It’s with much sadness that VeloVeritas has to report the passing of another young man who’s life hadn’t really begun. Just days after Ben Abrahams was taken from us, Dougie Young has gone too.
We hadn’t been in touch with Dougie for a while but thought you may like to see what he said to us back in 2010 when it was all in front of him, when he was setting off to race in Belgium and once he returned from his kermis campaign.
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We spoke to Dougie’s friend and mentor, former top roadman Callum Gough, he had this to say:
“Dougie was a talented and enthusiastic guy. He wrote to me in his early 20s or could have been late teens asking if he could come and stay in the Belgian apartment [which Callum owns in Oudenaarde, ed.]
“He arrived full of enthusiasm and quickly adapted to the Flemish way of life.
“He never complained always looking at his own faults and how to improve, never blaming others.
“Sometimes he would ride an hour to the race eating his pre-race food in a bus shelter on the way. Then race maybe 120K without assistance just eating and drinking what he could carry. Then ride back sometimes in the dark often on his own or in company with other guys who were staying.
“He would cook his food and head to bed or chat with the rest of the guys sharing stories about the races they had been riding.
“He was very popular with everyone who visited the flat and I know that back home in Scotland he was a popular character on the local cycling scene.
“Nobody had a bad word about Dougie.
“He liked a beer as well and on rest days would enjoy an Enamme Blonde in the square watching the world go by.
“It’s a sad loss to the cycling community and an even bigger loss to his family and close friends.
“He will be greatly missed.”
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Mountain biker Rab Wardell was a close friend of Dougie’s:
“My first memories of Dougie are of a shy junior bike rider from Stirling Bike Club.
“He would attend Scottish Cycling coaching sessions at Meadowbank Velodrome and Ingliston race circuit. He was helped by Mark Young, and I would coach at the sessions, as well as ride on the track with riders.
“Dougie would often ride to Meadowbank from Alloa with his club mate Niall Johnstone, and although quiet he was always willing to listen and learn.
“I remember riding in mock races on the track with Dougie… he was instantly recognisable as a bike rider with class; tall, slim and rangy with a smooth pedal stroke and good bike handling. He also impressed me when he beat me in some of the bunch races!
“A wry smile was all he showed. Always modest and shy at sessions. He let his legs do the talking.
“He only started racing as a junior as far as I know. Another time he impressed was at the support race at the Scottish Championship in Hawick during the Sunday Criterium. He took on a number of the Scottish Junior Squad riders and won solo.
“Straight from this race he joined these riders and represented Scotland at the Junior Tour of Ireland. He suffered his way through the race and finished. Which was quite an accomplishment for such an inexperienced rider.
“In the months after this Dougie enrolled in University in Glasgow, around the same time I moved there. We were practically neighbours living South of the Clyde.
“As Dougie moved from juniors into the senior ranks, I was also planning to return to UK and International racing. It made sense that we became training buddies and that October I remember taking on a 75 mile ride into deepest, darkest Ayrshire in awful weather.
“I suffered for the last half of the ride, while Dougie looked at me as if to say “what’s wrong with you?” He put me in the box that day, and many more times over that winter. We were joined on these rides by Dean Martin as well, another young rider who had moved to Glasgow.
“At this time Dougie was still pretty shy, and I think he was aware that I worked alongside his coach Mark Young. He didn’t give much away, and I think he was surprised when I asked him if he wanted to join me for a beer in Glasgow.
“He had been fooled by the illusion that bike racers didn’t drink, or have fun. He joined me for a beer and his guard came down pretty fast – it turned out he knew his way around a pint of Stella.
“The first night out resulted in a 03:00 am foray to the Art School just off of Sauchiehall Street. It was all going well until we were queuing for food in Subway after our night out. We were both craving a meatball sub to hit the spot after a long night. To my disbelief he ordered two foot-long meatball subs and finished off the last of the meatballs in the shop leaving me nothing. He ate them both – turns out he knew his was around a sandwich too.
“Dougie applied himself to his Uni. and his bike riding well that year. He joined the Glasgow Wheelers cycling club and made great friends with Keith Smith, Graeme Neagle and Kristof Aksnes to name a few.
“We would often train together during the week and were a couple of the first riders to start up the Southside Chaingang. We would also get together for a beer, and talk about more than cycling, watching comedy on TV or listening to daft music like Elton John.
“He had a wicked sense of humour, and Keith would often be the victim of some of his pranks and jokes. He and Keith were inseparable.
“One of the funniest memories was that when Dougie stayed with Keith he would flick through his training diaries, kept in the spare room he slept in. He would remember the small details and daft things written about diet, fatigue or disappointment in failing to hit a certain mileage, and then recite the details to us all in the pub while impersonating Keith. This was almost as hilarious for us as it was frustrating for Keith!
“In 2010 I joined Dougie and Keith at the Glasgow Wheelers along with Dave Smith who had not long returned from a strong career racing in France. Dave slotted into our bike riding/beer drinking gang perfectly and over the winter we helped turn the group of young, keen bike riders into racers.
“Dave and I were often there to give the boys a bollocking for riding too hard, or not hard enough. We spent the winter riding early in the mornings on Saturday and Sunday, and socialising late at night over dinner, drinks and dance floors. It was some of the best times of my life and during that winter we set our sights for the season… we wanted to take on the newly formed Endura Racing Team.
“We had an amazing season training together and having a great laugh. We were successful as well, with Dave, Robbie Hassan and the rest of the boys taking the scalps of the Endura riders more than once.
“The camaraderie and trust we in each other was great, and we’d often ride ourselves into the ground for each other. We’d train together and it was simply a great time. Dougie earned the respect of most riders and was always well liked.
“A highlight for me was to watch him rubbing shoulders and holding his position at the Tour Doon Hame, alongside his heroes like Russell Downing and Rob Hayles. That year Dougie took his first trip to Belgium and made great friends with Liam Cowie and Michael Nicolson among others.
“Dougie returned with ace stories of his racing and training rides, and how Callum Gough and the guys had helped all the young Scots settle into Belgian life. He was suffering in all the races but loving it. Especially lining up with the King Of Kermises, Mario Willems.
“He tells a story of Mario lining out the races while waving at tourists on boats on the Scheldt!
“In recent years Dougie made the move to Aberdeen and Montrose to pursue his career as a Fire Risk Engineer after graduating. He kept his hand in on the bike and took on a tour across Europe from Venice to Krakow with Kristof Aksnes and Allan Shearer. He even took a top three in a local road race this year with little training.
“I didn’t stay in touch with him as much as I should have but we spoke regularly.
“I’m really going to miss him.’
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Another of his friends was Finlay Young, who shared some time in Flanders with him;
“He was one of the most refreshing guys to be around, both on and off the bike. People just loved his company; he was able to be brutally honest about thing in the most hilarious way.
“This is one of those cliché paragraphs where I’m struggling to say much more than what a shame it is that we’ve all lost such a brilliant, uniquely charismatic friend far too soon.
“I spent a full summer living with him and the guys racing in Oudenaarde.
“The first few weeks were just Dougie and I; the two of us used to ride to each others’ races hand bottles up, as I was still junior and he was U23.
“The first time either of us won prize money we bought beers at the race HQ before having to ride home in a thunderstorm; I snapped my chain so we stopped for frites; and then I hit a car three kilometres from home – quite an eventful day, but that didn’t stop us.
“He’s one of the guys who has a huge list of interesting stories from racing, training camps and holidays with mates that always had me in stitches – as did his impressions of just about anyone. “Eyy mate!”
Sincere condolences to his friends, family and loved ones from Martin and Ed here at VeloVeritas.