Naturally the Male and Female Rider of the Year accolades draw the most attention, but the reaction from the 25 strong contingent from Elgin, on being announced as Club of the Year, was undoubtedly the highlight of a wonderful evening. I think everyone in the room could share in the joy of what it meant to them to be recognised in this way, as Club Chair, Lorna Breetzke explained afterwards:
“This is massive, I’m nae gonna lie! We came here last year for the same award, and we obviously didn’t win, and we left, regrouped, and this past year the club has grown even more and we’ve done much more. We’ve had lots more new members, the [gender] split in the membership is amazing at 50:50 and we’ve worked really hard for this – I still can’t believe it.”
The Female Rider of the Year, presented by Pedal Power, who supported the day by offering up a £3000 bike voucher as our top raffle prize, went the way of Jenny Holl, just reward for the five medals and three rainbow jerseys she won at the summer’s UCI Cycling World Championships.
The former Stirling Bike Club member, turned champion pilot on the tandem alongside Sophie Unwin, commented:
“This year, I couldn’t have asked for anymore really. I’ve had an amazing year, but the other women on the shortlist – to be up against Katie and Neah, and to have Anna Shackley not even on the shortlist but winning the Breakthrough Award – it’s such a list of riders that to be even on the list with them is an honour, never mind winning it!”
On the combined programme of able-bodied and para riders on the track, she noted:
“It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I did ride the Commonwealth Games last year, but Glasgow took it to another level. Loads of people have come up to me and said they’ve never seen para-cycling before and they love it see it, and they thought the tandems were the best bit – naturally I agree – it was amazing for us and it’s something I’d love to see again in the future.”
On the men’s side U23 World XC MTB champion Charlie Aldridge was a popular and deserving winner after his triumph at Glentress, handling the pressure of being home favourite to send the crowd wild. The Crieff man has a bright future ahead of him in the elite ranks, and speaking after collecting his trophy, said:
“This is great. I’ve had a super good year and this is just the cherry on the top. I won the Braveheart Trophy a few years back, so this is another progression on my way up, so it’s just great.
“Winning the World title at home was an unreal feeling – definitely the highlight of my racing career so far – I still can’t really process it, it just means so much to me, I just can’t describe it. To race in the woods in Glentress with all those people shouting my name – it was such a big goal so to pull it off felt so, so good.”
It was a great night for Stirling Bike Club, with Jenny, Charlie and Talent Coach of the Year recipient, Archie Johnstone coming through the club. Archie was another popular winner, having given up so much of his time over the last few decades – his current work with Edinburgh Road Club and the Scottish Cycling Performance Pathway making a monumental difference to the development of the next generation of stars.
There was a brilliant cross discipline spread on the night, with nominees from all corners of Scotland, and it was Pete Bentley, the man who had travelled furthest to be there, who collected the Community Coach of the Year gong, his work with Orkney CC, largely in the cyclocross fields, rewarded.
Another individual to receive a wonderful reception was Kenny Steele, another ever-present who single handedly contributes so much to the track scene, through his work with Johnstone Jets, the Scottish Cycling pathway, and as event organiser, this year adding the Inter-Regionals to a growing list. He was crowned Volunteer of the Year.
Event of the Year went the way of the Scottish Schools Mountain Bike Championships, delivered by Morrison’s Academy and Comrie Croft, a wonderful partnership, whilst Clyde Cycle Park took home the Recreational Cycling Award, their work cutting across so many facets of the sport despite the venue still being in it’s infancy.
Last but not least was the Breakthrough Rider of the Year award, which comes in the form of the Braveheart Trophy, won in 2023 by Anna Shackley, thanks to her World U23 bronze and European U23 silver on the roads.
Many will be familiar with the Braveheart Cycling Fund, this year seeing an official handover with that fund now sitting under the auspices of the Scottish Cycling Foundation. A raffle on the night saw some £2,000 raised, that will go towards supporting the next generation of cycling stars.
The Scottish Cycling Awards capped a great day, where the community came together at Crieff Hydro for our annual conference, AGM and evening celebrations. With over 100 delegates attending the conference, and 200 people donning their posh frocks and kilts in the evening, it was the perfect way to cap a stunning year. A big thank you to Digby Brown, without whom the day would not have been possible, and to Pedal Power for supporting the Awards in the evening.