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Early 1980s

In 1981 we moved a short distance to a detached house on the Arbroath Road where my parents still live. I continued to ride the green Halfords machine on sunny weekends with Jonathan Carter and another school friend Ian Middleton. We’d inevitably head on up to Monikie, about seven miles or so from my parents house. Compared to Holland, this route may as well be Alpe d’Huez. There are three climbs with the first two being rather insignificant save for wearing you down. The final climb up to Monikie village itself was (and is I guess considering my rollercoaster fitness these days) rather harsh especially on a five speed green Halfords bike that was increasingly too small for me. It would be 1986 before I’d replace it as computers took precedence over bikes for a few years.

Mostly we didn’t go much further than Monikie. We’d lie around the country park and eat sandwiches and slowly decide to head on home. The return route via Lucky Slapp is quite stunning one realizes after many years away from Dundee. The city is below and the River Tay shimmers beyond in the direct late afternoon light, the hills surrounding it lonely and tempting.

Two days stand out in all that time. One day we of course went further than we always promised. I’d been studying the OS maps and seen amazing roads stretching way off over the Sidlaw hills that encircle Dundee to the north, and would wonder if I’d ever be able to cycle as far as places such as Glen Isla and Glen Prosen on the other side of Strathmore. They seemed so exotic and remote, and I also saw many roads marked with little black arrows representing 1 in 7 gradients or more! 

But first it was time for ‘Big’ Monikie. Jonathan duly crashed somewhere way beyond the no go limit, was patched up by some old couple in an old roadman’s cottage, and we all swore that the official story was he crashed near Lucky Slapp…

Carrot Hill near Broughty Ferry, Dundee

Carrot Hill. Source: http://oak.cats.ohiou.edu/~braselto/photos/carrothill.html

Another time, Ian Middleton and I went way round the back of a place called Carrot Hill. This is a nasty climb and even good racers try to avoid this guy after a long ride. Ian and I climbed it for the first time on a day when the cloud dropped low and shrouded the summit. We were disorientated and creeping slowly along what appeared to be a descent! Ian stopped and squirted water on the road and we watched it roll up hill! Later there was no doubt of the hills inclination. I just made it in first gear and accepted that perhaps ten gears were more useful than I’d thought. Ian walked up and not surprisingly when in 1986 Jonathan and I joined the local cycling club, Ian didn’t join us.

There is also one little footnote I’d like to add to this section. One night I was walking home up Fairfield road to the Arbroath Road when I heard a truck hurtling along that road from the city. I couldn’t see it but I could hear that it was shifting, it was like it was in overdrive and couldn’t go faster. It hammered past my house and then I noticed that tucked in behind was a racing cyclist! I mean he was about a foot from the back of the steel monster. I am certain to this day that this rider was none other than the infamous Sandy Berry of the Broughty Velo CRT.

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