottom of the climb, and jumped into the family camper van at the top, we knew that there would be those present that if they spotted the bike ‘sans frein’ would delight in pointing out the infringement.

And so it proved, the young man from Peebles was DQ-ed. A shame, but ‘rules are rules’ we suppose.

To those we initially inconvenienced by reporting an incorrect result, apologies; we paid the price for getting the times from the timekeeper at the hill top so we could get the report and pictures up on the internet as quickly as possible – we didn’t go to Freuchie Hall for the award ceremony, so don’t be too hard on us, please.

Congratulations to Arthur, we’re sure it’s not the way he’d like to retain the title; but as Oor Dave always says; ‘a win is a win!

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Grant Ferguson – Original Report

‘On a dour, grey Sunday morning with low cloud clinging to the Lomonds it was Dooley’s mountain biker Grant Ferguson who took best advantage of the finger-numbing easterly tail wind to beat team mate Arthur Doyle to the Scottish Hill Climb Championship on the savage ramp which slices the contour lines straight up Purin Hill.

Grant Ferguson
Grant ‘won’ the Hill Climb seven years ago. Photo©Martin Williamson

The finish line time keeper told VeloVeritas that Ferguson’s 6:40 was eight seconds clear of Doyle and had set a new hill record, deposing Sandy Gilchrist as ‘King of the Den,’ the lower, wooded valley part of the climb being known as Purin Den.

Grant Ferguson
Arthur looked a little out of sorts today.

Third place went to Kristoff Aksnes (Glasgow Wheelers) a further 11 seconds down on Doyle.

Grant Ferguson
Kristoff Aksnes was the fastest for a while.

Mari Todd (Sandy Wallace) was fastest of the girls to go with her Trossachs win of last weekend.

Grant Ferguson
Mari Todd made it look easy.

The name ‘Lomond’ means ‘beacon’ but the ‘Paps o’ Fife’ – as the sailors call them – were largely hidden by low cloud as the youths were first to brave the slippery tarmac up through the trees on the lower ‘den’ part of the course.

The tiny gears some of the riders were using made it look as if they were going well, but their speed over the tar told another story.

VeloVeritas‘ lay-by was paid a visit by ‘Golden Oldies,’ former VC Roubaix rider, Dave Chapman; 60-odd times Scottish grass track champion, John Hardie and former rapid track man and junior BAR flyer, Andy Henderson – it was good to chat about the ‘old days,’ but we had a race to report.

Grant Ferguson
Ed with auld pals Dave and Jock.

Mari Todd was moving visibly faster that any of the other girls and her win looked like a formality.

The first rider to have the momentum and focus that make a good ride was number 22, Andrew Underwood (Glasgow Wheelers).

Grant Ferguson
Andrew Underwood (Glasgow Wheelers).
Grant Ferguson
Andrew Davies (The Bicycle Works).

Andrew Davies ( was next but despite looking the part, he was down on Underwood.

A minute later it was John Patterson (Dumfries) out of the saddle, doing a job and level with Underwood.

Grant Ferguson
John Patterson (Dumfries CC).

The man who retains VeloVeritas as his personal photographic agency, David Griffiths (Glasgow Wheelers) was next to go top, our excellent time keeper, Gillian had him 11 seconds up.

Aksnes off 29 looked best so far, smooth on a bigger gear than most and looking good to us for a medal.

Grant Ferguson
Kristoff Aksnes was the fastest for a while.
Grant Ferguson
Chris Smart (GB Fire Service).

Fireman Chris Smart has been a hill climb medallist before – but not today.

Top tester Joe Wilson (Sandy Wallace Cycles) was there for the team – but not enjoying the experience.

Grant Ferguson
This isn’t really Joe’s thing.
Grant Ferguson
Grant looked a class apart – smooth, fast cadence, and powerful.

Ferguson looked every inch the champion, tall, slim, focussed, in the saddle, getting the power down smoothly, we had him 16 seconds up.

With two top fives finishes in Junior MTB World Cups and 15th in the Junior MTB Worlds this year, his performance perhaps isn’t surprising.

And with just two riders to come it was going to take a big ride to unseat the Peebles junior.

Grant Ferguson
Gordon was labouring with his fixed gear.

Last year’s silver medallist, Gordon McBride (Sandy Wallace Cycles) wasn’t producing the ride that was needed, despite having recently beaten Arthur Doyle in the Fife Championships on the climb and riding fixed – always Gilchrist’s choice for this hill.

It was down to Doyle – but the gear was too big and the rhythm not right.

Grant Ferguson
Arthur was certainly trying.

A big finishing effort saw him collapse on he grass at the top – whilst a remarkably fresh Ferguson chatted to VeloVeritas from the family camper van.

Grant Ferguson
Recovered in a few minutes, Grant chatted to us from the warmth of the van.

“This wasn’t a particular target, but I did want to do well here.

“I’ve been mountain biking all season and the last few weeks I’ve been trying to ride two events each weekend, with regular two hour rides in the week – and I did some hill intervals this week.

“I know that the hardest part of this hill is at the top, but there’s a strong tail wind today, so I went deep early, up through the trees, because I knew that when it opened out I’d get help from the taily. There wasn’t as much assistance from the wind when I was in the trees, it was swirling around.

“The road surface was very slippery down there too – I put the power down out of a right hander and nearly lost it, the back wheel skidded out.

“I didn’t ride the hill beforehand, I drove up to look at it and warmed up on rollers at the start.

“Gears? I was on a 39 ring but I’m not sure about the sprockets!

“The British hill climb? It’s not something I’ve been thinking about; it’s been a long season and I’m looking forward to some rest after this.”

And another season draws to a close – see you at the cyclo-cross champs?


Result - Scottish Hill Climb Championships 2010

All Results

Gold – Arthur Doyle (Dooleys Cycles) *
Silver – Kristoff Aksnes (Glasgow Wheelers)
Bronze – Jamie Kennedy (Glasgow Couriers)

Glasgow Wheelers – Aksnes, David Griffiths & Andrew Underwood. New course record 6.48

Gold – Mari Todd (Sandy Wallace Cycles)
Silver – Laura Murray (Deeside Thistle)
Bronze – Sharon Doyle (Sandy Wallace Cycles)

Sandy Wallace Cycles – Todd & Doyle

Gold – Neil Patterson (Sandy Wallace Cycles) *

Gold – Craig Wallace (Deeside Thistle)
Silver – Cameron Balfour (Peebles CC)
Bronze – Callum Foster (Leslie Bikes)

Peebles CC, Cameron and Stuart Balfour.

* Junior, Grant Ferguson (Dooleys Cycles) was fastest overall on the day, but was disqualified for riding non-fixed bike without a rear brake.

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Grant Ferguson –