Ronde CC at the Tosh


2 November 2014

Having dried off, warmed up, and removed half of Irvine Beach from my bike, bath and…

The Ronde CC CX team were to find themselves once again confronted by a water feature in Round 4 of the Scottish Cyclocross series – the ‘Tosh’ at Auchentoshan in Clydebank.

After hearing the many tales of the terrible Tosh from the Scottish Cyclocross community, I had psyched myself up for a tough, techy and muddy and cross race. The main feature of the Tosh, which makes the course a firm favourite of the series, is the infamous water crossing, which when surrounded by steep banking on both sides, makes for an interesting and in my case, an intimidating addition to have to contend with. Having watched various YouTube videos of riders falling over the handlebars into the water, losing shoes and scrambling up the muddy banking on their hands and (in some cases knees), I was feeling a little apprehensive about how I would fare when faced with the mighty Tosh.

Photo: Mark McGhee

It came as a surprise therefore, upon arrival at the course, to be told that the Commissaire had decided to remove the water crossing completely, following an earlier inspection which had deemed the Tosh as ‘unsafe’ to ride.  As a cross newbie, I must admit that this news came as a relief to me (and no doubt others felt the same), but the decision has also been met with uproar from disgruntled SCX circles.

Despite the controversy, the course was still as tough as expected, with conditions causing many unfortunate mechanicals. With a mix of tarmac to wet mud and vice-versa transitions, grassy switchbacks, bomb-holes and steep banking, there was more than enough to contend with. The technical course was met with great support from lively bystanders and it was plain to see why the Tosh – which is the longest running event in the Scottish Cyclocross series – remains a firm favourite.

As for my performance – after being gridded (for the first time) and armed with a brand new bike, I had set myself up well and managed to hang in until, after two laps, I suffered a front puncture and had to find my way to the pits. Because I had no second bike, I had to rely on a fellow rider who kindly offered me his spare wheel. I found it impossible to make the time up that I had lost, but managed to get round without much mishap, eventually finishing 17th in the senior women’s class. If last week’s lesson was to turn up on time, this week I learned that it is always necessary to have a second bike race ready!

Photo: Mark McGhee

Gavin McDougall made light work of the course, riding the banking on every lap to finish 17th out of a 50-plus strong senior’s field. Alistair Dow got off to a great start but unfortunately had to pull out of the Vets race due to losing a rear mech. Meanwhile, newcomer Stephen Birrell, endured his first cross race and despite facing the harsh reality that is SCX, is already signed up for Lochore Meadows in a few weeks’ time.

Clydebank: controversy and cross – what’s not to like about that?

Words by Katie Newlands, photos courtesy of Mark McGhee