“If I hadn’t been wearing that number one on my back I don’t think I’d have got over that climb those last three times.“
The words of Scottish Road Race Championships 2018, Mark Robertson (Army CU) who had just successfully defended his 2017 title, confirming that he’s ‘not just a sprinter’ and giving lie to suggestions that his win last season was a ‘fluke.’
VeloVeritas hasn’t been to the Scottish Road Race Championship for a year or two but when we heard it was in Cromarty, one of favourite places on the globe there could be no excuse for absence.
Whilst Central Scotland suffered a wet and miserable Sunday, The Black Isle was bathed in sunshine as the women lined up for their race.
And I must mention that we had an email from a gentleman the other day telling us that we mustn’t call female cyclists ‘girls’ or ‘ladies’ – it’s demeaning and could be responsible for losing women to the sport.
As Terry Wogan used to say; ‘is it me?’
[Interestingly, for over a decade we’ve variously referred to male riders, pro and amateur, as ‘lads’, ‘laddies’, ‘boys’, ‘blokes’, etc. … we have had the sum total of zero complaints or emails. Editor]
We’d expected maybe three or four riders to be clear the first time up the heart breaker Mount High climb on the first of three 16 mile circuits – there were five; Jennifer George (Torelli-Brother), Chloe Fraser (The Racing Chance Foundation), MTB-er Kerry McPhee – who former multiple champion, Evan Oliphant had told us to look out for – Beth Hanley-Jepson (Edinburgh Road Club) and Natalie Munroe (Moray Firth CC).
And it was Evan’s tip at the head of affairs on Mount High.
The climb wasn’t steep but dragged up and up, with those long straights that are hard on the head.
The rest of the field was in ones, two’s and fours – a bit of a sprachle, as we say in Fife.
Lap two at the start of the second, much less savage ascent of the day, which came straight off the big descent off the main climb and the ‘famous five’ were well clear and were obviously going to be the first five finishers.
Behind them the rest had organised themselves but the gap was too big to close and the five girls up front were too good on the big climb for any successful chase to be organised.
At the line it was Jennifer from Chloe and MTB-er Kerry, with Beth in fourth spot and local, Natalie in fifth place.
It was a beautiful day for a race – just a pity about those oil platforms out there in the Firth… still, it gives us a different, ‘modern world’ backdrop.
The men lined up for the 2:00 pm start with defending champion, Robertson looking relaxed and MTB star Grant Ferguson bringing some continental colour to the race in his American Eagle strip.
I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t recognise the tune the piper played the peloton off to, but it was a nice touch.
Lap one, Mount High and three away, Messrs. Greig Brown (Bioracer Project GO), Ryan Fenwick (Wheelbase Castelli) and Jon Woolrich (Velo Sport Jersey) – just a tad optimistic over 100 miles and six times up Mount High but it gave guys like me something to write about.
The peloton was tranquillo; with the next five ascents well to the front of their minds.
Time for my shorts as we headed further down the hill in search of fresh backdrop – and still our three outlaws were on the run.