Irvine Beach Park with its 400 acres of rolling grassland and spectacular views demonstrated at the weekend why it was chosen as the first ever Scottish location for a national cyclocross event.
The seaside course was sporting its Sunday best as a dress rehearsal for the second leg of the six-round 2018-19 HSBC UK National Trophy Cyclocross Series in October.
Weather forecasters had predicted snow and they were right this time as riders arriving for the big races in the afternoon were confronted by a blanket of white.
It made for a cold few hours on the bike but the plus side was an unusual lack of mud which is always the main talking point at CX meetings.
A new circuit had been designed by the organisers, Walkers Cycling Club, to offer competitors fresh options from the familiar layout which has featured at Irvine for a decade and more. It also provided a dry run, to a limited extent, of the arrangements needed for the two days of national trophy racing in the autumn.
Previously, Irvine’s CX events were played out around the Dragon car park with its mix of high rises and deep drops adding to the fun. The new starting point on Sunday was the area next to the pond, known as the trim track, but as flat as much of it is there are enough hills to accommodate a long, tiring course that was tricky with plenty off-camber sections.
It was a challenge: the riders loved it and loathed it in equal measure, the regular half-hourly snowstorms testing their abilities even further.
The Irvine event was the middle round of the Trek Super Quaich series which started its 2018 run at Doonbank two weeks and concludes at Rouken Glen next week, again on the Sunday.
Sunday’s riders took to social meeting later that night to compliment the organisers on the format of the day’s racing and the change of course. They also thanked Walkers Cycling Club’s team of marshalls who worked in horrendous weather from early in the morning till late in the afternoon.
Scott Kerr and Brian McCutcheon of Walkers CC had pulled out the stops to make the event a success, sensing that an approach about the National Trophy might be on the cards. The two organisers commended North Ayrshire Council for their valuable help in securing the UCI’s commitment to Irvine.
Five races were staged over the day with 172 riders taking part.
Ayrshire returns: B race – 7. Kevin Pugh, Ayr Burners, senior, 6 laps 1.04.35; 27. John Lumley, Walkers CC, vet 50+, 5, 59.45; 44. Joanne Baxter, vet female, Ayr Burners, 5, 1.08.40.
A race – 16. Neil Walker, Cube Bikes, vet 40+, 7, 1.12.48; 19. Harry McGarvie, Team NorthSports, junior, 6, 1.01.53; 56. Ian Anderson, Walkers CC, vet 40+, 6, 1.13.43; 67. JP Baxter, Ayr Burners, vet 40+, 5, 1.02.26; 69. John McCracken, Loudoun RC, senior, 5, 1.02.52; 73. Russell Mowat, Walkers CC, vet 50+, 5, 1.04.35.