Taking it lying down at #RGCX

Super Quaich Series Round 1, Rouken Glen

January 2016

Rouken Glen CX (#RGCX) was the opener for Super Quaich, the new Scottish cyclocross series. The host club Alabannach put on an absolute belter. With an A/B race format, grouping riders based on recent results, the racing is much closer right through the race, and should be tight right through the series.

Stephen Birrell on the West Brewery Run Up - beer tokens at the top

I’ve only done a handful of cross races before and have never placed higher than midfield, but somehow I was seeded into the ‘A’ race at Rouken Glen. I started well and managed to stay towards the front of the race for the burn-up to the first corner and for part of the first lap. Then it got a bit technical. I haemorrhaged places as more experienced riders stayed more upright.

In numbers

●    I finished 62/82 starters. Alistair Dow had a much better race and placed 26th. Meanwhile Stephen Birrell had an excellent 19th in the B race.
●    100% of the women who started beat me. They're fast. I'm not. 
●    The course distance was 2.25km. In an hour’s racing, I managed 7 laps (winners managed 8). 
●    I think I fell off at least 6 times.
●    I shouldered the bike at least 28 times, up three run-ups and over one set of barriers each lap.
●    I picked up 4 beer mats on ‘West Beer Hill’ entitling me to claim a few beers after the race. Result!

In colours

Alistair Dow working his way up the field

The white stuff. A fairly heavy dusting of snow added a whole new dimension to an already technical course, including the odd wee patch of ice and hard-packed snow. As a newbie cross rider who has mostly ridden drier, faster courses, this was a great chance to try ‘real’ cross.

The pink stuff. The Alabannach crew had laid out a mind-boggling amount of scrim and course tape, all on-brand. Even the marshals sported magenta Big Bobble hats. The marshals were even polite when a rider pinged their course tape for the twentieth time.

The bends at Hecklers Hill claimed many victims

The brown stuff. Although a lot of the course was covered in snow, with the odd bit of thawing/freezing grass, where there was mud it was lovely and gloopy, which tended to make the bike a bit independent-minded when trying to hold the line between the trees (crash #5 involved an inconveniently-placed sapling).

The black and blue stuff. Not bruising! My cross bike, recently serviced by Gary and JB at Ronde, performed flawlessly. It didn’t even drop the chain when I kept falling off it. Snow and SPD cleats is not a match made in heaven, however. I and a few other riders spent long bits of each lap trying to get the critical foot clipped in.

One of the few sections on the course to get the power down

In summary

There are rewards on offer for all racers

So even for someone very steep on the learning curve (or perhaps even flailing around at the bottom of it) it was a grand day out. One of the advantages of cross as a format is that it very quickly becomes a set of mini-battles with the riders closest to you, especially when riders are seeded into A/B races. You might be light years away from Davie Lines and the other expert riders, but you still have every chance of picking up a place or two if you keep battling to the line. Oh, and falling off onto mud/grass/snow doesn’t hurt at all. 

Scottish Cyclocross is a brilliant discipline right now, and the Alabannnach crew and all involved in the SuperQuaich series are setting the bar very high. Get stuck in! SuperQuaich is full but there are still places at The Valentine's Day Mas-cx-acre in Feb 14th in Dunfermline. 

Full gallery of shots at Flickr.

Words by John Fitzgerald, photos/videos Ross Wood

Obligatory post-race teapot (hand not to scale)