Shimna Wheelers take part in Gralloch World Series Gravel Race

Two Shimna Wheelers, Sam and Deon McNeilly, took part in a World Series Gravel race held in Scotland on Saturday 20th May, the event called the Gralloch was one of 16 qualifying races being held all over the world. The top 25 precent qualify for the world championships being held in Italy in October. The race started in Gatehouse of Fleet village with a course of over 70 miles and 6000 feet of climbing on forest gravel roads.

With 1000 cyclists entered from all over the world, the standard was very high, just making the cut-off times would be challenge for a lot of cyclists. Gravel racing is unique in cycling as it is one of few races where professionals and amateurs complete together. The men’s race was won by Connor Swift, in 3 hours 15 minutes, while the women’s by Tiffany Cromwell in 3 hours 57 minutes both are among world’s top ranked road professionals.

Unlike road racing no outside help is allowed, so just finishing can be a challenge, demonstrated by Olympic Gold Medallist Triathlete Alistair Brownlee, who was with the leaders for the first half of the race before crashing and then puncturing, coming home in 208th position in a time of 4 hours 14 minutes.

Sam finished 15th in her category, 567th place overall, despite having to stop to fix a broken spoke. While Deon managed 17th and 425th overall.

The race very well organised event, helped by excellent conditions, not too warm with light winds and no rain. Both Shimna riders missed out in qualifying for Italy this year but now know what they need to focus on for next year, Sam already has a new set of wheels on order.