The first-ever national cyclocross event to be held in Scotland – at Irvine Beach Park last October – was so good the organisers came back for seconds, writes Alan Woodison
And once again the two-day bike racing festival, on Saturday and Sunday past, was a huge hit with riders from all over the UK, thanks to the challenging terrain of a hilly seaside course and the wacky west coast weather at this time of year.
The six-event National Cyclocross Trophy had previously been contested at various locations south of the border. But last year the organising body decided to “test the water” in Scotland.
Irvine was chosen for its long history of local cyclocross racing on grassy hills, sandy dunes and muddy stretches in a picturesque setting by the sea.
Walkers Cycling Club, with members based in Irvine and Kilmarnock, were given the task of setting the event up.
And it all, eventually, came together with support from North Ayrshire Council and companies like Stagecoach Buses, Malcolm Group, Billy Bowie Tankers and James Frew Plumbers.
So successful was the Irvine CX weekend that it was awarded the title of Scotland’s best cycling event of the year by Scottish Cycling in 2018.
It was no surprise when the Beach Park was again among the venues for this year’s competition.
Round three at the weekend attracted 600 plus riders for two days of cycling on a new and trickier-than-ever circuit full of corners, contours and cambers.
One of the organisers, Mark Ward, said: “We had two brilliant days of racing with typical Scottish weather – a freezing cold wind blowing most of the time with sunny spells and the occasional rain shower thrown in. Overnight rain cleared for both days and the ground remained hard, meaning tyre choice was a key decision for riders.”
The only casualties were three gazebos which look flight during a 10-minute blustery session.
Fraser Johnston of Scottish Cyclocross posted on Facebook: “ Well done on another incredible weekend. You smashed it last year and you’ve delivered yet again.”
Irvine was identified as a cyclocross venue 15 years ago when Neil Walker of Walkers Cycling Club first brought the sport to the Ayrshire coast. Fields were small and competition among riders was limited. But cyclocross took off and is now played out right across the UK with competitors travelling far and wide over the winter months.
Images by Susan Walker (c)Singingbike