I didn’t make it up to the Phil Young memorial race this year, work got in the way. I need to get my values sorted out.

I should put the memory of a friend before commercial activity, but when you are under client pressure to get a job finished, it is difficult. Phil had his priorities right, though: “the bike” was number one, and everything else was organised around that.

I saw Phil at races for years before I got to know him properly. Small, tanned, dapper and smiling, he was one of the few people who could get a small bike looking well proportioned and he looked good on his always-immaculate machines.

Phil never had anything but the best kit. He would be an all-carbon man nowadays for sure, and his bikes were invariably in perfect working order. There was never a ‘sticky’ back brake on a Phil Young bicycle.

As I said, cycling really was his life and he would despair of me chasing around daft in pursuit of the ‘almighty dollar’. I understand better now Phil. For him work had its place but money was just a tool to buy Campag and fund trips to his beloved Mallorca. That said, if a job was to be done then it had to done to the highest standard.

Phil Young
Phil on one of his own immaculate machines.

Those infamous words which many tradesmen use: “we’ll get away with that” we’re never uttered by Phil Young.

He was a generous man; with his possessions and with his time. His house went like a fair; he’d be rubbing legs, there would be guys weight training, someone would have popped-in to borrow his good 28 spokers. It would be difficult to find a house like that now.

One year Phil had briefed his men that he wanted a jersey to hang-up in the hall – overall, sprints, mountains, anything as long it was a jersey. One of the lads brought a jersey back – trouble was, it was a Pringle he’d won in the Hawick road race; Phil loved banter like that.

And if you needed a man to take care of you through a hundred which started at some un-Godly hour at Westferry then Phil was your man.

When I first knew him he was in the Velo Sportiv, he joined the Modena around the same time as his protege, Finlay Gentleman. It was as if Phil had always been a part of things. His quick wit was always to the fore at club meets and on club runs woe betide you if your bike had frayed cable ends or a noisy transmission. He would rib you mercilessly.

One of his favourite runs was around Loch Leven. He would put the bike in the van, drive over and meet me at my work at Kinross. He would always half-wheel me up the climb out of Scotlandwell.

That the GS Modena should use that circuit was very appropriate; it’s just a shame that those dreaded “traffic conditions” meant a move to straighter, more easily marshalled roads.

Next year I’ll work on those priorities and get myself back up there to remember the “wee man.”