Davie Bell to continue in 2014

We are pleased to confirm that the David Bell Memorial RR will continue into 2014 as Kenny Armstrong steps into the role of event organiser.

Kenny will be supported by a team of club members including Christopher Johnson, who has stepped down as organiser after 3 years to focus on other projects.

Third in line, new organiser Kenny Armstrong is no stranger to the Davie Bell!

Third in line, new organiser Kenny Armstrong is no stranger to the Davie Bell!

The race is expected to return to its usual June calendar slot (tentatively 22nd June 2014).

2014 will see the 49th edition of the Scottish Monument.  Despite its reputation for a fierce parcours, the 2013 edition finished in a 14 -man sprint won by Evan Oliphant.

Kenny Armstrong is a familiar face on the Scottish racing circuit, and has considerable event organisation experience already having very successfully headed the organising team for the Scottish Team Time Trial in 2013.

More info to follow as it becomes available.

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The trophies have arrived!

The pre-race jitters starting to creep up now!  We have taken delivery of our custom built race trophies from the Sprocketman and wowee they don’t disappoint.

Full House!

Lets start with most lucrative prize of them all – The Highwayman Challenge Retro Bike Trophy.  To win, you must contest our 101km audax challenge on a bike which is born before 1998.  The criteria set is that it must look ‘ancient’ to a modern teenager, and we’ve got some gathered together to ensure strict quality control.  Our Highwayman Challenge riders are also raising funds for the MS Society Scotland, whose logo is dispalyed here.  With a chain ring as old as Davie Bell himself, its a winner!

Probably not the best gear ratio for getting over the Ayrshire Alps…

Next up we have the Davie Bell prizes.  The most stylish award of the day is for the fastest men on two wheels – the South Carrick Community Lesiure Sprinter’s trophy.  Decided over the hot spots at Dailly and Barrhill, its going to take a strong man to amass the points needed to hang this on their wall.

We love it! – such an artisan. Seven different stages were involved in casting that italic sprint logo. You will not find another like it

Our climbers are a hard breed.  They enjoy a bit of pain, wrestling their machines up the Nic and Glenalla…  And how do they prepare for the feeling of rasping lungs gasping for breath?  Not by drinking poor grade spirits, thats for sure.  William Grants and Sons, who distill and bottle the premium quality Hendricks at their Girvan base will award our KOM in style!

Part 1 of a 2 part prize. Speak nicely to our KOM and he might give you a taste of part 2 🙂

And for Ben Greenwood / Robbie Hassan / Tom Last / Felix English / Gary Hand / Ayr Road CC’s Mark Skilling the winner’s trophy, presented by South Ayrshire Council.  Not only this, but 100 shiny BC points on the racing licence too.  Super with a b, as our clubmen might say.

You can look, but you cannot touch! Whoever takes this home on Sunday night will have thoroughly deserved it. Only a strong man wins the Davie Bell

Behind the Scenes: The Photo-Finish Operator’s Tale

We continue our ‘behind the scenes’ series of interviews to highlight all the wonderful people involved in making a race happen.

There was a time before photo-finish at our race, and its a time we’d like to forget…  If it were not for the photo-finish operators we’d still be enjoying the wrath of the Braveheart forum community!

When it comes to organising a race in Scotland, number one recommendation in the toolkit should be “Book photo finish!”  We are very fortunate in Scotland to have two of the hardest working guys in the sport in Bill Dunscombe and Sandy Glover.  Thanks to Bill for taking time out to tell us what he does.


Bill, you are a photo-finish operator. Can you tell us what exactly it is you do?

Along with my club mate and colleague Sandy Glover we provide the Scottish Cycling photo finish service to most of the major road races plus some Track events. We aim to provide a printed result showing exact finishing positions and times within a short time after the last rider finishes.

Bill and Sandy being awarded volunteer of the year 2010 by Jackie Davidson, former CEO of Scottish Cycling.

How many races do you provide support to each year?

Last year we did the photo finish service for 29 races including all the Scottish Championships and series races such as Super Six and Vets & Women’s series.We also did the British Men’s and Women’s Road Race Championships and the Tour of Britain.

So far this year we have 28 bookings.

As a volunteer, why do you choose to do this job?

I had been chief judge at all the local races in Fife, including the Tour of the Kingdom for a number of years so when SC advertised in 2002 for volunteers to learn how to use the new digital system it seemed a natural thing to get involved with.

What training did you undertake to become a photo-finish operator?

I attended a 1 day course run by Susan and John Walker held in the car park at Meadowbank Velodrome.

Have there been any unusual incidents that have happened to you while supporting Scottish races?

The most unusual incident was a couple of years ago at the Lake APR’s in Balfon when the Men’s race finished before all the riders in the Women’s race had finished which caused a few problems. We could not find one of the women on the film but found a rider with a pony tail whose number was obscured so assumed it must be the missing lady. However, it turned out that the lady was a DNF and the pony tail belonged to a guy.

What are the main challenges in carrying out photo-finish?

That all important image! Velo Ecosse rider Matt Macdonald caught with his hands aloft by the photo finish team

The main challenges are coping with sudden changes in the weather which play havoc with the camera settings, and also persuading riders to pin their numbers in the right places.

What have been the highlights in carrying out this role?

The highlights have to be the British RR Championships and the Tour of Britain last year and also providing a “back-up” service at the World Duathlon Championships held in Edinburgh a couple of years ago.

You are a veteran of several Davie Bell road races now – do you have any special recollections of our event?

Yes, the good weather for the last couple of years and at last year’s event, Vic Possee with his shovel and wheelbarrow full of rubble filling in a big pothole in the middle of the finishing straight in Straiton.

What equipment will you be using on June 10th?

I use a digital camera which sits on the finish line plus a small video camera which sits a few metres before the line which films the rear of the riders to help identify riders whose numbers are not visible from the side. Both cameras are synchronised and connect to a Laptop where their pictures can be displayed on a split screen.

What advice or encouragement do you have for anyone who would like to become a photo finish operator?

Get in touch with me by email and be prepared to give up some of your cycling time to trailing round the country and working in all weathers. And by the way get paid (expenses) for it.

Thanks Bill and Sandy – we couldn’t do it without you!   28 bookings…  twenty-eight… that’s four solid weeks of events?  remarkable!

Behind the Scenes: The Fundraiser’s Tale

We launch our ‘Behind the Scenes’ series of interviews to celebrate the fantastic people who help put on the South Carrick David Bell Memorial.  Road races don’t just happen, they require a lot of committed volunteers willing to put in a lot of preparation.  Over the next few months we aim to bring you their tales, including everyone from the chief commissaire to the hall cleaner!

Tour de France fan Cat, ready to bake!

To coincide with the announcement of our mission to raise £5,000 for charity, we start with Catriona Johnson, a fundraiser for MS Society Scotland.


Catriona, what is your link to the South Carrick David Bell Memorial?
My brother, Christopher Johnson, is the race organiser.  Cycling has always been important in our family –  growing up, our house was always full of bikes and as a child our family holidays included being taken to see stages of the Tour de France on more than one occasion!
Why is raising money for MS Society Scotland important to you?
I was diagnosed with MS at 21.  In the 4 years since my diagnosis it has changed my life dramatically and has affected not only me but those people close to me.  More than 100,000 people in the UK are affected by MS and currently there is no cure, but research is progressing fast.  Every penny raised for the MS Society Scotland goes towards funding either this crucial research or towards providing invaluable support to people, like myself, who have MS.
Tell us about living with MS?
For the most part, I live what is termed a ‘normal life’! I am currently a student, studying full-time towards a degree, I love spending time with family and friends and I do pretty much everything your average 20-something does – I enjoy life!  However, it’s the smaller things which are more difficult, due to associated problems with my balance, sensation and mobility simple things like going for a walk, climbing stairs and, probably the most apt, riding a bike become a huge and sometimes impossible challenge.
What does the MS Society Scotland do?
Scotland has one of the highest incidences of MS in the world and the MS Society Scotland make it their mission to beat it. They raise awareness of MS, make it a priority at political level and provide support and information to people affected by MS around the country.
What can the cycling community do to help?
Cyclists can get involved in the fundraising action by asking people to sponsor them to complete the Highwayman Challenge – the 100km Audax running the day before the South Carrick David Bell Memorial.  The Highwayman Challenge has its very own JustGiving page! – It’s a fantastic way to raise money for a very deserving cause!

Highwayman Challenge riders will visit the Bell Memorial - seen here just after its completion in 1966

What will you be doing to help at the South Carrick David Bell Memorial and its support event, the Highwayman Challenge?
First and foremost, I will be there cheering on everybody who takes part! I will also be dishing out some very tasty snacks (I’d better get practising my baking!) and generally just soaking up the atmosphere of what is set to be a fantastic weekend of cycling!
We would like to thank Catriona for lending her time and passion to the cause, and encourage you to join us with our fundraising effort!  Pledge your donation now at our justgiving site.
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!
As well as the MS Society Scotland, we will also be fundraising to support South Carrick Community Leisure – more later!