Apr 13 2012 by Lizzie Smith, Kilmarnock Standard
DANGEROUS Dan Howes (he is when thundering downhill on two wheels) secured a podium place in the first round of the Scottish Cross Country Mountain Bike Race series.
Dan is better known in his Park Tools oily apron than in his biking livery – for he is the head mechanic at Walkers Cycling shop in Kilmaurs.
A few weekends back, though, he was out on the trail and proving he’s as much an expert on the saddle as off it at Kirroughtree near Newton Stewart.
Big Dan and fellow Walkers CC member James Stenhouse were last over the start line but caught up as the open men’s event progressed over the forest tracks in the most westerly of the Seven Stanes biking centres.
Dan was first and James fifth in a field of 30 MTBers who were treated to dry, fast conditions on April Fool’s day.
Anna Walker did well to finish fourth in the master women’s event while James Watson was 10th in the master men’s event.
There are six SXC events in the series from now until September. The other dates are: Glennifer Braes, April 29; Aberfoyle, June 12; Forfar, July 1; Perth, August 5; and Drumlanrig, September 16.
This weekend the Tour DoonHame two-day race for elite cyclists was taking place between Dumfries and Girvan. The annual Easter event, organised by Wallacehill CC of Kilmarnock, was previously known as the Girvan Race.
Four riders from Walkers Cycling Club took in some of the action at a famous biking landmark on the Crosshill-Glentrool road.
David Belding, Catherine Logan, Russell Mowat and Laura McFarlane did a 90-mile return journey from Kilmaurs to catch the peleton as it sped past Rowantree Toll, site of the Davie Bell Memorial, on the first day, the Sunday. The four took up position at the Straiton road junction after dropping down from the Nic of the Balloch climb on the quiet singletrack in the Galloway Forest.
The highlight of the epic cycle was seeing the professionals in action but the downside was the weather – an icy wind and torrential rain spoiling some of the descents, including the super ‘never-ending’ downhill stretch from Tairlaw into Straiton. Hot soup at the Buck Cafe soon brought frozen fingers back to life and restored spirits for the coastal ride via Ayr, Prestwick and Troon before heading inland towards home territory.
Saturday’s club ride had one of the biggest turnouts of the year, with a dozen and a half riders taking part, including club mate Martin Shields, who had travelled from down south to renew old acquaintances over the Easter break.
The group split up quickly due to the large number – some riders wanting a short run while others opting for extra mileage.
The usual Saturday ride haunts were visited as the group made for Marine Drive in Irvine before making for Loans and Langholm Farm, which was the chosen coffee stop for many.
Club member Fiona Wallace was a new face among the Saturday riders who were well pleased to complete 30 miles in just two hours.
l STEWARTON’S RGCC plumped for a change of routine on holiday Monday. Due to their usual coffee stop being closed, the four set off for Beith with the intention of having a snack break in the middle of the ride. The elements forced the intrepid foursome to layer up against the westerly wind and rain but were warmed up later in the morning as the weather improved.
The group headed through Dunlop, over to Beith and then down the busy A737 Dalry road to the Graze roadside restaurant. After coffee and cake progress was sluggish down the A737 before they turned off onto the Sustrans route 7 and took a track through the Blair Estate, cutting back onto the B707 before turning right on the road to Kilwinning. This straight stretch was against a strong headwind but this worked in their favour when the group changed direction and headed for Stewarton via Auchentiber – and back home after a pleasant 24 miles.
l EASTER weekend was a double header for CTC Ayrshire with their monthly Ladies’ Ride on Saturday followed next day with their Main Ride.
The weather favoured the ladies, nine of whom assembled at the Magnum in Irvine to have a leisurely pedal to Eglinton Country Park. The ride was an inaugural outing for Linda as leader on what proved to be an incident-free day – not even a puncture! The CTC are pleased to welcome her to the group of registered leaders and look forward to her ideas for future rides.
An early lunch stop at the visitors’ centre was followed by a tour of the park, taking in the standing stones and historic doocot. Susi marked the weekend by appropriately distributing Easter eggs which were enthusiastically received by her fellow cyclists.
Seven riders turned out in Stewarton for the Sunday Main Ride called ‘Round East Kilbride without Touching It.’
The ride, headed by Phillip, proved hard work in the second half with a south westerly breeze holding back riders going up the Eaglesham Moor road and requiring them to pedal on the downhill side to get anywhere. Prior to that a rather complex route between Mearns and High Blantyre avoided most of the traffic and had everyone guessing ‘where next’? No-one was lost, they just didn't know where they were! Intermittent rain set in after the picnic stop south of High Blantyre. It looked more like snow as it approached. When the group arrived back at Stewarton they expressed thanks for the ride through teeth chattering with cold.
Details of all CTC Ayrshire activity can be found at www.cycleayrshire. co.uk.
l NEXT event in Loudoun Road Club’s 2012 calendar is the Cronberry Time Trial on Saturday, April 21.
The 17-mile TT starts with a steep uphill from Sorn Village Hall at 10am.