Tour de Trossachs 2007 Mile zero: 09.54, and Alastair McNicol of Kelso Wheelers is on the line. Off No.1 at 10:01, he’s not going to miss his start.
It’s six degrees, there are just wisps of cloud in the sky and Scotland has never looked better. Ferns, conifers and beech, lime green to dark brown form the backdrop for the timekeepers; to the north, the hills of the Trossachs wait quietly for the onslaught.
Alastair composes himself for his effort; three, two, one, go – the 2007 Tour de Trossachs is underway.
Number four is Andrew Whitehall, he’s done a good job with the gene selection, his dad could “push a bike” as we say in Fife; his final time would be 1-12-41 for sixth and best junior. He looks the part too, on his carbon Scott.
Dukes Pass: around 3.5 miles, the bend where the “gallery” used to stand. If you’ve endured my Trossachs ranting over the years, you’ll be ready for my “…when I used to ride the race, there were a couple of hundred folk on the hairpin”. Today, at 10.20 there are four, if you count us.
It’s the girls on the Pass as Arthur Doyle’s wife, Sharon (Ivy) is well on the way to catching Alison Robinson (Berwick), but Pippa Handley (Edinburgh RC) is looking good on her lo-pro, en route best lady’s award.
By 10.30 there are nine ‘tifosi’ on the climb, if you count Martin and I. Our Editor, Martin is a man that knows the Trossachs score; he won here in 1989 when riding for GS Modena/M&M Windows, was fastest up the climb and together with Stewart Whitlie and Davie Gibson won the award for best team, but his best memory of that day is being treated at sponsor John Murray’s lochside retreat with a ‘slap-up BBQ’ and some water skiing behind a powerboat to fill the afternoon, as a thank you.
Jim Leslie (thebicycleworks) off 28 looks the part, but Ran Shenton (Team Swift), a minute behind, is up on him; despite his Caygill creaking and groaning in protest about the steepness of the Dukes. At the end, Jim would tell us that, just like the pros say; ‘I didn’t have good legs.’
Three Lochs Forest Drive: Around five miles, 10.55 and it’s ten degrees now; as the gentleman taking the time checks just said; “You’ll no’ get a better day for it.” Quite.
Tom Worthington (Nightingale), off 40 is moving well and the sun feels warm on our skin.
Loch Achray: Eight miles or so into the race. The Loch is like a mill pond and the old Trossachs Hotel is reflected in the surface, like a fairytale castle. Tourists take pictures as Martin tries to get shots of riders which incorporate the beautiful view. There are huge gaps in the field but it’s so nice just to be here, we don’t mind.
Graham Barclay (Kirkcaldy) swishes past. He’s caught John Walker (Lomond Roads) for a minute. Number 68, Callum Wilkinson (Pedal Power) but clad in a bicycleworks skinsuit, looks good – so does tall Alistair Robinson (Keswick Bikes), off 70.
Loch Venachar: By the water at around 13 miles, we nipped past Robinson, he looks good on that Felt; flat back, good cadence, and his lines through the bends are spot on.
This stretch is fast, but you have to watch the corners – they just appear without warning; if ever there was a course which repays a pre-race recce, this is it.
The ‘new’ climb: We’re high in the hills above Thornhill, around 19 miles, the temperature is 12 degrees and we’re getting techical now – there’s a stop watch on the go. We start the watch on 68, Wilkinson. He looks good, but 70, Robinson [below], is 9 seconds up: both are in the ‘tuck’ on the tri-bars and look like they should.
Robinson’s final 1-10-43 would be good enough for fourth, whilst Wilkinson would take fifth with 1-11-19.
There’s not a breath of wind, it’s like a summer’s day. The bird song and the sound of the odd leaf falling are all there is to disturb our idyll.
Five minutes later, there’s maybe a wee breeze beginning to stir the leaves, but it feels as if it will provide a tail wind home.
Arthur Doyle (Ivy) off 84; that pink jersey is easy to pick up in the sunshine and he’s keeping the gear down to go 1-10 up on Robinson – nice work, Arthur. We even give him a time check. At the finish, a 1-8-55, for second, would be his reward.
Jim Cusick (Glasgow Couriers) is battling the hill but 30 seconds down on Arthur. Jim would be third in 1-9-46.
Almost immediately, a familiar form tracks into sight… Jason!
The man from the Edge is off the tri-bars, on the brake lever part of the bars as the gear flies round. He’s put four minutes into Jim. Superlatives don’t do the man justice.
Ruskie: 25 miles, 14 degrees, and Jason is flying. Off the tri-bars and pedalling still, he never lets the gear ‘bog-down’, he changes down and revs, always on top of the job.
Lake of Menteith: 27 miles. That heart-breaker of a drag up from the Lake. Jason flows past, poetry in motion. We’ve passed him a couple of times now and decide not to do so again – there’s always someone looking for a ‘following car controversy’.
Anyway, we need a Phil Brown (Velo Ecosse) pic. He’s won here twice before, but not today, Phil.
At the finish, the sun shines and short sleeves are the order of the day.
Like organiser, Janette Hazlett said;
“A new course record – again, for Jason Macintyre with 1-04-47.”
What They Said
“I wasn’t specifically out to get the course record; I was more concerned with getting the hill record. The thing about that is that I don’t really like going off like a maniac, it doesn’t suit my style of riding, but I ha