Obituaries, part of the deal if you write about cycling – Peter Post, Jocelyn Lovell, Fedor Den Hertog, Rudi Altig, Raymond Delisle … Check their palmarès, think about when you saw them race when you were a boy then put a piece together. But when it’s someone you knew, liked, laughed with, there’s more to it than that – the randomness of life; one minute a friend is there and happy with a whole life to look forward to, the next, he’s gone. A car crash involving a lorry and Ben Abrahams, and here I am writing this.
I have good memories of the man – calm, polite, cheerful and good company.
But I enlisted his friends and team mates from his Velo Ecosse days to get a broader insight.
Evan Oliphant raced with Ben ‘back in the day’ before the Wick man turned professional.
Ben came up to university in Edinburgh from Somerset and had done a few triathlons, so he started to go out with the Edinburgh ‘chain gang’ where Evan got to know him and suggested he join the Velo Ecosse team.
In those colours Ben would go on to take a bronze medal in the Scottish Road Race Championship, gold in several Scottish Team Time Trial Championships and win the Hill Climb Championship in 2008.
Evan told me that despite the fact that Ben could win the Scottish Hill Climb championship, he was a man that liked his grub.
One of the benchmark runs that team manager used to put his boys on was ‘The Talla’ a tough 100 mile jag around the Scottish Borders over Glen Talla.
Ben used to do that run frequently – but not on a Sunday; his favourite pie shop was shut on a Sunday.
And then there were the runs from Edinburgh to Newcastle and back to see his girlfriend – always with a stop at the burger van on the border…
I also learned from Evan that Ben used to be one of those crazy guys who pilots a ‘pedicab‘ around town.
For those who’ve not seen one, they’re Edinburgh’s answer to rickshaws.
I’m not sure what the deal is now but the last time I spoke to a ‘pilot’ he had to make £90 just to break even – that sum being what the hire of the machine and insurance cost.
I’ve probably sworn at him from the van window as he swerved across to pick up a fare, without knowing who it was.
Evan also explained that sometimes his ‘pedicabbing’ would come straight after a Wednesday afternoon Talla run.
A line on Ben’s palmares which Evan didn’t mention was the ‘Cannonball Cup’ where, on the last chain gang of the year, before the clocks change, all participants chip in a quid and ‘winner takes all’ at the 30 MPH sign.
Ben added this prestigious honour to his successes – no doubt spurred by the contribution the dosh
would make to his always precarious student budget.
In terms of racing he’s perhaps best remembered for his win in the Scottish Hill Climb Championship.
Arthur Doyle was hot favourite but on a ‘roadman’s course’ near Dunning, it was Ben who triumphed, having trained for it on the tough Auchendinny road to a programme set by Gregor.
After he finished university there was a cycle touring trip to South America then a longer stay in Australia where he worked with the CyclingNews website.
I remember being really jealous of a piece he wrote about the special friction reducing compounds the Aussie team pursuit squad used on their chains and fixed sprockets – just the sort of anorak stuff I love.
Latterly Ben was working in the petro-chemicals industry in Aberdeen, happily married with two young children.
Ben Abrahams, Scottish Champion, husband, father, and ‘one of the boys’. Rest in peace, we’ll miss you.