Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Dale’s Ups and Downs


I have indeed been a busy man throughout the season, writes Dale McCallum. I have been racing in the junior Scotland squad in all the national series, and I have had some highs and some lows as we do as bike riders.

If I was to go through the full season there would be no room for anyone else’s blogs so I am going to tell you the best and the worst part about my season.

My ‘up’ of the season started with the decision to ride the Isle of Man on my own with my friend Stuart Mcluskey another lad who was in the junior Scotland squad .

We made the decision to ride Isle of Man as if a national squad was to go it would take up 90% of the budget and also it was the week before the British champs so some people thought it was best not to do a tour the week before the British champs, but me and Stuart thought it was too big a race to let slip through our fingers so we car shared and booked all the hotels in the Isle of Man. I would just like to thank John Anderson for his support for me getting to the Isle of Man he helped me out a lot.

Dale McCallum
Dale McCallum.

Once we got on our way to the Isle of Man we were so excited as we were going on a road trip as we were going straight from the Isle of Man to Wales as we were riding the British champs the next week and if we were to come home from the Isle of Man and then got to the British champs a few days later it would have cost us a lot more money so we booked a travel lodge to stay in in Wales for after the Isle of Man. When we arrived in the Isle of Man we were staying in the casino hotel witch was 4 star so it was a great room we got.

The first day was a 2 mile time trial (sprint) whitch was one mile down the promenade and back. We were always gonna be really close with the times once I had finished my time trial I went straight back to the hotel as it was right over the road from the course and I was thinking of the next day as I didn’t want to waste energy. I was 27th in the time trial but I was like 2 seconds off the leader or so.

The race was going to sort itself out the next day it was a hilly circuit . The race got underway and there were attacks left right and centre everyone wanted to be in every move. I got away in a move for about 5 miles and it got pulled back it was clear everyone had high hopes and were not about to watch them go a few minutes up the road.

Once there was about 5k to go everyone was nervous there was that feel about the peloton, I got away with 2 other riders as I slid onto a move that went with two other riders – it looked promising as noone wanted to chance as everyone was thinking of the sprint I thought but I was quite shocked when we got brought back with 2k to go.

As we got brought back a group went over the top, it had 6 riders, one of them was Stuart which was great as there was a Scottish rider in the move. As we came to the last climb I tried my luck and attacked as the 6 riders were sort of home and dry and I was wanting to finish up with a good result.

I had a gap till 500 to go and a few riders came past me like rockets, I could not react as my legs were on their limit. I crossed the line and looked at the board I was pleased to see I got 9th and was 21 seconds off the lead. Stuart on the other hand had bagged second and was 11 seconds off the yellow so my objective the next day was to ride my own race but keep an eye on Stuart to make sure he was up near the front of the race as he was in a great position, and we wanted to fly the flag.

Dale potters with his bike.

The next day was a flatter day so we had hopes of trying to put Stuart in the yellow and get me a stage win so as the next stage got underway there was not much happening apart from small moves that were almost half-hearted as noone wanted to take it up.

The rain came,  myself and more people were getting motivated to get away so this was great – there was attacks and proper racing being done, and with about 20k to go we were all still together as we approached the only hill of the stage there was a surge in the group which cased a big pile-up in the group and I went crashing into the back of a rider who had come down right in front of me.

I smashed my collarbone off his seat post and my neck was cut open, along with my fingers that got caught in his cassette. Yhis was very sore but I still was eager to get up when I realised I could not move due to a massive pain in my collarbone.

I could not pick myself up off the ground and then a medic told me to stay where I was, so I was utterly disappointed I could not finish the final day of the tour.

I went to hospital with a suspected broken collarbone and I was getting the ferry over to England that day (not the best of feelings) the doctor X- rayed my collarbone and I was sitting waiting with my fingers crossed that it was not broken and the doctor came and told me it was not broken and that it was just badly bruised, so he gave me a course of antibiotics and told me I was good to go, what a feeling.

The next tour I am going to tell you a little about is the Tour of Bristol. The Scottish squad took us down to it as it’s part of the national series.

This was always going be the hardest race as the hills in the second day were so steep and long, the first day was a flat 55 mile stage and all the lads in the team made sure that there was a man or 2 in every move and there was – we put on a good show for the country. One of the lads got 8th on the first day and I finished in the peloton like 30th but the times were all the same so there was a lot to play for on the second day.

The second day started with a lot of attacks as there was a lot of riders wanting to get away before the big hills so they could ride them at their own pace but it all stayed together until the first hill that was 10% and about 5k long the race blew to bits with all the Scots still up in the front group. We were all still covering moves and trying to make our own then the second hill of the day came witch was 17% and the group of riders halfed this was great as there was still 2 Scottish riders in the front group me and Craig Walles in the end a group of 6 got away and sadly me and Craig were not there so we ended up going up the final hill for 7th place.

Craig had a great dig and it nearly stuck but there was a good few other guy wanting that spot and as we came up to Craig I attacked and Sam Low, the British Champion, jumped on my wheel and Craig managed to jump on to I kept pushing in hope of breaking the other riders on my wheel but with 50 meters to go Sam came around me and took 7th and I got 8th and Craig got 9th. It was a great ride we had 2 Scottish riders in the top 10 of a national race and also overall I finished 10th which I was really pleased with.

I also went to Belgium in the season for 10 days and had 3 races where there were 200 riders all looking 3 times the size of me, but I was not fazed by this and I was eager to get racing against them.

I went to Belgium with my friends Cameron and Ryan – his mum and dad were going on holiday to France where we stayed for the first night and then we got dropped off at our hotel in Belgium and got left to our own devices, we pedalled out to every race with a backpack on, the weather was tremendous and it was great.

In the first race I came 11th and I was really happy with that, and the second race I broke away on my own for 12 miles and then got caught by a group of 20 riders then I won a preim and came 11th again.

In the last race I came 40th, this was hard racing on cobbles and super-narrow roads but it was a great experience, I loved it.

Back at home the boys were all working hard on the racing and getting good results, I was very chuffed to hear they were doing well.

Cheers, Dale.