My amigo, Dave Henderson rang me soon after Martin and I got home from the Scottish ‘25’ Championship at Forfar; “how did the race go?” he asked me. ‘John Archibald, Pro Vision Scotland won with a Scottish record 47:57; Jon Entwistle, GTR with 49:27 was second and David Griffiths, Pro Vision Scotland was third with 50:12.’ I replied.
There was silence then a low whistle down the line.
If, like Dave and I you grew up in an era where Glen Road Club’s Big Drew Brunton would win the ‘25’ Champs with a ‘58’ I could well understand his reaction – these times seem other-worldly, astonishing.
John Archibald eclipsed Graeme Obree’s 1994 record time of 48:43 and lead his team mates Griffiths and Kyle Johnston [54:14] to a new Scottish team record.
And please don’t think this was ‘float’ conditions; whilst the ladies enjoyed a lovely summer morning, by the time the top seeds were passing us a few miles from the line the hood was up on my sweatshirt as a cold head wind delivered stinging rain.
But let’s go back to 04:30 and the alarm; it’s like Robin Williams said in ‘Good Morning Vietnam.’
‘What does the ‘oh’ stand for in 04:30? Oh my God – it’s EARLY!’
But the sun was splitting the sky and it was a nice drive up to Forfar where the Big Macs were already flying over the counter – we went for double sausage and egg McMuffin meals complete with hash browns and cappuccino.
Hideously bad for us but they hit the spot perfectly.
Not much to say; gently rolling A90 dual carriageway with a flyover turn – little scope for our usual wee history lessons save for a mention of the historic 17th century Finavon doocot. With space for 2,400 pigeons, it was the takeaway of its day and sits just before the Finavon ‘services.’
First over the Brechin flyover turn was junior off number two, Ross Thomson (Dunfermline CC) who’d eventually stop the clock with a highly creditable 56:24 – a shame to see just three youths/juniors on the sheet though.
The first lady to appear was Georgia Mansfield (RT 23) [eventual 1:04:00 and Scottish junior ladies’ record] with the sun still blessing us, albeit there was a nip in the breeze as the traffic count began to lift with the artics shifting huge amounts of air as they hurtled under the bridge.
Number nine, Anna Fairweather (Spokes Racing Team) [1:03:27] had caught number six, seven and eight before ‘stripy girl’ number 11 Sonya Drummond (Dundee Thistle RC) gave us a bit of colour en route her 1:04:58.
Amanda Tweedie (RT 23) smiled us a greeting as she kept her crouch over the flyover – many had to get out of the saddle and/or change gear to cope with the ramp – a 1:00:19 and a share in the new Scottish ladies’ team record would be her reward.
Toni McIntosh (Ayr Roads) looked overgeared to us but at the death she’d be just outside the hour with 1:00:07.
Toni had Catriona MacGillivray (RT 23) bearing down on her and the RT girl was certainly looking the part – at the finish she would run out winner with a fine 57:27 and lead Amanda Tweedie to the team title and record.
Second last off was Lynsey Curran (Dooleys) and her 58:26 at the line would see her in final second spot.
Last of the ladies and bronze medallist was Vicky Smith (AeroCoach) with 59:21 – back in May Vicky recorded a short ‘54’ down south so many of us expected her to top the podium…
It was time for a move – to a lay-by south of Forfar and more nice sunshine with shelter from the breeze from a copse of trees.
On the gently dropping north-bound carriageway the men were using the tailwind to advantage, flying up towards Brechin.
But on our side of the road the drag was hurting, especially where it drifted right as it disappeared from view.
Number 40, Stephen Davidson (Synergy Cycles) [57:18] was first to catch our eye but #45, Angus Wilson (Dundee Thistle) was going well – he’d caught his eight minute man and at the line would come in with 54:46.
Kelvin White was one minute behind and looked on top of it too – 54:56 was the timekeeper’s verdict.
Number 36, Dave Kirton keeps the Kennoway Road Club name in the frame and his 1:19:20 is a lot quicker than I’d go right now.
At this point Martin disappeared into ‘the bush’ in search of those arty, Jered Gruber-type images.
The noises coming off number 51’s disc wheel were the right ones en route his 54:56; Brian Duncan, Rapha CC – and we though those boys only rode Fondos in Italy?
Across the central reservation riders continued to scurry north – more and more are riding with tail lights and it’s not a bad idea given the heavy traffic in both directions blasting between two of Scotland’s busiest cities, Dundee and Aberdeen.
Number 55 and we recognise those colours – Metaltek Kuota Racing Team, the livery of our Rutland-winning amigo, Dan Fleeman.
The man in the skinsuit was Andy Brown and his 53:12 would be enough for 12th spot in the final reckoning.
But was that Jim Petrie (Dundee Wheelers) who Andy had caught, my old sparring partner from the 80’s? Jim’s 59:18 would be my ‘10’ time these days.
A big black Nissan Skyline stole my attention for a moment, in Japan they tune them up to 1,000 bhp and this one was certainly making all the right noises – sorry, those ‘boy racer’ instincts are still in there.
Sandy Wallace charged north, a surprise to see him in Fife Century colours after seeing him in his own Sandy Wallace Cycles colours for so long – but those club politics…
Number 68 Michael Robb (Carrick Cycle Club) on his way to 55:16 looked the part, catching his five minute man.
Steve Beech off 67 (RT 23) – what can I say? He was battling the Russians in the Milk Race when I was just a lad and he can still turn out a 59:46 – respect.
Number 76, Jamie Davidson (Aberdeen Wheelers) had the flat back and nice cadence – an eventual 51:40 for seventh confirmed he was getting it right.
No names, no pack drill but someone in the mid-70’s gave us palpitations with his wide, white-line riding; so, so dangerous in that heavy traffic flow.
Another change of scene, a lay-by near the aforementioned Finavon doocote and better light for Martin’s pics.
Number 90, Jamie Henderson (Spokes) back on gears after riding fixed in the ‘10’ champs – 54:25 for the former track star.
He’d caught and dropped number 89 – one John Shelley (Perth United) – another man from my era and a former Scottish Kilometre Championship silver medallist; 1:05:11 for ‘Big John’ today.
The Glasgow Nightingale colours have stood the test of time and Richard McGhee looked good in taking them to 53:55 and a spot in the top 20.
The artics were swarming now and displacing a lot of Angus atmosphere as the morning wore on.
Peter Ettles (RT 23) on his fixed bike to 53:58 was his usual smooth self.
Yet another name from the 80’s – John Landragon (Granite City) looking well aero and dipping well ‘under’ with 58:07.
Stewart Irving (Carnoustie CC) looked good to us off 107 and that disc was singing the right song – 52:19 for ninth spot was what the timekeeper had to say.
There was a bit of cloud rolling in and it was sweatshirt time as Sean Noon [Spokes] was next to grab our attention off 121 he was running down number 120, Paul McLafferty (Dooley).
Noon would finish with 53:17 and McLafferty 54:24.
The third last man to start, Chris Smart powered northwards with eventual silver medallist Entwistle looking compact and safe as he kept his line on a day when many drifted out towards the white line on the curves.
Archibald was already looking smooth and purposeful as he headed for Brechin.
The last man to pass us at that spot was former 100 mile champion, Eddie Addis another of those RT 23 boys – he’d finish on 53:28.
Our last lay-by was on the last long straight, a couple of miles before the finish where we could see the rain clouds quarrelling above the foothills of the Grampians.
Eddie passed us again and gave us a wave – ‘thank you, sir.’
The air was definitely cooler here as it drifted up from the west and a jacket was required over the sweat shirt as the first of the seeds appeared, evergreen Jim Cusick (Dooleys) [52:56]; but we hadn’t expected fixed-riding Kyle Gordon (RT 23) to have caught him – Gordon’s fine 50:20 gave him fifth at the line.
Arthur Doyle (Dooleys) was due next, and despite giving us a wee wave was well down on Gordon, his 52:25 gave him 10th place and the strength of the wind could be gauged by the usually silky smooth Doyle being buffeted off his line by the big gusts on a morning which could now pass for November.
Ken Armstrong (Carrick CC) next, up on Doyle but down on Gordon, he’d finish sixth with his 51:38.
Former ‘50’ champion, Alan Thomson (RT 23) was DNS so our next man to look at the watch for was Tom Broadbent (Elgin) who was up on Doyle and would finish eighth in the final reckoning with his 52:10.
We had hard-charging Chris Smart (GTR) level with Gordon but at the line Smart had the advantage by two seconds with his 50:18 for that worst of placings – fourth.
David Griffiths (Pro Vision Scotland) with his flat back and higher-than-most cadence looked very smooth as he battled the wind home – it was close between him and Smart but he was finally six seconds to the good with 50:12 to take bronze.
Jon Entwistle (GTR) re-wrote the standard, well clear of the Gordon/Smart/Griffiths feud we had him half-a-minute and more to the good – his 49:27 a new Scottish veterans’ record as well as giving him silver on the morning.
We didn’t have to wait long to see the race won – John Archibald (Pro Vision Scotland) was a minute and more to the good on Entwistle and I was thinking; ‘he’s put five minutes into Jim Cusick – and Jim won’t have been hanging around.’
A sub 50 minute ride looked feasible – we just didn’t realise by how much he’d venture into 30 mph territory.
A historic day and another chapter in the John Archibald success story – but do remember that timekeeper Mhairi Laffoley has asked me to remind everyone that all records are subject to ratification.
And what would Big Drew Brunton have done in a skinsuit on a low pro with a disc and tri-spoke?
See you at the ’50.’