Three punctures and a 136kmh max speed
Sunday 22 July to Hailes Castle
Ah, there’s no need to write a blog as Cathy Smiley Riley has done a comprehensive account of her own. Perhaps this should be required of all leaders. But a few observations…
We welcomed Robyn on her first ride back after a long layoff for injury. All morning we were marshalled from the front by Ezekiel – seemingly a younger, darker, moustachioed version of Sir Bill – and from the back by Marian.
There were popular culture and Tour de France themes running through the day. The soft tyre belonged to Roseanne, who it transpired should really be called Essie. She happily co-ordinated a transfusion of air into her tyre.
The next puncture had an interesting take on gender relations in terms of the carrying of bicycle tools. Wife Karen was carrying the one tool Ian claimed he needed to mend his puncture and she was miles ahead. The rest of us didn’t mind the delay as we were gorging on delicious wayside raspberries. And then poor Robyn was welcomed back to cycle touring with two punctures in quick succession.
I can’t see that anyone matched the 136 kmh recorded by Romain Bardet after his third puncture on stage nine of the Tour, but, wind-assisted, we made good time through Haddington and on to lunch at Hailes Castle. (Google can explain how he got to that speed.)
In the meantime Pooch, Yvonne the Stowaway and Irene Paterson were doing their magic disappearing and then re-appearing acts. Now you see them, now you don’t. At least Irene, having magically appeared at lunch, stayed with us throughout the afternoon, perhaps through good back-marking by Sandy.
At lunch there was a Poldark moment as a number of the women riders spotted and unfavourably compared an innocent, older man, stripped to his waist as he worked with his horses, to Aidan Turner.
As we cycled through Athelstaneford I asked one of the other riders if he had caught the name of the big man at the front. He thought for a moment and then said, “no, but Borat perhaps?” It seemed wonderfully apt, but will it stick?
Anyway, that was almost the last we saw of ‘Borat’ as not long afterwards he and Gordon overshot the turning on Bangley Hill and ended up in Tranent enjoying a much longed for liquid refreshment. We know one or two of the Wednesday riders who might have been happy to join them.
At our tea stop in Cockenzie House, some of the women present were enchanted to discover that they can have their bums measured to ensure they get the right size saddle. The group had properly gelled by this time and at Fisherrow we were sad to say goodbye to Cheryl who is returning to Canada and life under a new populist state Premiere.
Tour de Fife
Wednesday 25th July to Falkland
Massed crowds – one man and a dog – gathered expectantly at Roseburn Bridge to wave off the riders in the Tour de Fife, the annual highlight of the CTC race calendar. A helicopter (a holiday-maker playing with a video camera mounted on a drone) buzzed overhead to record every move and excitement of this famous race. And on behalf of race sponsor, Fife Tourist Board, show off the fabulous locations of Puddledub, Cardenden and Cowdenbeath.
For the benefit of newcomers, Race Controller, Sir Bill explained that 10 points are awarded for the winner of each stage, with 8 and 6 points for the second and third riders across the line. Riders also compete for a King of the Mountain jersey, with 4 points for a category three climb, 6 for a category two climb and 8 for a category one climb. The peloton would be back-marked by Brian ‘Sunny Orange’ Curtis
Team WhatsApp had had to scratch when Gordon failed doping control as the team doctor, Dame Iron Sides had been feeding him performance enhancing drugs in an effort to get him fit to compete.
Stage 1, from Roseburn to Inverkeithing included a category 3 climb, but there was a mass sprint at the top, in deference to the Race Controller, so no overall winner could be identified. The stage was won by Ewen, for Team Brompton, but as he had only joined the stage at Cramond Brig he was docked 5 points. Second and third were Posterboy for Team Athena and Cheryl (SA) for Team Safaricom.
In stage 2, from Inverkeithing to Auchtertool, Marian suffered a nasty fall trying to execute a 90 degree turn. Clearly winded and with a sore ankle, she was soon back on her bike as lead rider for Team Monday Girls. “If this had been the Tour de France you would all have been away in a few seconds,” she thanked other concerned riders.
The stage descended into further chaos as the Race Controller suffered a sudden loss of air pressure in his tyre. He sent every one off as he tried to fix it, but no one was clear whether there were now two races, an A and a B one, and who was in which race. The one category 2 climb appears to have been won by Posterboy, although he could have been pipped by Rachel of Team Perfect Pooches.
A disclaimer should be added here, as your reporter, who was unsuccessfully ghosting in Team Safaricom for his fellow countryman, Chris Froome, was not always in the best position to see who had reached the summit first or won the stage. He had recruited a local stringer, Billy-Bob Fowler to report from the front, but as he spent most of the ride giving a lot of care and attention as back-marker, he was in no better position to report.
Stage 3, from Auchtertool to Tanshall, descended into farce as, after the recommended toilet stop at the golf club, no one could find the lunch spot. Frantic riders were asking every available passer-by for directions and eventually all gathered in the park. As a result no stage winner points were awarded. Teams Athena and Evergreens were weakened as Jill ‘the Planks’ McBain and ‘Sunny Orange,’ with the permission of the Race Controller, scratched from Stage 4 and took alternative routes home. ‘Sunny Orange’ however, completed the regulation 80+ miles.
Stage 4, Tanshall to Falkland included the main climb of the day, a category 1 climb. With the field well spread out, Ewen confirmed that he had won the climb and also the stage. On the fast descent into Falkland a serious incident happened to no other than Alistair ‘Crash’ Cranston as a rear spoke broke and mangled his chain and derailleur. Luckily he was able to control his bicycle and no accident or injury ensued. He decided however to retire at Pillars of Hercules, the ride’s designated pit-stop.
Stage 5, from Falkland to Scotlandwell saw another retiral from the Evergreens, with Phyto-Phil pulling out to make his own way home with Liz ‘the Hipster’. Ewen was again breaking away from the pack, winning both the category 2 and category 3 climbs. No one in the peloton was prepared to organise to give chase; most seemed to want to behave like Basil Fotherington-Thomas (from ‘Down With Skool’), with his curly blond locks, and skip along saying, “hullo sky, hullo sunshine, hullo view.” But Ewen suffered a puncture within sight of the stage finish and finished well down in this and the following stages. Posterboy or Cheryl (SA) would have won the stage.
Stage 6, from Scotlandwell to Inverkeithing was a much more urban stage than heretofore. The category 2 climb was probably contested between Posterboy and Cheryl (SA) as was the stage win. Unfortunately Mark ‘Can’ McCann was also forced to retire, leaving only Sir Bill standing as the final member of Team Evergreens. Team Perfect Pooches, sponsored by local dog grooming salon, Perfect Pooches of Lochgelly, attracted much support with local dogs barking them on their way.
Stage 7 was meant to be from Inverkeithing to the start, but no one wanted to race any more. Some took the train, others had cars in Inverkeithing or South Queensferry. All made their weary way home as best they could, after 80 gruelling miles. Preliminary results indicate that Ewen should be awarded both the polka dot and yellow jerseys.