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 Tour de Trossachs ‘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?