We missed you last year Tour de Trossachs, so let’s begin with a large ‘thank you’ to Jason Roberts and his team for reviving this great race and organising it so well.
And nice to see the late Sandy Wallace’s name honoured on the start sheet.
It was a lovely autumn morning in Fife but by the time we reached Stirling the rain clouds had appeared and the wipers were on – but as we got closer to The Trossachs, the skies cleared and the Weather Gods smiled upon us.
The fishermen were on the Lake of Menteith early as we drove up that last long drag to where the race would finish in an hour or two.
We reminisced about the ‘old days’ when a big crowd would gather at the foot of the Dukes outside the Baillie Nicol Jarvie hotel in Aberfoyle – named a after a character in Sir Walter Scot’s novel, ‘Rob Roy’ – with their beers, to cheer riders on to the climb alas, the bar and the crowds are no more.
The Dukes was in fine fettle, the sun shining through the autumn leaves, their colours on the turn with great views south.
First man in our viewfinder was # 3 Norman Gillan [Vanelli – Project Go] who ‘warmed the tar’ for everyone else.
Whilst first man on a ‘low pro’ was # 5 Kenneth Young [Rock and Road Cycles] out of the saddle and battling the grade.
Basel Razouk [Torvelo Racing] # 16 was the first to catch our eye as moving well on that nice Quintana Roo ‘tri’ bike; he’d end the day in sixth place on 1:11:24.
We wandered down to the famous hairpin where the ‘gallery’ used to stand, dozens of clubmen would ride out to watch the race back in the 70’s and 80’s; today we had but one lone rider out to watch # 18 Graham Miller [Chester RC] battle with gravity.
Ambling back up the climb we thought that Neil Cowie off # 32 having come all the way from Elgin deserved a picture.
Liam White [Torvelo Racing] # 35 looked comfortable and quiet on a climb where we heard many riders before we saw them, wheezing carries a long way on still, cool autumn air.
We didn’t have to wait long for the next Liam, Scott Douglas [Dooleys] this time, # 37 and riding with purpose.
And when you encounter one of Scottish cycling’s legends on the Dukes, you just have to take his picture – Chapeau, Vic Posse with the lovely Gwynneth Rixon and VeloVeritas Mentor and chauffeur for the day, Dave Chapman.
Up to the top of The Dukes where it was noticeably chillier with a breeze coming and going.
We get ‘pelters’ for ‘girls’ and ‘ladies’ – we’re not evensure if ‘lassies’ is acceptable, so first FEMALE we snapped on the day was Roison Gordon [Glasgow Green Cycle Club] # 39.
I keep thinking those boys in pink are the Glasgow Ivy, but no, Team Andrew Allan Architecture with # 50, Stewart Burke’s tyres making the right noises over the tar.
I raced with Andrew’s dad, Sandy back when dinosaurs roamed the planet, Sandy was a huge Tom Simpson fan and used to take a picture of the late great World Champion to the barber’s so he could have the same haircut.
Sarah Emslie [Edinburgh RC] was enjoying her day out, smiling and smooth as she approached the prime line.
We like the urgency of Duncan McLeod’s [Gala CC] style and his high cadence climbing.
We love it down on the loch-side at Achray and Venachar but Deirdre Harrington [Leicester Forest CC] # 59, didn’t have time to admire the view.
Alexandra Michnowicz was another female concentrating on the job in hand with no time to ponder Loch Katrine, Sir Walter and the ‘Romantic Poets’ who frequented these parts.
We missed our annual picture of beautiful Loch Drunkie so decided to make amends by snapping the Trossachs Kirk – a setting like this could perhaps even lead a heathen like me on to the path?
It can’t be, but it is – a tandem at The Trossachs.
And not just any old machine; this one is from cult French builder, Cyfac – courtesy of Alison & Jack Peasgood [Walden tri.]
The Inver Trossachs Road was just too narrow and busy to stop on so we headed on up the ‘Wee Braes of Greenock;’ back in the days when Dave and I rode the race it went over the, ‘Big Braes,’ but that’s a long time ago.
The top of the ‘Wee Braes’ and Jesse Dawson [Glasgow Nightingale] was looking the part for an eventual 1:12:18 and eighth place – we do like those Cannondales.
Hazel Smyth was looking the part too as she went back on to the ‘skis’ over the top.
Apologies to the first man we had down as a potential winner, Logan Maclean [Spokes Race Team] # 89, who rode a good race at the Campsies; his image isn’t the best though – one of those moments where there are suddenly cars everywhere out ofnowhere, the shot is snatched and not focused properly.
When the dust had settled he lost the day by one second with 1:08:23.
Chatting to him after the race he explained that like us with his picture, he’d fallen foul of traffic on the descent of The Dukes, unable to pass slow moving drivers on the tricky bends.
And just to confuse us even more – a second tandem appeared, in RT 23 trim this time, Messrs Holl & Clayton.
Ray Wilson [Ryan’s Bike Surgery – Thomson Homes] # 94 is a name from a few years ago; he’s back and getting the job done as he contemplated the recovery drop to Thornhill; he’d end the day a good fifth in 1:10:54.
CTT 24 Hour Champion, Robbie Mitchell [Auchencrow Thistle] # 99 was looking strong but had lost a minute to former Scottish Hill Climb Champion, David Griffiths [Oswestry Paragon] # 100 – we’ll need to ask him about that club choice – but more of that in a moment.
Hamish Creber [Ryan’s Bike Surgery – Thomson Homes] # 101,like Logan Maclean rode a strong Campsies and we had him down for a podium; we got that right, he was an eventual third with 1:10:35, leading the winning team along with Ray Wilson and Silas Goldsworthy.
But close behind was # 103 Robbie Friel [Vanelli – Project Col] and we realised that the race was between Messrs. Maclean and Friel – with Old Father Time giving that final tick of the second hand to the latter gentleman with 1:08:22.
And we need more guidance with team names – Mark McGhee ‘explained Vanelli – Project Go’ to us – but we need assistance with, ‘Flying Kippers’ please?
The rear view belonging to Nigel Brookes of said outfit.
By the time we got to our final photo spot of the day, the long drag up from the Lake of Mentieith to the finish, the Mitchell v. Griffiths heavy weight battle was still in full effect – the verdict to Griffiths in eventual fourth place on 1:10:38 with Mitchell seventh in 1:11:49.
‘Oldie but Goodie’ Jim Cusack [[Dooleys RT] had been passed by both men but was still keeping good form on that final heart breaker of a drag.
Jim’s Dooley’s team person, ‘Ms.’ [is that OK?] Lynsey Curran was fighting with the bike a wee bittie but still getting the pedals round and would end the day as best FEMALE in 1:20:37.
Robbie Friel wasn’t fighting though, getting the power down and looking impressively strong he had caught and dropped Hamish Creber.
Adding his name to the ‘who’s who’ of Scottish Cycling that is the Trossachs roll of honour – Billy Bilsland, Robert Millar, Sandy Gilchrist, Graeme Obree, Jason MacIntye…
A wee bit of a ‘jour sans’ for Silas Goldsworthy [Ryan’s Bike Surgery]; it was apparent he wasn’t happy with his ride, albeit he was in the winning team
The flash on my camera didn’t seem to agree with last man, Douglas Watson’s [GTR – Return to Life] polar white skinsuit but we’ll pretend it’s an ‘arty’ shot.
A road bike for Douglas today and ninth with 1:12:32; with his former Trossachs winning team mate Chris Smart absent – on holiday in Espana.
Men of the day then: Messrs. Friel, Maclean and Creber; Woman of the day: Lynsey Curran – but bike of the day, a no contest: David Griffiths’ Tri Rig Omni with a 60 x 50 bottom gear…
The Trossachs in autumn, a good race and nice soup at the strip, what more could you ask for?
Well, maybe more soup in the cup next time?