As the storm clouds grew over the Wallace Monument the anticipation increased ahead of “Up the Kirk 2013” which had the honour of incorporating the Scottish Hill Climb Championships. The volunteers of the host club, Stirling Bike Club, got the course set up as a few nervous riders did some last minute reccies and stressed about gear ratios and tyre pressures.
Words by race organiser, Eddie Addis
With the youth race starting proceedings the first rider off at 9.01am was Perth United’s Jake Swan, as the youngest rider in the race, having just turned eight years old, did himself and his club proud to set the initial time to beat.
The times continued to get faster and faster, and more impressive as minutes ticked by with the quickest times more than rivaling and putting to shame many of the times set by the seniors later in the day.
The fastest overall time for both male and female riders were unsurprisingly set by the Youth A riders with Mark McGuire, Perth United setting the fastest overall time with a blistering 3’02”.
The fastest female on the day was Keira Johnston from Glasgow Riderz, setting an equally impressive benchmark of 4’08”.
Thankfully the threatening grey skies kept hold of their wet payload until the youth race had finished, the youngsters demonstrating why they are the future of our sport and impressing those who had made the effort to come along and show support.
As the seniors started to warm up and the tension grew the heavens opened and what can only be described as a torrent of rain lashed the already greasy, leaf-covered course, making conditions anything but easy.
All those calculations over gear ratios and tyre pressures went straight out the window and last minute fumbling with track pumps was a common sight around the start area as tyre pressure were dropped to compensate for the steady flow of water that was now running down the hill.
The rain-soaked riders enthusiasm for the race didn’t seem to be dampened by the conditions and at 10.31 Trefor Baker or Glenmarnock Wheelers set the time by which all that followed would be judged on the longer course used for the adults.
With two of the favourites to take the title of Mens Scottish Hill Climb Champion 2013, last year’s King of the Kirk, Steven Lawley and David Griffiths, being away on international duty in France the start sheet looked to indicate the title was there for the taking.
The early benchmark time was set by Ross Cunningham from Glasgow Green Cycle Club who hit five minutes dead, this time then stood for almost an hour until local rider from Squadra Porcini, Prasad Prasad, who is normally seen setting the hill alight wearing trainers without a bike, smashed through the five minute barrier with a time of 4’53”.
However, as Prasad was riding on a day licence he wasn’t eligible for the champs but still set a time to raise the eyebrows of the big hitters that were set to follow.
As the raid-soaked riders huddled round the results tent trying to maintain body heat with coffee and cake, for the impressive selection of home baking that was on offer, watching as the times were relayed down from the top of the hill, rider after rider tried but failed to top the time of Prasad, until Arthur Doyle of Dooleys Cycles put to good use his huge power and years of experience to propel his bike to the top of the Kirk in an amazing time of 4’45”.
With almost 20 riders still to go after Arthur, would anyone have the legs to deny him being crowned King of the Kirk?
The closest of all the challengers was Euan Pope of Glasgow Road club who was the only one of the remaining riders, and one of only three on the day, to go under the five minute barrier.
King Arthur was crowned and took the title of Scottish Men’s Hill Climb Champion 2013. Euan Pope, Glasgow RC, scooped a well-deserved Silver and the Bronze went to Glasgow Green’s Ross Cunningham.
The women’s race was contested by a smaller field but that didn’t make for any less drama, the second rider off and setting a blistering time was local rider Kerry McPhee riding for local shop based team, Rock and Road Cycles.
Being a triathlete might have been an advantage to Kerry as the rain continued to fall and swimming might have proved to be a better was to complete the course. She didn’t need her wetsuit and finished in an impressive time of 5’41”.
Despite valiant efforts to beat her time the closest challenger was Granite City’s Julie Erskine who came within two seconds of Kerry but and had to settle for silver on this occasion.
The bronze medal was lifted by Lynsey Curran who just missed on going under six minutes.
Last year’s Ladies’ Champion Jen Taylor was last to go and the only rider capable of denying Kerry of her first Scottish ladies Hill Climb Champion title.
Jen put up a brave defence of her title but in the end just fell short of getting on the podium after a long hard season and finished in fourth place.
An impressive debut by Kerry McPhee, Roc