48th David Bell Memorial Race – Results

Oliphant wins his 3rd edition!

When Team Raleigh’s Evan Oliphant signed on in Girvan this morning, few would have bet against him to take the win.  However, who would have predicted it would be after a 14 man sprint up South Park Avenue after 81miles of racing including six categorised climbs?

Riders sign on at Girvan HQ

Riders sign on at Girvan HQ

Oliphant was as pleased as he was relieved after just pipping Herbalife – LeisureLakesBikes .com’s Andrew Hawdon, with Scott McCrossan in third.  Ironically, despite the reputation of the event for its tough parcours, Oliphant cited his experience of racing crits as the factor behind the win.  “I knew from racing the evening criterium in the Girvan 3 Day that whoever led round the last corner would not win – it is too far out.  I held on as late as possible.”

Not until Hawdow congratulated Oliphant were we able to confirm who the winner was

Not until Hawdow congratulated Oliphant were we able to confirm who the winner was

The 48th edition of the David Bell Memorial kicked off at 11am with a ceremonial lap of Victory Park before the peloton rolled out of Girvan onto the main coast road and the racing commenced.  The event was the climax of the Ayrshire Alps Cycling Festival, promoted by Ayr Roads CC and supported by South Ayrshire Council.DSC_0226

A number of riders tried to get clear on the run down to Lendalfoot, including Mark Stewart of ASL360.  All were shut down by Oliphant who explained he didn’t want a break to get away before the climb of Carleton in case it led to a long chase.  Coming at just 7 miles, the steep opening pitches of Carleton forced a split in the group as 15 riders lost contact.  Oliphant and Team IG Sigma Sport’s Ben Greenwood summited first, but with over 70 miles to race decided not to press the advantage.

The second prime of the day at the Screws saw Oliphant take maximum points again ahead of Hawdon and Greenwood.  Under a deluge of rain, David Lines made a daring solo bid, gaining more than 30 seconds on the bunch when the race passed through Girvan for the first of four laps of a touch fourteen mile circuit around the Byne and Tormitchel.  Oliphant secured his victory in the King of the Mountains with a top three finish on the first passage of the Byne.

Oliphant consolidates his lead in the DigitalMyWay.com KOM competition on the Screws.

Oliphant consolidates his lead in the DigitalMyWay.com KOM competition on the Screws.

A lap later and Lines advantage had been cut to less that 15 seconds.  A block headwind climbing the Byne neutralised attacks from the pack behind, but also made for a lonely race for out front.  Paisley Velo’s Peter Murdoch bridged over to Lines on the third run through Girvan, and the two managed to extend their lead to maximum 58 seconds.

But come the bell lap it was all back together, with everyone expecting fireworks on the last lap.  Realising their best chance lay in a setting up a sprint finish for Hawdon, Herbalife – Leisure Lakes Bikes.com neutralised the digs on the final passage of the Byne and it was a group of 14 that entered Girvan for the finishing circuit of Victory Park.  A late move by two riders caused some brief nerves in the group, but on the final bend it was grouppo compacto and the assembled crowd were treated to a nail-biting sprint finish.

Crosswinds on the Byne led to mini echelons

Crosswinds on the Byne led to mini echelons

Twenty-eight riders in total completed the 48th edition of the race run under ever-changing weather conditions and over the challenging hill roads of the Ayrshire Alps cycle park area.

Andrew Sinclair of South Carrick Community Leisure was on-hand to present the winners with their trophies, and gifts from event sponsors William Grant’s & Sons.

The podium

The podium

Race winner Evan Oliphant thanked the organisers and community for another great race, and remarked ‘just one more’, referring to the wins he needs in the event to match David Millar’s record of four.

“It was a hard race.  I average 275 watts over the event, which is higher than I have been doing in the Premier Calendars, but at the same time the course clearly wasn’t as hard as everyone was suggesting as that was a straight sprint at the end.  I can’t remember the last time I contested a sprint like that to settle a Scottish race.”

When asked about his three victories, Oliphant joked “I shouldn’t have let (then teammate) Ross Creber win in 2009 or i’d have done it already!”  Oliphant lines up for the Tour of Britain next month, and will be targetting stage wins.

Runner up Andrew Hawdon explained there was some confusion in his team as to the finishing position, catching up lead out man Martin Ford.  “This was definitely one of the races I was targeting this season.  Its been a successful day for the team, but i’m obviously disappointed to have been beaten by such a small margin”.

The race was the climax of the Ayrshire Alps Cycling Festival, a weekend of cycling promoted by Ayr Roads Cycling Club.  As well as the Davie Bell the club promoted the Highwayman Audax over 200km and 100km, and the SCCL Youth Criteriums.

1 Evan Oliphant Team Raleigh 03:27:51
2 Andrew Hawdon Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes .com same time
3 Scott McCrossan Rock to Roll Cycles Ltd same time
4 Ben Greenwood Team IG Sigma Sport same time
5 Martin Ford Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes .com same time
6 Alastair McCauley Phoenix CC same time
7 Andrew Whitehall Equipe Velo Ecosse/ Montpelliers same time
8 Bradley Stokes Pedal Power RT same time
9 Stuart McCluskey www. Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk same time
10 Steven Lawley TheBicycleWorks .com same time
11 Collin Humphrey Achieve – Skinnergate Racing same time
12 Jamie Kennedy Paisley Velo Race Team same time
13 Mark Stewart Team ASL360 same time
14 Alex Coutts Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes .com same time
15 Gary Jeffers East Tyrone Cycling Club at 6:17
16 Peter Murdoch Paisley Velo Race Team at 7:08
17 Richard McDonald Equipe Velo Ecosse/ Montpelliers at 7:45
18 Greig Brown www. Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk same time
19 Robert Friel Private same time
20 David Lines MG Maxifuel Pro Cycling at 7:53
21 Ian Taylor Ciclocostablanca .com at 9:23
22 Sean Gordon Team Thomsons Cycles at 11:07
23 John Brown Private at 11:18
24 Daniel McShane Glasgow Road Club at 11:21
25 Stephen Russell East Kilbride Road Club at 11:27
26 Gary Hand Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes .com same time
27 Keith Laird Team Thomsons Cycles at 15:55
28 Chris Smart Paisley Velo Race Team at 18:37
Savoy Park Under 23
Scott McCrossan Rock to Roll Cycles Ltd
Digital My Way King of the Mountains
Evan Oliphant Team Raleigh
First 3rd Cat
Sean Gordon Team Thomsons Cycles
Oliphant addresses the crowd beside organiser Chris Johnson

Oliphant addresses the crowd beside organiser Chris Johnson


1st Highwayman Challenge a success

Gordon Sykes of Girvan (and support team)
“This is my first bike event, next i’m doing the Loch to Loch to raise more money. The scenery here is wonderful “

Kevin Nicol, Barry Cunningham and Jamie Horne of the William Grants & Sons team

A great day out was had in Girvan today for the very first Highwayman Challenge Audax.  100 riders got around all the checkpoints with ample time to spare having ‘soaked’ up the great Ayrshire atmosphere as they trialled the roads of the 47th South Carrick David Bell Memorial Race.

Anyway, no point in us telling you about, here is the participant view!

the promoting club Ayr Roads CC at the finish

Magnus and Julie Gardham of Glasgow
“What a great ride! The climb [Tairlaw] was dramatic in the low mist, visibility was especially low for a spectacle wearer though!”

Sam Wakeling of Ayr
“I’ve ridden more than 100k before, but this is the furthest i’ve been in a while. Its been so much more fun than a normal day ride with lots of other people about. The steep S-bend by Barr proved too much, but otherwise I rode it all. Next stop is the World Unicycle Champs in Italy!

The magnificent spread put on by Joanne Clark and Marie Johnson-Gobert – over the weekend they’ll be catering for over 300 people!

Drew Agnew with his fantastic campag equipped Raleigh – this ain’t no collectors piece – he used to commute on it daily, and the components all come from former race bikes. Drew picked up our Retro-Bike trophy for matching the bike with old club colours!

What a way to celebrate her 40th Birthday! Lynne Wardrop of Dalrymple proudly wore her birthday badge around the whole circuit

More to follow later, but for now we must get on with final preparations for the South Carrick David Bell Memorial!

List of finishers

Brian Adams Glasgow
Andrew Agnew Kilmarnock
David Allen Prestwick
Kenneth Balfour Ballantrae
Richard Barnes Kirkintilloch
Joe Baxter Newton Stewart
John-Paul Baxter Troon
David Beattie Lynwood
Greg Bowie Prestwick
Brian Boyd Maybole
Heather Brown Crosshouse
Derek Brown Glasgow
David Campbell Giffnock
Steven Clark Calderwood
Joanne Clark Onchan
Edward Clifron Ayr
Sarah-Jane Coleby Kirkcowan
Peter Connelly Dailly
Tommy Connelly Girvan
Alan Connor Prestwick
Derek Connor Malbrough
Gary Cree Monkton
Barrie Cunningham Girvan
Dave Currie Newton Stewart
Beth Currie Newton Stewart
Gary Currie Troon
Barry Dawson Girvan
Allan Dewar Maidens
Ian Donnelly Lanark
Michael Dougall Glasgow
Stephen Dunn Prestwick
Ross Dymock Airdrie
Arthur Eggleton Annan
Claire Eldred Creetown
Brian Ferguson Newton Stewart
Peter Ferrier Prestwick
Michael Fletcher Aberdeen
Peter Forsythe Dunlop
David Fulton Girvan
James Galloway Girvan
Julie Gardham Glasgow
Magnus Gardham Glasgow
Alan Gaskin Dunlop
Paul Gibson Ayr
Graeme Guthrie Ayr
Brian Harrison Newton Stewart
Iain Henry Linlithgow
Gary Higgins Dailly
Jamie Horne Girvan
Lawrie Johnston Cherrybank
David Kaminski Troon
Phillip Kelly Crosshouse
Scott Kerr Dundonald
Fraser Law Edinburgh
Alan Littlejohn Ayr
Catherine Logan Irvine
Euan Lothian Maidens
Robert Love Girvan
Scott Lucas Girvan
Ross Lyall Ayr
Kenny MacKay Maybole
Stefan Marion Liverpool
Alan McAulay Larkhall
Alexander McDonnell Kilkerran
Billy McDowall Ayr
Paul McGhee Ayr
Allan McGibbon Prestwick
Alastair McGibbon Prestwick
Euan McGregar Girvan
Stuart McLean Stewarton
Alan Mooney Ayr
Russell Mowat Irvine
Sandy Muir Stewarton
Andrew Napier Ayr
Kevin Nicol Girvan
David Palmer Glasgow
Paul Rae Girvan
Paul Rae Girvan
James Reid Glasgow
Colin Reily Ayr
Bruce Ritchie Chryston
Michael Robb Straiton
Bales Rogerson Annan
Paul Ross Girvan
Daniel Scobie Dailly
David Sherlock Kilmarnock
Ian Smith Duns
Adam Stevens Troon
Gordon Sykes Girvan
Paul Torrance Dailly
David Torrance Dailly
Will Tyler Glasgow
Sam Wakeling Ayr
Steven Walsh Glasgow
Lynne Wardrop Dalrymple
Chris Wilkinson Skelmersdale
Richard Williams Newton Stewart
Adrian Willshaw Preston
Martin Young Glasgow


Main Race Preview

We are delighted to have secured the strongest line up in the history of the South Carrick David Bell Memorial.  Felix English heads a full Rapha-Condor-Sharp team against Ben Greenwoods’ Vanillabikes.com team and Robbie Hassan’s Herbalife Leisure Lakes squad in our 100mile event this Sunday.

The action kicks off in Girvan at 11am, where local school children will wave the riders off after a ceremonial lap of the Victory Park criterium circuit.  100 miles of classic Ayrshire terrain, including the ascents of Nic O Balloch, Glenalla, and the Screws serve as a main course before two nail-bitting laps of the Byne to please the spectators.

South Carrick schoolchildren are ready to embrace the race!

The Davie Bell is a classic of the Scottish racing calendar – with a list of illustrious winners including Robert Millar, Jason MacIntyre, Evan Oliphant and outgoing champion James McCallum of Rapha Condor Sharp.  For 2012 we were delighted to secure National A Status thanks to the backing of a host of local sponsors, including South Ayrshire Council and South Carrick Community Leisure.

A real buzz has surrounded the build up to the race, with former winners describing their victories, local children creating the event artwork, and amatuer riders taking to their bikes as part of the new supporting event, the 100km Highwayman Challenge Audax.


Rapha Condor Sharp will be hoping to make it two in a row, with a team fresh from the Ras.  We spoke with rider / mentor James McCallum last night to share his memories of winning last year, and to evaluate this year’s field.

James – you’ve just climbed off your bike after the Colchester Tour Series, how was it?

Brutal – I managed to avoid the crash and all that jazz, but it’s a long series, with a lot of travel, and the level is higher than ever.  We’re keen to consolidate our 2nd place in the team standings and try and make in-roads on Endura.  All going well.

As a crit specialist you’ll be racing the Smithfield Nocture this Saturday, so won’t be able to defend your Davie Bell crown

Its a shame, I want to be home and to be there.  The Davie Bell is now the biggest day race in Scotland and I’ve great memories of winning.  I loved the atmosphere of the race especially the romanticism of the off-road sections [last year’s editions featured 16km of unsealed forest road]

James picks his line across the unsealed Carrick Forest Drive in 2011

You’ve become a bit of a specialist in the Roubaix-esque races

I had a great ride at the Rutland CiCle event, getting third.  But I should have got second.  In fact, I wanted the win, but of course!  Its different to the Davie Bell, with different sectors all the time, and 200 riders trying to do the same thing.

And for Sunday, who do you think is likely to win?

Richard Handley (Rapha-Condor-Sharp teammate).   He’s fresh from the Ras – just posted a 3hr 40min 100 time; he’s not hanging about.  All the guys who’ve been at the Ras will be chapping at the door, they’re in their element.  It’s the ultimate prep, I know how it benefitted me last year.  It’s a great opportunity for the young guys in the team like Felix…  We’ll keep the race in the Rapha house!

Rapha Condor Sharp have an impressive line up of young developing riders, all ‘fresh’ from the An Post Ras

And the others?

Guys like Ben Greenwood (Vanillabikes .com) are going to be up against it – he’s got real grinta but no Ras!  He’ll need to get away on his own to pull it off.

Robbie Hassan?  You’ve got to make sure you don’t take him to the finish.  He’ll be a factor!  But at the same time, he’s been on a heavy Tour Series programme.  He’s young but it will take its toll on him.

Pedal Power Endura Forme will probably admit themselves that their season has been sluggish, but Gary Hand is wise and knows how to play his cards.

I’m out the loop with most the Scottish riders, but Evan Oliphant (Raleigh GAC) and I were discussing how the racing in Scotland is definitely changing – there’s more info and knowledge now.  The gap between and Scotland and England is getting smaller.

Your favourite Davie Bell memory?

Ripping down Tairlaw with over a minute spare – I couldn’t believe it when the commissaire confirmed it.  It was emotional to be on my own in the final ks thinking about stuff.  It was also great to dedicate the win to my wife’s grandfather who had just died.  I almost never win away on my own, it was really special.

Clear road behind, time to prepare, and an emotional signal to departed loved ones. James was the king of the Strada Grigio in 2011

And if we get Premier Calendar status for 2013 you’ll be back?

Definitely – but you need to bring back the gravel!

And with that James signed off, but not before betting £200 on Richard Handley to take the win.  We’ll need a witness to that, so get down to Girvan on Sunday to see for yourself!

As for the gravel?  All of us are disappointed not to be going there in 2012.  Race promoters Ayr Roads CC and the Forestry Commission are are already in discussions to ensure more gravel adventures in 2013.

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!

FWS 1997: Richard Moore

Our Former Winner Series continues this week with an interview with best selling author, journalist and Sky Sports blogger Richard Moore.  Wikipedia record a rather interesting tales of Richard getting chucked off the Ras in 1996 for hanging onto a car aerial and spending the rest of the week in a team car flirting with journalism… Fortunately the transition to becoming a full time writer was gradual otherwise we would never have had the pleasure of interviewing our 1997 David Bell Memorial winner.

What do you mean you haven't read it? Click the picture and buy it NOW!

Richard, first up, we are on the offensive.  In your rather splendid book ‘In Search Of Robert Millar’ you somehow failed to include mention of 18yr old Robert’s stunning 1977 win in our event – favouring instead mention of a 5th place in the Girvan, and an Ayrshire APR.  Your excuses please!

No excuses, only apologies. I can only think that, in my mind, the Girvan was a more significant race [fair comment, historically! – ed]. But to win such a tough race as the David Bell at 18 is exceptional (though Robert Millar managed quite a few exceptional performances), and it should probably have been mentioned… in my defence, I didn’t want to list every race he’d won/performed well in. I had to be quite selective.
Twenty years later it would be you who stepped onto the podium as winner of the 1997 David Bell – what do you remember of this event?
I remember less of this race than I should. It’s very strange how you remember some races really vividly, even minor ones – and I certainly have far clearer memories of races that I really suffered in. I could talk you through every metre of those races… I do remember that 97 was my best year, and so this was one of several memorable results, if not performances.
I didn’t know the race that well, though I knew the roads from the Girvan. I think I finished 7th in the Girvan that year: the first time I was really climbing with the leaders on the Nic O’Balloch and Tairlaw – proper mountains as far as I was concerned. I’d done two things the previous winter: started following a training programme faxed to my dad’s office every week by Roddy Riddle; and lost a lot of weight. I really felt like a different rider. Winning the David Bell (or “The Davie Bell” as everyone knew it) came in the midst of that breakthrough season for me, which is probably why I recall so few details of the actual race. Weirdly, I think I remember that it was in late July, maybe the 29th? (I used to memorise the calendar in the SCU handbook)… I have a hazy memory of approaching the finish in a break of 4 riders, and having a club-mate, Graham Moore, there. I think it was Graham! He was no relation but we both rode for Sandy Wallace that year… and he was really strong but couldn’t sprint, so he helped me a bit at the finish, riding on the front and leading it out a bit (though we were hardly HTC-Highroad).
I remember winning the sprint quite comfortably but can’t remember who I beat. I think Neil Cameron might have been in the break as well…? “Myra” would have been the big threat. And maybe Gary Paterson? If Gary was there, I would have felt quite confident. Gary was no sprinter. I remember when he won the Sam Robinson Memorial the following year, from a break of me, Brian Smith and Drew Wilson – all team-mates. Brian had to push him across the line and Drew had to put his brakes on not to beat him.

Richard, 3rd from left, in the Scottish team for the 1998 PruTour

At the time, Graeme Herd was newly appointed as Scotland manager and tasked with picking the 98 Commonwealth Games team.  Was winning the Bell as stepping stone in securing the spot on the team?

Actually, no, though of course it was great for the confidence. But in terms of the Commonwealth Games, it was the dawn of a new era, when results in Scottish races were considered meaningless. You had to get results in Premier Calendar races. My big goal was to go to the Commonwealth Games, but the selection criteria were quite clear, which I appreciated. You knew what you had to do. I think you had to win a Premier Calendar or finish top six in four events, or something like that. It was the first Commonwealth Games where the team was picked that way.
You raced in a classic era of Scottish cycling with the Riddle brothers, Gary Paterson, Jim Gladwell, Graham Moore, and an emergent Jason McIntyre.  Many friendships remain, but what was the rivalry like at the time?
When I started I thought the previous era had been classic, but maybe you always think like that. There were some other good riders as well – Andy Young, Andy Matheson, Willie Gibb, Neil Brown… I’m still friends with most – the Riddles and Gary especially – and really enjoy seeing some of them at the Braveheart dinner. I also see Andy Young a bit – he lives near London, where I live. And how could we forget Julian Coia! He’s a tube driver in London and I caught up with him recently. We were juniors together and he was really talented – maybe too talented. I think it came too easy to him when he was a junior and he struggled when he turned senior and started getting the odd kicking – something that was normal to most of us.

Jason McIntyre had his best years after I stopped in 99. But I remember meeting him for the first time while on holiday in Ardnamurchan. There was an advert in the Fort William swimming pool for the local chaingang – this must have been about 1992 or 93 or something. I went out on this chaingang and there was Jason, and he was strong, but it was another couple of years before I started seeing him at races.

Up against Willie Gibb and Drew Wilson in the 1997 crit champs (Drew would win)

In 1998 you lined up in the PruTour as part of the Scottish team managed by our 1977 winner Millar.  Did you get the chance to exchange Scottish racing stories?

If I’d known I was going to write a book about him I’d have tried to get some more information out of him. He was quiet. Very nice and encouraging, though he realised that we weren’t going to do much in the race and so didn’t expect too much out of us (linking to the earlier comment about vividly remembering races in which I suffered: I can remember every second of that PruTour…). He tended to contribute occasionally to the conversation at the dinner table, but only with some really dry, frequently dark, observation or quip.

The Scotland team in the 98 PruTour was managed by our 1977 winner, Robert Millar.

As a journalist you are still closely connected to the sport.  When you look at the Scottish cycling do you see changes now from when you raced?
 Well I live in London now so have lost touch a bit with Scottish racing. But I look at some of the results, or the start sheets, and cannot believe the sizes of the fields. There seems to be an explosion of interest, which is great. And there are a lot of people not racing, but still cycling pretty seriously in sportives and so on. I hope there are ‘pathways’ from those events into road racing, because I always felt that road racing was pretty intimidating, especially for someone who comes to cycling a bit later. I was glad I started racing when I was 13, because I didn’t really think about it. But I can see why people would be nervous about entering their first road race.
It’s funny that we talk about the 90s or 80s as classic eras, because fields back then were often very small. I don’t know much about the standard of races these days. I do think that the sport has suffered in lots of ways from the ‘death’ of the club run. It was on club runs that you made friends and learned how to ride in a bunch and ‘wheel about’, which simulated racing. I could be wrong but I think for a lot of people cycling’s become a more solitary activity, whereas for me it was a group activity – and so much more enjoyable (and educational) for that.
The 2012 South Carrick David Bell route has now been published – where do you see the race being won and lost?
Haven’t a clue!  But I do note that, like in 97, the Nic O’Balloch comes pretty early on. As they say, it’s not where the race is won, but it can be lost there.
Finally, can you tell us a bit about the bike you were using in 1997 when you won the race?
Oh god! It was a Reynolds 853 frame made by Paul Donohue, a framebuilder in England.  Sandy Wallace gave me it. I only raced with it for a few months because it arrived mid-season, and then I joined Brian Smith’s new team, and rode a Raleigh 853 in 98. I never really knew much about bikes, to be honest. But I think my favourite, ever, was a cheap Shogun alloy frame that I raced on in 96, then kept riding around town until it was eventually stolen in about 2003. I’ve got a carbon Cervelo now with Dura-Ace bits and all mod-cons. Best bike I’ve ever had, slowest I’ve ever ridden.

Thanks again to Richard for taking time out to share his memories of road racing in Scotland and for access to his photos.  Who knows, perhaps Richard may well be writing the biography of this years winner somewhere down the line!  Keep up to date with Richard’s current work at his personal website: http://richardmoore.co/