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1987 Autumn

The Rest of 1987

Must say that the rest of my 1987 diary is kind of depressing for some reason. Maybe because 1988 was such a good year? Who knows? Anyhow, the rest of 87 is full of entries like ‘Worked in Wally’s shop in freezing cold while getting pestered by wee neds to fix their BMX. Earned 25 quid.’ or ‘No one out. Ride 15 miles on own and then puncture and bottom bracket goes.’ or ‘Rode Crow Road RR. Pouring rain and cold. Dropped along with other Broughty Velo guys in first few kilometres.’ (I mean who puts on a junior road race that starts immediately with the Crow Road???)

Some plus points included:

  • 3rd place on the Dundee Wheeler’s Sweaty Brae Hill Climb, 20 seconds behind Tony Hastie.
  • Glen Farg Sunday run on 6 September. While in the pub we took bets on who would win the world road race championships. A young Craig Whittet said ‘Stephen Roche’ and we slightly older and wiser riders all laughed and said no way, he’s already won Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Tour of Romandy this year... Sure enough Roche did the triple later that day! Maybe more importantly on the way home via the flat Errol detour roads alongside the River Tay, we all not surprisingly needed to pee after scooping all those shandies. We decided the grand wall of a country estate was as good as anywhere and got on and done with business. Except for Derek Cummings. Derek was a useful rider in the Broughty Velo, a few years older than me, but I never saw him race. Derek peed for an eternity. We were all getting edgy and slowly rolling away when a 4x4 turned up with the gamey in it. He wound his window down and said something like, ‘How would you like it if I pissed on your garden wall?’ Derek said, ‘Nature’s call.’ Coincidentally that phrase was often used by a certain Stephen Roche once he began his commentating days with Eurosport.

Craig-Owl-profile1

  • Craigowl is that big lump of a hill lying about 8 km north of Dundee. In the 1980s I was not much of a hill-walker so it did not have a lot of interest for me. On 2nd October 1987 Andy Brewster asked if I’d like to ride up to nearly 1500 feet on my road bike, and on a Friday evening. With memories of the Alps still fresh in my head I said yeah, but... I thought where could it be? You’d need to do about an 80 mile loop for that. Andy then told me that there was actually a tarmac road to the top of Craig Owl! I was not aware of that fact. I immediately imagined sweeping hairpin bends and well graded straights that would let us spin our way up. The reality is somewhat less nice as can be seen from the above profile. Red is more than 10% grade and there are stretches on more than 20%. In a 42x21 it is downright silly. The thin hazy clouds and the rapidly darkening evening light made the hill much bigger in appearance and we both got a bit nervy. But we made somehow with much zig-zagging around. The views are fantastic. The descent was nuts. If you did not care about wandering cows and cattle grids you could most likely get 80mph. I did not try it.
  • 9 October Andy and I go through a great wee glen north west of Kirriemuir. Very remote and desolate and with castles and very steep ups and downs, it feels like we’ve discovered the lost world. We swear to bring the rest of the crew here sometime soon.
  • 11 October and it’s the Broughty Velo sponsored bike ride. It’s a beautiful day, one of those days where you think that if there were more of them you’d never leave Scotland even for a holiday. We lunch in the Glen Isla hotel. With full stomachs Andy and I lead the complete gang, young and old (including Tom) through a wee Glen we’d just found northwest of Kirriemuir...
  • Pass of Marlee: This is what folk did before mountain bikes were popular. Ride ones road bike off road. The Pass of Marlee lies between some place just west of Blairgowrie and Bridge of Cally to the north. It goes over fields and rough land drover tracks. It’s been a Broughty Velo autumn favorite for quite some time and the stories are legendary. There goes one about some kid who got stuck in a mud rut and toppled over bending his front wheel and forks. He was horrified at the damage. Sandy Berry was not going to have this fella phone home for a lift and in true pre-mobile phone, pre-political correctness style, brutally whacked the wheel rideable on a boulder (a trick I used on Andy Fenwick’s wheel about five years later during one run to Brechin) and then used the boily-up camp fire to make the forks straight again. Great stuff! Thankfully none of this was needed on this day even though the diary states I got soaked when I fell into a puddle.
  • Drimmie Classic Ride on 22 November 1987: Jon Carter, Jon Fenwick, Andy Brewster, Dave Milne, Colin Douglas, Craig Whittet, David Boffey, Tom Robertson, Iain Braid, some girl, Tommy Knight (at start) and someone called Phil? Of course Phil was a certain Phil Morris who I did not see again after this day for five years, but after that became a great mate. Those five years were a bit of a waste in my cycling obsessed mind because Phil rode like a star over the steep climbs of Drimmie, spending most of the time on the front. We were all even more impressed by the fact that he did not have a front gear mech and changed between the front rings by hand!! Epic ride and I remember much of it like yesterday.
  • Losing Crash of the Year Award: After my smash during the Dundee District Road Race championships in May I was still in line for the prestigious Crash of the Year Award. On Sunday 6 December 1987 I went with my family to Aberdeen to visit my Gran Murphy. At the same time the Broughty Velo went to Fife which if you’ve been reading carefully tells you that Tom Robertson must have been there. On the way back he crashed and snatched the trophy away from me.
  • Christmas Lunch Ride: Weather wise it was exactly as 1986 with clear, crisp air and frost on the roads. Obviously obeying Bike Christmas Lunch Laws it would be slightly less wild than the year previously. Scientists predict that by the year 2023, the typical Bike Christmas Lunch will be more boring than the House of Lords’ debating EU sub-regulations on thread tolerances.

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