Next weekend we celebrate ten years at Glengorm, for Cross at the Castle. It’s a special race for me; not only is it my ‘homegame’, it’s also were I properly caught the ‘cross bug in 2009. This year I’ll be back, with a MAJESTIC of #unicrois to celebrate then end of the SCX Series and a decade of ‘cross vibes on Mull. I caught up with Davie Graham (Velo Club Moulin), our glorious leader and fellow Muileach, for a scoop on the two-day on Mull.
Davie, ten years since the advent of YouTube, the Motorolo Razor, Sven’s first Elite CX World Championship win and the first edition of Cross at the Castle. I am pumped to get back to Mull for my homegame. The double race weekend at Glengorm Castle with SCX6 on the Saturday, a big feed & ceilidh Saturday night and then the Santa CX Worlds on the Sunday. This weekend has got to be the most anticipated ‘cross-tuneups of the Scottish calendar. Are you excited too?
There is always that nervous anticipation about it. So many things to go wrong, weather is the main one, that pesky ferry! Over the years we have had to battle some pretty horrendous conditions. We have had to dig our way in due to the snow, cut our way in due to trees down and fumble our way in due to no power but have always managed to get the event going due to everyone mucking in and giving a hand. So to answer the question, yes I am excited about it.
Since I started getting into cross in 2009 I’ve seen the sport boom in popularity, can you remind us what the first Cross at the Castle was like, any photies?
The first year of Cross at the Castle had about twenty entrants which wasn’t too bad considering it was from a small base, there were only about fifty people riding ‘cross then. Everyone rode for an hour, no separate age categories. Quite a bit different course on the Saturday that year, but the Sunday course has evolved slowly into what it is today.
Was it always a double weekend in December combined with the Santa CX Worlds or has it evolved into that over the years?
It has always been a double header, we decided to make it more cost effective for those that travelled, it was quite a bit of money before RET* for just one race. The Santa CX World Championships was instigated by Steven Turbitt and again has evolved into the great spectacle it is today.
Will you be riding this year?
I always plan and race every year but it sometimes doesn’t happen due to other commitments on the day and how tired I’m feeling but I’m certainly hoping to.
As an organiser myself I try and get as many of the ‘cross features as I can; run-ups, off-cambers, deep-mud, single-track, foot-down, barriers. I would love a wee set of stairs and maybe a drop of sand to tick all the boxes (There is a 102 step stair case in RGP but I think that would see the death of RGCX). Is there anything you’d love to have at Cross at the Castle?
With the Glengorm course I’d quite like to try and get a set of stairs in it, I’ve thought about a flatbed trailer with steps up and a slope off it but it hasn’t quite happened, yet!
Fancy dress for the Sunday’s Santa CX Worlds is strongly encouraged, what’s the best outfit(s) you’ve seen over the years?
The costumes have evolved over the years into something pretty special. Steven Turbitt’s custom made Santa skinsuit, Michael Martin’s excellent beard with flashing lights on his bike but I think the highlight was the year I was commentating and had to say that the Christmas tree was catching the pudding. Everyone gets into the spirit of it and it is what makes Cross at the Castle the world’s most sociable cyclocross event.
For the heathens that have never been over for the Mull weekend can you describe what the event/course/venue is like?
It’s the competitors who make the Event on mull, they come with the sole intention of having a great weekend with some great racing thrown in. The courses are mixed with tarmac, a brutal run up and lots of mud usually but it has been super dry and a bit frozen. Tom at Glengorm Castle has been an absolute star, sponsoring the event and letting us rip up his grass for the last nine years. The cafe has a very good menu and Gail and her staff try and get the coffees and food out as fast as possible.
*RET (road equivalent tariff) for the uninitiated, recently came to Mull. Basically the car ferry ticket prices have been slashed from £89rtn to £26rtn for the Oban – Craignure journey. Book your ferries here.
Thanks to Davie Graham for taking the time to talk to me, see you next week pal.