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The Tour de Trossachs: when the alarm blasts at 06:30 on a Sunday morning the question is; ‘do I really have to go all the way to Aberfoyle?’ But once you’re breathing that sweet fern scented air on The Duke’s Pass then driving along lovely Loch Achray side you remember why you love this race. Great history, wonderful scenery, a course which challenges your abilities as a bike rider. So why do entries drop every year?
Chris Smart (GTR) made it a hat trick of wins in the classic Tour de Trossachs 2017 time trial over 24.5 beautiful but demanding miles on a calm, mild and dry autumn Sunday morning, adding to his 2014 and 2015 victories - the race was cancelled last year due to roadworks.
It’s hard to believe that since I started cycling in 1971 nearly four minutes have been hacked off the Scottish 10 mile time trial record; when I started it stood at 22 minutes and 14 seconds: 1971 P.Templeton (Dundee Thistle R.C.) 22 mins 14 secs. It now stands at 18 minutes and 38 seconds thanks to that man John Archibald (Pro Vision) - a time he achieved this morning on the fast dual carriageway tarmac beside the River Clyde at Westferry.
A 19 minute two-up ‘10’ in February, a solo 19 minute ‘10’ in March, Gifford, The Gordon Arms, The Tour of the North and now The Tour of the Meldons incorporating the Scottish National ‘Olympic’ Time Trial Title – that John Archibald (ProVision) laddie is on fire; better have a word...
On a cool but dry and benign morning around the beautiful lochs and hills above Aberfoyle and Callander it was Paisley Velo Race Team's Scottish ‘Olympic’ Time Trial Champion Chris Smart who defended his title as 'King of the Trossachs' despite being 21 seconds down to former Tour de Trossachs Tartar, Arthur Doyle (www.Dooleys-Cycles.co.uk) at the top of the Dukes Pass.
It's not everyday we get emails from Time Trial Royalty, so when BBAR and 100 mile time trial legend Ian Cammish tells us; "Hi, just been involved in a brief exchange of emails with a guy from Moray Firth CC - Callum Finlayson. He's just won the Scottish 100 champs with the 2nd fastest time EVER in Scotland. Got a pretty good story to tell too ... suffered a Stroke a few years ago!"
Silas Golsdworthy put the disappointment of not being part of the Scottish Commonwealth Games team firmly behind him by taking victory in the country's 50 Mile Time Trial Championship today with a stunning 1:43:48, the second fastest 50 miles ever ridden in Scotland and only 45 seconds off Graeme Obree's 21 year old record.
It was 11:20 am on Thursday September 5th 2013 on the A91 road between Gateside and Strathmiglo when we lost Ali Speed. He was just 49 years-old, out on his bike and doing what he loved when he was snatched away. Ali rode his first race at just 12 years-old and was racing just days before he died. VeloVeritas ran an obituary for Ali at the time of his death and it goes without saying that we had to attend the 50 mile time trial his sister Mhairi organised in his honour on behalf of Fife Cycling Association. We thought that rather than straight race reportage – albeit not ignoring Iain Grant’s (Dooleys) dazzling 1:47 to win – we’d drive most of the course and look at the roads and places Ali trained and raced on.
Raleigh professional Evan Oliphant handled the age old dilemma of the pro racing against amateurs – if they don’t win they’re criticised, but if they do then it’s ‘expected’ – by taking the best option and winning the Gala CC’s Gordon Arms Hilly Time Trial over 20.5 cold and cloudy Borders miles in 50:06; some ways short of Mark Atkinson’s (Velo Ecosse) 1999 course record of 48:47 but enough to give him the result by 41 seconds over Carl Donaldson (GS Metro).
A man who’s been moving steadily up the standings this year, against the watch and on the track, is Sandy Wallace Cycles’ Silas Goldsworthy – we thought we should have a word.
On a grey, damp but mild and fast Sunday morning on the roads around Blairdrummond near Stirling, Dooleys' Ian Grant added the '25' title to the '50' with a fine 52:26; besting Sandy Wallace's Silas Goldsworthy - whose fight back over the closing miles hauled back a 17 second deficit on Grant down to six at the line. Last year's '50' champion Alan Thomson, took another medal for Sandy Wallace with bronze in 53:09. The event was not without controversy, however.
Although the start sheet for the Tour de Trossachs is still to be finalised, it's looking to be a very interesting race - the field has been extended to accommodate 140 because the race is proving to be popular with riders of all abilities, and sees National Champions and World Champions taking part, as well as newcomers interested in trying out this classic course. Arthur Doyle (Dooleys RT) will defend his title for the third time, but the big question is will he manage to beat both the hill climb and course record set by Jason McIntyre in 2007...
Alan Thomson (Glasgow Couriers) was run pretty close by his teammate Barry McGurk for the win in the Gordon Arms Trophy, a hilly time trial run by the Gala CC near Melrose in the Scottish borders. With Euan Pope backing them up in fourth place, the team prize was never going anywhere else.
VeloVeritas missed the 100 Champs again-we're not men enough to disappear to the Tour for two weekends then vanish to Invergordon at 04:00 the first Sunday we're back. We thought it would just be a case of ringing Jim Cusick in a Highland Hostelry somewhere to discuss his win-but Ian Black (Sandy Wallace Cycles) had other ideas. We spoke to 46 year-old Forres joiner Ian, as he prepared to head off on a well deserved holiday on Monday morning.
Off no.45, Michael Nicolson (Dooleys RT) never looked like being beaten in today's Scottish 50 Mile TT champs, but a but a clutch of riders faught it our for the minor placings in the mens competition, whilst Jessica Wilson -Young (Edinburgh RC) took a comfortable win in the women's race.
Ali Watt (Granite City RT) broke his own Course Record on the 2 lap 19.5ml Deeside Thistle Hilly TT on Thurs 24th May, only to be thwarted by a flying Ray Wilson (Dunfermline CC) who was over a half minute faster. A cool, dull evening with intermittent showers meant that Course Records weren't really on most folks' cards beforehand.