This is the least favourite part of having our own wee website; writing the obituaries of bright young men with most of their lives still ahead of them. This past week we lost Lewis Oliphant, perhaps best known for his exploits on the grass track.
At VeloVeritas we knew Lewis but couldn’t claim to know him well; what we’ve done then is to ask for people who were close to let us have their tributes.
We open with Scottish Cycling’s John Stollery:
“I knew Lewis for 15 years or so and he was a lovely guy, first and foremost. Quiet but clearly intelligent with a quirky sense of humour.
“Like many I was left stunned by the tragic news of his passing during the week.
“He probably lived in his younger brother Evan‘s shadow but that never seemed to bother him and he seemed happy enough of out of the limelight.
“He was however a very fine cyclist in his own right across many disciplines.
“Success didn’t come immediately like it did for Evan and he had to work hard over a number of years but he seemed to relish the hard training miles and the results did come eventually.
“He was renowned for being in fantastic shape all year round.
“I remember one time selling my old winter bike to him and I’m sure he probably put 10 times the miles on it than I ever did!
“He was certainly a stalwart of the Edinburgh and indeed wider Scottish cycling community and he will be sorely missed by all those who knew him. RIP Lewis.”
Richard Garrett is another friend of Lewis:
“Lewis Oliphant was a talented racer and will be much missed by all those who knew him.
“He started racing whilst a student in Edinburgh, initially focusing more on track than road.
“Lewis was a prolific competitor in the Scottish Grass Track and Highland Games scene, where he put his turn of speed and track craft to win multiple titles over the years.
“He was perhaps encouraged to race more on the road by the success of his professional brother Evan, and raced many successful seasons at club level, first with Velo Ecosse (alongside the likes of Jason McIntyre) and more recently with Velo Club Edinburgh.
“First impressions of Lewis could be deceptive, he might initially have seemed a quiet lad from the north of Scotland, but he would reveal a dry wit and sense of fun, and an endless enthusiasm for the bike.
“He will be sorely missed by the east of Scotland cycling scene, a rider who was taken from us suddenly and at far too young an age.”
David Andrew was a college friend:
“I first met Lewis at university in 1998; we were on the same chemistry degree course and shared the bond that we both came from Caithness – Lewis from Wick and me from Thurso.
“He introduced me to proper cycling, prior to that I was just, ‘a kid with a bike.’
“My involvement with road and track – I still remember those evenings down at Meadowbank Velodrome – was down to him.
“He helped me get my first real bike, a Giant OCR which set me up for the Edinburgh group rides.
“And perhaps surprisingly, as students on occasion we did partake of a few sherbets the evening before some of those runs but somehow we always turned up for them albeit we may have been close to legal alcohol limit for riding a bicycle.
“I left Edinburgh, moving down to England in 2005 but always kept in touch and caught up on my visits to Edinburgh.
“The thing that always struck me was just how much he loved cycling and it was wonderful how he shared that love with me, bringing into my life a lot of experiences and fun.
“My lasting memory has to be my wedding in September 2015 for which we ‘made a weekend of it’ with the wedding party staying in a hotel on Loch Ness side near Drumnadrochit.
“We were in the bar on the Friday evening when Lewis appeared – having cycled from Wick, putting us all to shame.
“His involvement with Kerry – who, unfortunately I never met – took him into cyclocross which was of course close to the Caithness Highland Games grass track race scene he was involved in from his youth.
“Cycling was a fundamental part of this compassionate man who had a passion for his chosen sport – his is a tragic loss.”
Fin Young knew Lewis for a decade:
“I first met Lewis Oliphant back in 2007, I’d been given a Friday job at the Velo Ecosse bike shop to save up for my first road bike and Lewis was working the shop floor.