Sunday, September 19, 2021
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Sandy Wallace, the Perfect Friend

Sandy helped hundreds of people over the years and never wanted anything in return.

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It’s with much sadness that VeloVeritas records the passing of Fife and Scottish cycling stalwart, Sandy Wallace.

We thought we should ask just a few of those whose lives were touched by the man to give us their tributes…

Sandy Wallace
Sandy Wallace at the Scottish 25 Mile TT Championships in 2017. Photo©Martin Williamson

* * *

Alastair Hamilton, former business associate and friend

“I had promised to catch up with Sandy next year when he would be back in Spain getting away from the Scottish winter. 

“Due to Covid restrictions and time constraints we didn’t meet up this year…

“I first met Sandy when I started selling him bike kit for his Inverkeithing shop but of course I’d heard of Sandy’s racing exploits. 

“It was probably after my second visit to his shop that I was invited for dinner and to stay over; that’s how Sandy was, generous to a fault. 

“I lost contact with him when I moved to Spain, but a few years ago I noticed on Strava he was packing in the kilometres just up the road in Denia

We met up and he was just the same Sandy as 20 years before.

He will be missed by many all over the world, Scotland, Spain, New Zealand…

“Rest in Peace, Sandy.” 

Sandy Wallace. Photo©Kyle Gordon

* * *

Phil Jurczyk, former club mate back in the 1960’s

“I started cycling in 1962 and went along to the Kirkcaldy Clarion club rooms in Commercial Street where I met Sandy along with Dave Lauter and one or two others; we would use the rollers and I am sure I couldn’t be the only one who was terrified of going through the large window just a few inches in front.

“We were soon joined by Dave Gardiner and the four of us cycled to time trials throughout central Scotland.

“Sandy and I entered a 50 mile TT at West Ferry on the Clyde and intended staying at my grandfather’s house the night before but arrived there the evening before to find the house empty and locked. 

“With nowhere to stay we eventually asked a local farmer near the start if we could sleep in his barn and fortunately he assented. 

“With no evening meal or breakfast our efforts in the TT were as to be expected, abysmal. 

“Undaunted we set off later to Sandy’s aunt’s in Cruden Bay in the North East and stayed overnight en route in Birman Youth Hostel before climbing the Devil’s Elbow and coasting down the other side and spent a couple pleasant days at Cruden Bay before cycling home.

“We thought nothing of cycling to events in the days before many had cars.

“We all went our different ways in the next few years but Sandy was the one who was most consistent in his involvement in the sport and was well respected in the cycling community gaining honours and representing Scotland at various disciplines. 

“I met Sandy a few times in recent years on some Audax long distance rides in the Scottish Borders and he seemed as strong and determined as ever. 

“He spoke of his love of his dog and his great pleasure in escaping the cold to spend the winter in Spain. 

“He will be sorely missed by so many of us.”

* * *

Silas Goldsworthy, friend and team member

“I first met Sandy in 2008 when I joined his then team, Sandy Wallace Cycles. 

“He was welcoming from the very beginning and had such infectious positivity that it was hard not to enjoy riding for him. 

“We bonded over our a mutual love for cycling, dogs and similar views on life. 

“I don’t think everyone saw the kind considerate side to Sandy, sometimes that was hidden by his ‘race face.’ 

“Sandy was the most kind, considerate and generous person I have known, who has been there for me during the lowest points of my life. 

“I genuinely don’t know where I would be without his influence on my life. 

“On a more general note he has helped so many people and influenced so many people in his life. 

“His friends made sure he knew how many people he had influenced, he was far too modest to realise or think about that himself. 

“And that’s before we even begin to talk about his own physical achievements on the bike. 

“I seem to recall we once took a guess at how many pedal revolutions he has done in his lifetime. 

“We decided 150 million per leg was a very conservative estimate – no wonder he had calves of steel. 

“My favourite tale of his cycling exploits was hearing about his four corners of Britain challenge – over 2000 miles in 10 or 11 days. Madness! 

“It was exhausting trying to keep up with Sandy’s enthusiasm for life when he was in his 60s and 70s, I  dread to think how much energy he had as a young man.”

Silas Goldsworthy. Photo©Martin Williamson

* * *

Mhairi Laffoley, friend

“It is with great sadness that I have to record that following a short illness, which he fought with great courage, Sandy Wallace passed away this morning.

“Sandy has been part of Fife Cycling from the age of 13 and over the years has competed in many disciplines of the sport to an extremely high level. 

“For over 30 years he ran Sandy Wallace Cycles, his bike shop in Inverkeithing and managed a cycling team of the same name which produced many world class cyclists.  

“Our thoughts are with his son John and the family at this sad time.

“RIP Sandy – you will be greatly missed.  

“Enjoy your bike ride in the sun with the wind always at your back.”

* * *

Vic Posse, friend

“Sadly, Sandy’s passing wasn’t unexpected, liver cancer is something that medical science doesn’t yet have a handle on and despite weeks of chemo therapy we’ve lost him.

“I only remember happy times with Sandy, my involvement with Ayr Roads CC meant I would see him when he was through at events like the Davie Bell Memorial Road Race with his Sandy Wallace Cycles team.

“When he had the shop in Inverkeithing I used to do his garden for him at his home and our friendship deepened; after he’d finished work the two of us would head over to Meadowbank to ride the Tuesday night Track League. 

“We spent time together at international veterans competitions in Manchester and in Portugal – I always felt that if Sandy had specialised he could have won much more; but he wanted to compete in everything, from 500 meter time trials on the track to 12 hour time trials – and cyclo-crosses!

“He was a terrific supporter of Fife Cycling and took great pride in the achievements of the riders on his Sandy Wallace Cycles team, especially Kyle Gordon who he gave great backing to in his preparations for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.”

Sandy Wallace
Sandy Wallace and Kyle Gordon enjoy a break from training. Photo©Kyle Gordon

* * *

Peter Ettles, team member and friend

“Like so many others I was so saddened by the passing of Sandy Wallace at the weekend.

“He was an absolute gem of a guy who would go out of his way to help you out and even more so if that involved anything cycling related.

“He was a true inspiration and a larger than life character who seemed to have more energy and drive about him than most in their 20s.

“So irrepressible was he, he thought nothing of driving from Fife to Manchester on a Friday night just to ride the track league; and who else would take on the Tour de France route at the age of 65 and ride it in the same number of days as the pros.  

“Just amazing, he really was a proper hardman of the bike game and had so many stories to tell.

“Sandy loved running his race team which I joined in 2009, and like so many Sandy Wallace riders before my time I benefited greatly from his knowledge, kindness and support whilst all he ever asked in return was that you be  the best ‘you’ that you could be and to respect the jersey. 

“As a result we always tried to ride ‘out of our skin.’ 

“When he would phone after a race and someone had got a result he was always as thrilled as if it was him himself that had won.”

Sandy Wallace
Peter Ettles. Photo©Ed Hood

“He took real pride and interest in what all of his riders achieved. 

“There was always a pick me up and a comforting word if things hadn’t gone quite to plan. 

“Sometimes even a wrap on the knuckles if you had been deemed to be riding ‘stupit.’ 

“Sandy did not take prisoners.

“It’s been clear to see over the past few days on social media just what Sandy really meant to people and all the folks, especially in cycling, that his life has affected and touched over the years from all over the world.

“Writing this a couple of days after Sandy’s death and with some reflection I look back at my friend Sandy without so much grief but more of admiration for a man who had a huge zest for the life he lived and loved that life to the absolute max.

“I would like to thank him so much for letting me be a part of that.

“To paraphrase Frank Sinatra, ‘Sandy did it his way.’

“One of Scottish cycling brightest stars may have gone out but he will never be forgotten

“RiP Sandy, you absolute LEGEND.”

Sandy Wallace
Sandy Wallace during the Tour of the Meldons in 2018. Memorable because Sandy was the only rider in the field to shout a cheery ‘hello’ as he passed. I framed this image and gave it to Sandy as a present; Sandy would not accept it without offering something in return – a full bike strip-down and service of any bike I wanted at Ryan’s Bike Surgery, a far too generous deal. Photo©Martin Williamson

* * *

Steve Beech, team member and friend

“A sad loss to the sport.

“Sandy supported and helped a lot of riders, notably Kyle Gordon in recent years.   

“The Sandy Wallace Cycles team ran from around 1995 until 2016.  He was instrumental in setting up the RT23 team in 2017. 

“Although he was always busy running his shop, he managed to train to a high level; winning championship medals in time trials, road racing, grass track, indoor and outdoor hard tracks, MTB, cyclo-cross – everything from sprints to the Scottish 12 hour championship. 

“Rest in Peace, Sandy.”

Steve Beech. Photo©Martin Williamson

* * *

Kyle Gordon, team member and friend

“I would often ask myself; ‘what have I done to deserve such a good friend as Sandy?’

“An 11 year friendship which started off around 2010 with me being on the Sandy Wallace Cycles racing team which gradually took pace to us becoming best buddies.

“Sandy was a great life mentor, he had so much knowledge and experience across so many different things in life; if I needed to know anything then he was the man.

“He nagged me for about seven years to really chase my passion in cycling and train properly. 

“I am glad I finally listened as I would not be where I am today in the sport if it wasn’t for his several kicks up the backside.

“I’ve had the joy of living and training with him in Spain, he fell in love with Denia and went there every winter for about four months.

“I’m not sure if it was the cycling or the Café Ciclista Carrot cake but he was drawn there each year. 

“He trained like a pro – he’s the only person I know that could do five or six hours fasted rides and still be smiling at the end.

“No corners were cut when it came to training and equipment he made sure to always be at his BEST!

“I’ve been living at Sandy’s on and off for four years now so I could be based near the Velodrome. 

“He handed me a key in 2017 and said; ‘make yourself at home.’ 

“This is what he was like – he just wanted to help people and see them reach their full potential whether it was in sport, business or life.”

Kyle Gordon. Photo©Martin Williamson

“He has helped hundreds like me over the years and never wanted anything in return.

“He really was the gift that kept on giving.

“I will miss his 4:00 am wake up calls… I was always suspicious if it was intentional or not, the loud bangs, building bikes or really loudly emptying the dishwasher anytime between 4-7am which sounded like he was right outside my bedroom door.

“It was character-building and possibly all part of my life training he was secretly giving me without me really knowing. He’d often say ‘good afternoon’ or ‘oh, your awake?’ if I surfaced during these times.

“I will miss his story telling, so many crazy stories from his entire life, my jaw would be dropped and mouth wide open at some of the things he has done and achieved, he was always so modest when telling them, I’ll be sure to keep passing them on.

“He helped me with so much over the years, and I say it again ‘I would not be where I am or shaped to be who I am if it wasn’t for Sandy’.

“He was the perfect friend and I will miss him so much.”

* * *

Sandy Wallace
Sandy Wallace. Photo©Kyle Gordon

Rest in Peace, Sandy.

VeloVeritas
Here at VeloVeritas, we provide our readers with truthful, accurate, unique and informative articles about the sport we love. We attend many local races as well as work on the professional circuit, from the local "10" mile time trial to the "monuments" - classics like Milan-SanRemo and the Tour of Lombardy, the World Road and Track Championships, the winter Six Days and the Grand Tours; le Tour de France, il Giro d'Italia and la Vuelta a España.

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