Silas Goldsworthy (Sandy Wallace Cycles) added his name to the list of Scottish cycling greats – Steel, Bilsland, Millar, Obree and MacIntyre – who have won the Classic chrono, with a 1:07:29 ride on a ‘four seasons in one day,’ Sunday over the glorious countryside around Aberfoyle and Callander to take the win at the Tour de Trossachs 2013.
Silas dedicated his win to Fife Century Road Club’s Alistair Speed, who tragically lost his life recently.
Three times previous winner Arthur Doyle (Dooleys) finished a minute behind Goldsworthy despite being faster to the top of the Dukes Pass than the tester turned pursuiter – but back to tester for the day – Goldsworthy.
In third spot was up-and-coming Steven Lawley (Herbalife) a scant four seconds behind Doyle.
The ridge road which leads from Thornhill to Aberfoyle was damp but presenting glorious views across the marshes to the Campsie Fells when VeloVeritas arrived at 09:00 am for the 10:00 am start.
It was flat calm in the Aberfoyle race HQ car park; but a little breezier on the Dukes Pass – the Duke being the Duke of Montrose, who had the road constructed to give better access to his lands.
First man up was veteran Albert McLellan (Glasgow Couriers), the same man who beat me into second place in the Scottish 12 hour champs in 1980? I think so.
So as we didn’t end up with all our pictures taken from the same spot, I headed back down the hill on foot with just the sounds of the birds and the burns – good for the soul.
Andrew Davis, owner of the thebicycleworks.com was looking good on the climb riding a titanium Enigma with a ‘graffiti’ paint job.
Andrew has always been a man for the cutting edge equipment; I can remember him riding one of the first pairs of ultra light (at the time) Roval wheels here in the Trossachs in the 80’s – trouble was, with so few spokes if one broke or worked its way loose it was catastrophe, the wheel went so far out of true that it wouldn’t clear the stay/forks.
That’s why I seem to recall seeing him carrying his bike up the Braes of Greenock, back then…
The breeze was picking up further down the climb but the sun was out and the road drying as pro Michael Nicholson pedalled past – but not in anger – looking skinnier than I’ve ever seen him – all those kermises are pairing the weight off him.
The ladies in the race began to pass me at this point and it was Sandy Wallace Cycles’ Anda-Jay Burgess who would end the day with best time – 1:20:48.
Down at the hairpin there were exactly seven spectators; I say it every year but back in the 70’s and 80’s there were several hundred clubmen at this spot.
Former winner of the Trossachs TT and VeloVeritas editor Martin’s anecdote about this spot also bears repeating; riding the race in 1979 as a skinny schoolboy for Jocky Allan’s Velo Sportiv, Musselburgh’s Davie Urquhart handed him up an ‘Orange Club’ biscuit – ‘for energy!’
Carlos Riis (Shetland Wheelers) and Jim Cusick (Glasgow Couriers) were looking the part but the watch would ultimately show them to be well off the pace as they climbed past trees on the turn to autumn colours and others heavy with berries.
Further down the slope it became harder to get photographs of riders on their own as the traffic count rose and impatient motorists glowered from behind windscreens at the inconvenience of being held up for a couple of seconds.
The ‘Wiggo Effect’ was certainly not in evidence on The Dukes – even though there were big gaps in the field and really not that many riders to slow down vehicles.
At the bottom of The Dukes is the Aberfoyle war memorial, a reminder that nowhere in Scotland, however small and remote, escaped that conflict.
And what happened to the Bailie Nicol Jarvie Hotel on the corner at the foot of the pass?
The good Bailie being a character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel, ‘Rob Roy.’
It’s been converted to flats; but it used to host dozens of less energetic clubbie boys whose hangover didn’t permit their climbing The Dukes.
They’d stand with their pints and holler comic remarks at the likes of me as we changed down to bank right and attack the climb.
With Ben Peacock a ‘no show’ it looked like a two horse race to us with both Goldsworthy and Doyle looking suitably impressive as they charged along Aberfoyle High Street.
The day was changing as quickly as it takes to write about it – cloud, sun, drizzle, breeze, calm…
Martin and Gillian picked me up, having driven down off The Dukes and we headed out ‘against’ the race to watch the riders fighting in to the finish up that cruel drag from the Lake of Menteith.
The drag is a good barometer of who’s going well – and who’s not.
The former surge up it without missing a beat, the latter are out of the saddle and/or tying up.
Barry Wilson (Dundee Thistle) was fastest on Gillian’s watch until Lawley hurtled past looking every inch a man on top of the job – there was little need to look at a watch.
At the start we’d heard him hope for wet roads to make the technical course even trickier.
With just Goldsworthy and Doyle to come it looked like the top three was sorted – just the order to decide.
Goldsworthy was ‘on it’ – again there was little need to consult a watch but the man in blue was a minute up on Lawley on Gillian’s watch.
Doyle had been half-a-minute clear of Goldsworthy atop The Dukes so we expected him post haste behind – but not a bit of it; and it was a weary-looking Arthur, not in his usual ‘cruise missile’ mode, who lifted himself off the saddle near the top of the drag.
Goldsworthy had pulled back his 30 seconds and added another minute.
Gillian looked to be correct when she said that Doyle may drop to third as his margin on Lawley was just 10 seconds – the Herbalife man was full of riding and Doyle wasn’t.
However, at the line Doyle still had four seconds in hand.
The first question we asked Goldsworthy was whether he’d prepared specifically for the race, or ‘just turned up and rode?’
“The latter; whilst it’s a race I’ve always wanted to win, all of my energies have been going into pursuiting.
“I didn’t taper for it – I trained right up to it, but once I had left the start I gave it my all.
“I started steady but my legs were really sluggish on The Dukes and it definitely wasn’t in the game plan to give away so much time to Arthur and Steve by the top of The Dukes. But my legs woke up off the descent and I had good legs from there on.
“The descent of The Dukes wasn’t too bad, some of the bends were wet, some dry and it was similar along the Lochs section – but that’s the nature of the race, isn’t it? I kept a little bit in reserve for that last section in from Port of Menteith – I’ve ridden the race often enough to know how hard that part can be.
“I tried to time it so the tank was empty just as I crossed the line.
“Next up for me are the Scottish track champs; as for going for the sub 4:30