Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Kingscavil hill climb report

A West Lothian hill was turned into Scotland's version of the Tour de France's King of the Mountains stage.

The notoriously steep Kingscavil hill was the scene of a hill climb hosted by West Lothian Clarion, and which attracted a field of 38 riders, some putting in final preparation for next weekends National Hill Climb champs in Fife.

The race was the club's first open event and competitors travelled from as far afield as Lancashire and the Scottish Borders - and one of only two bike events to take place on a closed road in Scotland this year. To close the road, permission had to be granted by West Lothian Council.

The riders were encouraged by an enthusiastic crowd, complete with bells, horns, whistles, banners and cheers. To add to the festival feel, each rider was piped across the line by Linlithgow bagpiper, Jim Crawford.

Organiser, Bill Young, from Torphichen, said: "It was great to see such a big turn out from spectators and competitors, it felt like West Lothian's version of the Tour de France. There was a great atmosphere on the course and it was a real family event with kids to grandparents watching and making a lot of noise to cheer the riders on."

The closed road, funded by tourist agency VisitWestLothian, was fully appreciated by the riders and spectators and helped to make the event unique in Scotland. Added Young: "I'd like to thank VisitWestLothian for generously paying for the event and West Lothian Council for agreeing to the road closure; many participants commented on how the closure made the event special and have already signed up for next year."

The winner of the men's event was David Martin from Edinburgh's Bicycle Works team in a time of 2 minutes 16 seconds. He said: "Thanks for a well-organised event. It was good to race on a closed road; not something we get to do very often. There also seemed to be more spectators than you would usually find at a Scottish hill climb, so thanks to them for the encouragement. As for the hill, it's horrible and always has been. I think I started a bit fast and was struggling a bit over the top, but it's always hard to get such a short effort right."

Said Michelle Gregory, the winner of the women's event in a lung-busting time of 3.59: "I thoroughly enjoyed the morning. The closed road, support of the crowd and the piper all made for a great atmosphere. That, along with the time trail style start, made me go all out at the start and I almost had nothing left for the steepest parts of the climb. I don't think my heart monitor has never read so high before. My first impression of West Lothian Clarion is of a very organised and welcoming club. I will be back again next year and hope to see plenty of women competing."

As a thankyou to local residents, West Lothian Clarion posted individual letters of appreciation though the letterboxes of all the neighbouring houses. The club would also like to thank Commissaire Alex McCulley and Time keepers Jimmy Harris, Alex Keys, Arthur Mcann and Graham Foster and all the volunteers who helped out.

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