Cyclists gear up for Broxburn's first Battle of The Bing

MORE than 100 cyclists will go down the foxhole, through the chaser and face the terror of hamburger hill this weekend in what has been dubbed the 'Battle of the Bing'.

Saturday, 28th July 2018, 6:00 am
Organiser George Stewart  rides the course before the big day. Picture: Neil Hanna
Organiser George Stewart rides the course before the big day. Picture: Neil Hanna

A new cyclocross track has been created in the shadow of West Lothian’s shale bings at Broxburn, and all participants will face a daunting route of twists and turns, trees and undoubted tumbles.

The event – which could become an annual one – has been organised by amateur cyclocross competitor George Stewart, 44, and his long-time friend 39-year-old James McCallum – a former professional racing cyclist who competed for Scotland in three Commonwealth Games.

A pre-season event for 
cyclocross, Sunday’s race will also see current British champion Grant Ferguson take part.

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Organiser George Stewart rides the course before the big day with Noah White (almost 2) and Ellie Gordon (9). Picture: Neil Hanna

“Cyclocross is basically cross country cycling – cycling with obstacles,” said George, a facilities manager at Moredun Scientific. “I’ve been doing it since I was a teenager, in fact James and I have been racing against each other since then.

“The season is normally October to February but my wife said to me why do you always do it in terrible freezing weather? So James and I spoke about doing a race when it was warmer.

“We knew Ahren White at Broxburn United Sports Club and they were keen to do something to promote more cycling. They have been brilliant at helping us organise what will be a fantastic day – and so 12 weeks later it’s all happening.

“People can use mountain bikes or road bikes – the latter is better as they’re lighter and there are times when they have to be carried.”

The course is just 1.5km and the aim is to complete as many laps as possible – the winner being the cyclist who completes the most.

James, 39, added: “The course is challenging but it should be a lot of fun and the riders will have 40 minutes to see how many laps they can complete.

“It’s also great for spectators as the route is short and because of the obstacles you’re probably going about ten to 15mph, so not incredibly fast. And there are a number of points to watch – so you see a lot of the race. Not like a road race where they zoom past once and that’s it.

“We like spectators to bring cowbells or pots and wooden spoons and create a lot of noise as the riders go past to keep them going. It’s all very family friendly.”

There are also races for children, even for those who just use balance bikes, in a bid to attract youngsters to the sport.

“We’ve got more than 100 entries already to the adult races – children can just pitch up on the day with their bike and helmet – and entries are still open,” said George. “The course runs along canal path, through woods, across a BMX course – which is where I think a few who are a bit more gallus will take a tumble – and of course there’s hamburger hill, which is fairly terrifying steep descent. I’d imagine some might just walk the bike down it. There’s a bit of everything really.”

The event which will run from 11am to 4pm, will be broadcast live via the Battle of the Bing Facebook page.