On a day of relentless rain which couldn’t decide whether it was apocalyptic or biblical, former jockey and reigning Scottish Olympic Time Trial Champion, Wilson Renwick (RT 23) was the man who coped best with the drastic conditions in the Tour de Trossachs.
Last man off and former Tour de Trossachs top dog, Chris Smart (GTR – Return To Life) finished second with 1:09:57 to Renwick’s 1:07:47.
Last place on the podium went to Scottish Hill Climb Champion, David Griffiths (Bioracer-Project GO) with 1:10:23.
Griffiths’ team mate Rob Friel took fourth spot and English 18 minute ‘10’ man Adam Wild (GS Metro) fifth place.
The usual VeloVeritas protocol of Martin and I driving the course was abandoned as our editor decided to walk back over The Dukes from the Callander side, snapping as he went.
Needless to say, this plot didn’t find favour with yours truly and I stuck to driving the course…
First vantage point was the top of The Dukes but it took me a wee while to get grips with my new (pre-loved) flash for the camera and the first decent snaps I produced were of Messrs. Robert Shennan (Johnstone Wheelers) and Andrew Stewart (Dunfermline CC) who couldn’t have been ‘full gas’ with that smile he flashed us.
Lindsay Foster (Hitchin Nomads) was a long way from home and if he was looking for the famous ‘gallery’ of tifosi on the hairpin and one of those crisp autumn days the race usually enjoys – sorry, Lindsay…
David Dalziel (Glasgow Nightingale) was the first rider who we managed to snap who looked like he was ‘on it.’
Brian Morrell (Dumfries CC) and Katherine Wren (Stirling Bike Club) were well ‘happed-up’ against the freezing rain and at this point we decided to abandon the Dukes least Mountain Rescue have to bring us in.
The descent of the Dukes is always tricky with some bad cambers and gnarly surfaces – rivers of cold water and some freshly laid gravel didn’t help today.
On the way down we spotted a lonely, drookit figure trudging towards us – our editor, Martin.
Eventually, even a Nikon will cry ‘enough cold rain already!’ effectively ending his part of the mission, so if you were after number 108 then you have to put up with just my pictures, sorry folks.
And we did have to stop for annual shot of our favourite stretch of Trossachs water – Loch Drunkie.
Next up was a photo stop loch-side; we decide against Achray as there wasn’t really a safe place to stop, so Venachar it was.
Off earlier than we’d have expected, hill climb master, David Griffiths soon whistled past; his Canyon has grown a nose fairing we noted.
Team mate Jason Roberts was in hot pursuit; but in vain and Griffiths would end the day in third spot.
The tricky Inver Trossachs Road was next with the cloud threatening to roll down off the hills and swallow up Callander.
Nico Anelli, another of those Bioracer boys was looking the part along there, as was Ewan Taylor (Velocity 44).
The mini roundabout at Callander looked a tad tricky but it was well marshalled.
The Wee Braes may be ‘wee’ but they’re every bit as tough as their big brother to the west.
Bobby Mcghee (Ayr Roads CC) was one of the first we snapped, just one of a very high veteran contingent in the race – two juveniles and three juniors does not bode well for the future however.
Ian Archibald (Johnstone Wheelers) was gloveless – that made my already frozen hands feel even worse…
Andrew Wilson (St. Christopher’s CC) was another with a smile for us; sorry I didn’t smile back, I was frozen, Andrew.
And is just me or does the guy on the front of this tandem loom like Lance Armstrong, or what?
Maybe he was incognito for The Trossachs to feature in his blog?
Usually there’s a lovely view as backdrop for pictures up on the Wee Braes – not this year and we headed for those tough closing miles along the Lake of Menteith.
Apparently it was the Loch of Menteith until the 19th century, no one knows why the change.
As we passed through Port of Menteith the reek off fires in the wee bungalows was barely clearing the lums before it headed eastwards.
A headwind is the last thing you want on those drags in the last few miles.
And what do you know; another tandem, this one actually in the race though – gallus!
Lewis Duff (GTR – Return To Life) looked the part on that nice aero Boardman as the rain battered down through the trees.
By this time there were huge gaps in the field – hardly surprising, given the day.
Jim Cusick (Dooleys RT) did ride but I was hiding in the car as he rode past – sorry Jim.
Aberdeen fast man Jamie Davidson gave it a ‘by’ though.
According to our start sheet, number 92 was Alastair Anderson of Fusion Triathlon Club but he was clad in Dooley’s gear; ‘stiff wee climb this,’ he informed us as he rode by.
North East flyer, Adam Wild (GS Metro) was looking the part and we had him down before the race as a possible winner but the watches would say, ‘fifth place.’
Eventual winner Renwick nearly caught us out, so quickly did he arrive after Wild, the GS Metro man was off 105 with the RT 23 man five minutes behind and obviously ‘on one,’ storming the drag which had some down to waking pace.
Rob Friel (Bioracer–Project GO) was another name we had asterisked on the start sheet and whilst he was going well, he was well down on Renwick.
Fastest lady on the day was Lynsey Curran (Dooleys RT) who looked composed as she battled the gradient and a rising wind.
Chris Smart’s arrival was later than it should have been and we reckoned that Renwick had it in the bag – albeit the GTR man was riding smooth and fast.
The Tour de Trossachs result board confirmed it; Renwick from Smart and Griffiths but plaudits to all who finished on this cruel day – and also to whoever made the clootie dumpling in the hall, a bright note on a grey day.
Let’s hope for some blue skies in 2019.