Archie Speed

It’s with great sadness that VeloVeritas records the passing of one of the cornerstones of Fife time trialling; Archibald Speed – better known as ‘Archie.’

A doubly sad situation in light of the fact that it’s only a matter of weeks since we penned our tribute to his son Alistair, the victim of a fatal rear-end impact from a Vauxhall Corsa on the Strathmiglo road, whilst out for a run on his bike.

Like Alistair, Archie was a member of the Fife Century Road Club; originally you had to be able to ride 100 miles in the day to join the club – no problem to Archie.

Archie was a veteran when I started cycling back in 1971 and in the ensuing 40 years didn’t seem to me to look any different than he had at the Fife Schoolboys’ Road Race Championship all those decades ago.

The chuckle, the banter, the twinkling eyes, the grey wire wool hair and the fixed gear – he seemed immortal.

However, at Alistair’s funeral he understandably looked very fragile.

Dave Henderson and I paid our respects and resolved that we’d need to pop in to see him in a week or two – alas, that won’t happen now.

Archie was from a different era, a time when a man like him thought nothing of riding out to a ‘100,’ riding his race, going on the club run then heading out to the night shift at the pit.

Whilst testers like me would try to pick our quick ‘100’ carefully so we only had to ride one, Archie would think nothing of riding four or five in the season – he once told me that they represented the best value when it came to entry fees.

I smiled and nodded – but kept riding my ‘10’s and ‘25’s.

Any tribute to Archie has to have anecdotes; my favourite recent one was the time when the young doctor who had just been checking him out explained that the capacity of his lungs was disappointing for a man who cycled so much.

Lungs?’ Archie responded, ‘I’ve only got the one, son!

And it was indeed true that the man who holds the Scottish Veterans 24 hour record – and probably always will – had but one lung.

Someone will no doubt email in and explain to us how that came about.

And there was the time that Davie Henderson was nursing a bad early Sunday morning hangover at Balfarg on the main Kirkcaldy to Dundee road and wondering whether the clubbie run was a good idea – maybe a bottle or two of Irn Bru would be a better idea?

At which point, Archie hove into view, south-bound.

Where have you been?’ enquired Davie.

Well, I was out off the night shift and was going to go round by Crianlarich – but then decided just to go round by Crieff.’

Archie Speed, mile eater, time trial record holder, miner, event organiser, raconteur… we’ll miss you, Sir.

In closing, VeloVeritas would like to extend heartfelt sympathies to his friends, club mates and his family.