Charlie Macleod, Johnstone Jets chose a tough second-ever road race: the Youth Tour of Scotland

Thursday, 7th May, 2015


The Youth Tour of Scotland was only my second race ever, my first race had been a criterium in Bellahouston Park, so I had gone from my racing debut of riding round in circles in Bellahouston to riding in one of the biggest events on the youth racing calendar. In at the deep end eh?

I was extremely nervous going into the Youth tour of Scotland, not only was it my second race ever but I had been ill the week leading up to it and had missed some training I had wanted to do. However, just had to get on with it.

Stage 1 was a 60km road race around Forteviot. This was the stage I had hoped to do well in as I am usually quite good over longer distances. But alas, it wasn't to be. On the start line I was in the middle of the field of 80, a good position to be in as it meant I wasn't starting from the back where I couldn't see what was going on at the head of the race. However, in the neutralised section, with adrenaline and nerves running high amongst every rider, there was a crash right in front of me, bringing me to a halt. The rest of the bunch whizzed past and I was straight out the back. Just my luck. The commissaires then brought the race to a halt further down the road, but by this point I was starting from the back of the bunch, meaning that going through corners would tire me out because everyone in front of me would be accelerating to stick with the bunch, and as the last man through I would have to accelerate hardest. Once the race had started again, I managed to stick with the bunch most of the way through the first lap, despite tiring myself out on corners. But alas, I was dropped from the group on the third climb. After the climb I began chasing to get back on, and kept the group in sight for the next few laps, but after chasing solo I was ready to burst. One of the coaches in the race support car pulled up and told me to stop chasing and save my energy for when the bunch came back round. So I did, and when the bunch came back round, I hopped on the back for half a lap, and bang, another crash right in front of me. I swerved to avoid the rider on the ground, but had lost all my speed and the bunch was gone. That was to be the way of it for me for the first stage, going round solo for a few laps, the bunch going past and me hanging on for half a lap or so, and eventually getting dropped. At times I felt like giving up, but then realised that there were riders who had been lapped a few more times than me and weren't giving up so I couldn't.

Stages 2 and 3 were criteriums held in Perth city centre, we would race for 45 mins and then for a further 4 laps. The day before I had slowly felt my legs returning to me after being off the bike ill, and was hoping to do better today than I had done on stage 1.

At the start of the race I was gridded at the back because of my result on stage 1. Again this meant that I would probably tire myself out on the corners and if there were crashes I would get held up behind them, and on a tight, intricate course with a field of 80 riders, there were plenty of crashes. Luckily though, neither myself or my teammates were involved in any of them. My teammate even managed to get on the podium after a well timed attack in the last lap to come third place. Chapeau.

Stage 3 was then held in the afternoon and it was the exact same as stage 2, and I was gridded at the back again. However I was more confident going into this race as the morning stage had taught me a lot about riding in a fast bunch, going through corners, how to move up etc. And I was doing better than I had on stage 2 until there was another crash. This one looked sore. I was in the second group and two riders were attacking off the front. From what I could see they were sprinting with their heads down and their bars collided. Three riders came down, and one slid and hit a car on the side of the course. The riders were spread out across the road, so we had to slow right down to get past them. The next lap they still weren't getting up so the whole race was called to a stop. In the end they were taken to hospital and wouldn't be starting the next day. The general classification would stay as it was.

Stage 4 was a 40km kermesse around the grounds of Strathallan School. This was my favourite stage. The road surface was terrible, the pace was fast and there was a big climb. What could be better? The usual routine by this point, I was gridded at the back, and within the first quarter of a lap, I was held up behind two crashes. So, back to chasing it was.

Despite not my best performance due to many factors, the Youth Tour of Scotland is a race I will always remember. My first big race ever, and a huge learning curve, it was a great experience on the bike and off the bike, I'm really glad to have been given the opportunity to ride it, and I'm sure it will stand me in good stead for many races to come.



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