On Tuesday morning we awoke to the sad news that North of Scotland stalwart, Ivor Reid had died at just 57 years-of-age.
I wasn’t privileged to call Ivor a close personal friend but I knew the man for a long time; from the early 80’s and when we met there was always a warm hand shake and some good chat.
When I saw pictures of him racing as a ‘Master’ on the track I always had to smile; the gear was always the best and right up to the minute – be it aero helmets, ‘keirin’ gloves, wheels, shoes, his enthusiasm and love for all things track cycling shone from those images.
Here at VeloVeritas we thought it may be nice to hear what those close to him thought of the man, and we start with our Editor, Martin Williamson who raced alongside Ivor in countless track meetings and road races up and down the country:
“Ivor’s loss is so so sad, it will be deeply felt across the cycling community, anyone who met or knew Ivor will have felt his genuine care and empathy. Hugely dependable and knowledgeable, he did so much for the sport he loved in his coaching capacity with the Scotland team, and as a rider he was a real force – particularly when he reached Masters level.
“I will never forget Ivor’s Tuesday after-work ‘mad breenges’ down from Inverness in his Porsche, to get to Meadowbank velodrome for a weekly Track League 7pm start, his ability to build his bike up out the back of his car in a minute and rip our legs off in the first race – often a whole-field team pursuit – with no warm-up.
“On the frequent occasions that rain delayed or forced us to abandon the Track League, I was always impressed that Ivor displayed no frustration or disappointment, I never saw him deviate from his default setting of “always smiling, always having fun”, despite a three hour round trip for nothing.
“Not so long ago I bumped into Ivor and Elaine on the beach in Puerto Pollença, Mallorca and Ivor greeted me like a long-lost brother, delighted to see me and Gillian, big bear hugs and handshakes, and he was happy to spend hours catching up. He was a true people person; he genuinely loved to be around folk, particularly cyclists.
“We’ll miss Ivor so much, and send all our thoughts to Elaine, their family and friends.”
* * *
Through the tears, Olympic medalist, World and Commonwealth Champion Craig Maclean sent us this message:
“From the very first race I did to the last, Ivor was omnipotent both physically and with me mentally too – I learned much from the great man.
“A wonderful friend and great craic, I’ll miss picking up the phone to his understanding ear and perspective.
“His legacy is the passion he had for racing and the impact he had on everyone he met, such was his warm, friendly nature.”
* * *
One of those closest to Ivor was rapid short distance time trial star and fellow Masters track man, Peter Ettles:
“My first memories of Ivor are when we raced a road race together as schoolboys up at Inverness. It was on the piece of dual carriageway that leads on to the Kessock Bridge on the north side. But the bridge wasn’t actually built at the time. I think he won that day, a habit he got very used to.
“We raced quite a few times after that as youngsters but the inevitable happened and we drifted away from the sport a bit. Something to do with ladies and alcohol I believe.
Ivor didn’t stay away from the bike for too long though; he was working as an apprentice mechanic and had bought a flat in inverness, which was great but the only problem was he couldn’t afford to put the heating on in the winter so during the weekends there was only one solution to this – four and five hour runs on the bike to get the heat up.
“So Ivor was back on the bike, and that was the way it remained for many years; even managing to sneak in the Tour of the Kingdom into his honeymoon when he married Elaine. I think it’s fair to say that this was not going to be the last cycle race Elaine would be attending.
“Ivor raced with, helped, mentored, and coached many riders during what was a very long and very successful cycling career.
“Ivor’s real passion though was track cycling and when I came back to the bike we truly battered that A9 south, in the days before the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome was built; with trips to Meadowbank, Manchester, and Newport for training and racing – these trips were always eventful…
“I remember on one particular campaign on the run up to the World Masters in Manchester we were getting pretty fed up with going down to Meadowbank every weekend only to be rained off so the plan was hatched to do a few weekends going up and down to Manchester Velodrome.
“We would leave inverness on a Friday night after work in Ivor’s trusty Audi A4, or as I liked to refer to it ‘Apollo 4’, as anyone who has sat next to Ivor knows, the loon liked to drive a bit. In fact if he hadn’t taken up cycling I reckon he could have given Schumacher a run for his money in Formula One.
“My main job on the trip was to look out for the speed cops which can be quite tricky with your eyes shut, needless to say I think a few penalty points were gathered up on these trips.
“Once we got to Manchester we would check-in to one of the city’s classier hotels like the Diamond Lodge or Travelodge; always insisting on getting a ground floor room wherever possible as stairs would be impossible on our return from the track.
“We would book on to any sessions we could and scrounge our way on to others; both on Saturdays and Sundays just to get the training done.
“Sometimes we didn’t leave Manchester ’til after 10:00 pm on the Sunday, getting home by 3:30 or 4:00 am then up for work later on the Monday morning.
“Looking back now I really don’t know how much we benefitted from these trips as far as fitness goes because we spent most of the rest of the week shattered.
“I wouldn’t change any of it though; great times with a great friend. RIP Ivor Reid.”
* * *
One of many riders to benefit from Ivan’s mentoring and coaching was multiple track champion at Elite National, European and World Masters level, Janet Birkmyre:
“I could talk forever about just how humble and generous he was, and how incredibly privileged I feel to have known him as a friend.
“When he offered to help me in a coaching capacity the qualities I already knew him for became even more obvious and he leaves me, like so many, feeling sad and bereft – we should have had so much more time with him.
“Personally, I spent hours, day after day, cycling round Mallorca with him and yet still feel there are so many conversations we did not finish and then there is his wonderful wife, Elaine, who was so much a part of the team…
“It is impossible to find the words to express the sadness I, like many others in the cycling community, feel after hearing the news that Ivor Reid passed away on Monday.
“Ivor was one of the most modest people I have met in cycling, he quietly and very professionally got on with his racing and won a World Masters title, along with a number of World Masters, National Masters and elite medals – he was a racer through and through and that much is common knowledge.
“What is perhaps less well known is the huge number of riders who he has helped along the way, from his time as Scotland’s Track Cycling Manager in the lead up to the most successful Commonwealth Games to date in Melbourne in 2006 to the individual riders he worked with, quietly helping them realise their ambition and never taking the lime light.
“He is the very epitome of an unsung hero and he will leave a gaping hole in the lives of many, none more so than his amazing wife, Elaine, who was very much a part of everything he did on and off the bike.”
* * *
Commonwealth Games medallist and former British Criterium Champion, James McCallum had this to say:
“The loss of Ivor has left a huge hole in my life. A larger than life character who was one of the most selfless and dependable people I’ve ever had the pleasure to call a friend.
“Not only that but he was a fierce competitor as many who have rubbed shoulders with him will attest to. But it goes deeper than that; Ivor was at my side through many of my cycling career high but more importantly for the lows.
“He had an uncanny ability to really understand me as a person as well as an athlete and always knew exactly what I really needed to hear. Be that positive or negative, his honesty and genuine intent were never in doubt.
“He never ever asked anything in return and was 100% dedicated to helping anyone who looked in trouble or just needed an arm around their shoulder.
“He has left behind a legacy that only those who knew can appreciate.
“The foundation and life blood of many if not all of Scotland’s best track riders and fundamental to their success and legacy. Ivor was a Concrete Constant in cycling; passionate, reliable, loving, and generous.
“I’m honoured to call him a true friend, mentor and fellow cyclist.
“You’re missed more than you will ever know big man. Keep smiling.”
* * *
Member of the famous McGinty Clan and a man I always found it tough to beat in a 10 mile TT, Graeme McGinty was another with fond remembrances of Mr. Reid:
“Where to start? I guess the beginning is a good place although I don’t really remember the first time I met Ivor; being born into it, cycling has been my whole life and Ivor seems to have always been there in my cycling world.
“A constant, ever-smiling, ever-enthusiastic, ever-passionate friend who just loved everything bikes and cycling – and of course Porsche.
“I still remember that grin on Ivor’s face when he turned up at a track meeting having figured out how to combine the two passions and fit a track bike into the boot (or is it bonnet?) of his 911.
“It seemed Ivor and I followed a similar racing calendar most years, perhaps because we both disliked going up hills or overly long road races, so would meet up most weekends around the country and it was always an easy meeting.
“The annual pilgrimage to Stuart’s wonderful Caird Park 15km champs meeting and the days at the highland games along with Iain Campbell are particularly strong memories.
“Although the three of us never rode in the same jersey, it felt like we were part of the same club. It was never discussed but there always seemed to be an understanding between us if we couldn’t win we would, where possible, try and help one of the other two out.
“Good times indeed.
“That easy way you can have with good, if distant, friends continued long past my racing days and whenever I bumped into Ivor and Elaine it was like we had just met yesterday, despite it sometimes being years.
“This has been difficult to write because of the circumstances but at the same time easy as every memory I have involving Ivor is a happy one.
“Always there to offer advice and help to others and bringing fun and laughter to a wet and windy day in the bunch or while hiding from the rain under the Meadowbank track, you will be sadly missed by the cycling world but remembered forever.”
* * *
Former Scottish Hour Record holder, Girvan stage winner and fellow Highlander, Roddy Riddle knew Ivor for much of his life:
“Ivor was a huge character who made a big impression on everyone he met and will be sadly missed, not just by the cycling community but everyone whose hearts he touched.
“I have some amazing memories of holidays with Ivor, Elaine and Lynn my wife both pre-season cycling training camps and post season relaxing breaks.
“Ivor was one of the main reasons I broke Graeme OBree’s Scottish hour record in 1995.
“He travelled twice each week with me to Meadowbank velodrome for numerous weeks leading up to it, standing trackside doing time checks, giving me his full support and the confidence that breaking the record could be achieved.
“We’re probably the only two people who have ridden around Meadowbank velodrome the wrong way completely naked, why I have no idea but it seemed right at the time.
“Nothing was ever a bother for Ivor and he was known as someone who you could rely on when you needed him.
“This is a very sad time and my thoughts go out to his childhood sweetheart and wife Elaine, his family and friends.”
* * *
Euan Gunn is another man of the North who we asked for a few words:
“Ivor was a true gent, he always had a smile which was truly infectious.
“He always took his time to speak to everyone; whether talking cycling or cars, his favourite Porsches in some cases.
“I know people say this sometimes lightly about other people but Ivor was one of the anchors for cycling in the Highlands in the 80’s – and then following on to the international stage.
“Ivor always shone the light for Scottish cycling; somehow this light will struggle to shine as bright without him.”
* * *
And from another Masters track – and time trial stalwart, he was Scottish 12 Hour Champion (remember those?) ‘back in the day’ – Sandy Wallace:
“Firstly I must admit that I haven’t the talent to do a tribute that will do Ivor proper justice, he was such a remarkable man in so many aspects.
“I was so privileged to have him as a friend.
“The thing I’ll remember most about him was that he always happy and seemed to light up whatever company he was in.
“Elaine was always by his side, the two of them laughing, joking and cheering everyone up.
“He was so well liked, he had time for everyone regardless of ability and I doubt if there will ever be anyone on the track scene who was as popular as he was.
“He was a talented rider and an even more talented coach, he helped numerous riders achieve their goals.
“Without him I wouldn’t have won my two British Masters Championships and my British and European medals; following his tactical advice I regularly beat better riders.
“Ivor was generous to a fault; a typical example being how he lent Silas and Kyle his best Mavic discs in their quests for Commonwealth Games selection.
“Ivor will be sorely missed and the velodrome will not be the same without him.”
* * *
Former Worlds track performer and Commonwealth Games medallist, Marco Librizzi was another fiend of Ivor’s, someone he describes as; ‘The big man with the big smile’:
“Ivor had a commitment to track cycling like few others; he could be seen at Meadowbank velodrome on a Tuesday evening track league, having driven at breakneck speed from Inverness after work.
“He would finish the races, pack the car and drive back to Inverness and still be home before midnight.
“We used to wonder just how he managed to get from Manchester to Inverness as quickly as the rest of us drove home to Edinburgh… something to do with his vintage 911 and his love for speed.
“Ivor went to three Commonwealth Games as a coach (1998, 2002, 2006) and I was lucky enough to be at the latter two with him.
“He would give up his own holiday time from work to come to the Games to guide us and make sure we only needed to think about racing our bikes.
“When we won races he was a cross between an excited child and a proud father. Jumping for joy with clenched his fists and growling through clenched teeth.
“Elaine was never far away, making sure Ivor was fed, watered and ready to race or help the other riders.
“I’m sure that sometimes Elaine was bored out of her mind, but her willingness to be with Ivor and share in all the experiences was obvious.
“They were inseparable.
“When Ivor raced you could not tell if he was just ‘winding up’ or riding flat-out, this confused many competitors and they often fell foul to thinking he was already at top speed when in fact he had another kick left in him.
“Ivor was a lover of all thing bike tech, always having to have the very best of kit and clothing. He often pushed the boundaries of taste though, wearing a white skinsuit in his 40’s proved a step too far for many!
“My memories of Ivor will be with me always. RIP Ivor.”
* * *
And finally some words from Velo Ecosse bike shop owner and long-time friend of Ivor’s, Gregor Russell:
“My first encounter with Ivor was early in the ‘86 season, I’d started working in the bike industry the year before and had started training properly through the winter for the first time.
“I was keen to put my ‘form’ to the test and headed up to Forres as I knew it was a flattish course (suited to my physique).
“At the finish I jumped the seven or eight riders with me and went clear – and always conscious I should sprint through the line I kept up the pressure.
“However as I approached the line still going a full pelt a flash came past my left shoulder and crossed the line half a wheel ahead of me – it was Ivor.
“To be honest at the time I was delighted with second as it was my first ever ‘result’.
“As the years progressed I discovered we had a lot of mutual friends and I often saw him at races or at Meadowbank velodrome and he would often pop into the shop when he was in Edinburgh.
“As everyone who met him knew, he was a true gentleman both on and off the bike.
“Another encounter was when I first rode the Tour of the Kingdom, Ivor had just got married and the race was the start of his honeymoon. Elaine was along supporting him round the race before they headed away somewhere a bit more exotic than Glenrothes.
“He completed the race and despite all those Fife hills not suiting him, he was still smiling at the final dinner held after the event.
“An inspirational man and definitely one of the ‘Good Guys’, he will be remembered fondly and missed in big way. RIP Ivor.”
* * *
With thanks to all who contributed.
And Euan Gunn informs us:
For those that wish to attend Mr Ivor Reid’s funeral it will be held from 10:30 on Saturday the 30th June at the crematorium in Inverness and afterwards at the Lochardil Hotel.
* * *
REST IN PEACE, Ivor.