|Date||Thursday 29th August 2013|
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Tragedy. Welcome back to Sport News and we are hearing of a dramatic event out there on the tour de coast and it seems it could be tour over this year for Kent’s wannabe leader and so close to the finish. So over to our man on the spot, Phil McLeg-giveitarest – so Phil what’s the latest?
Phil: Well Gabby, quite extraordinary as ever. Frankly, though my name is Phil not Frank but that would make Philly and that sounds all wrong! Anyway I can say that since records began we have never had a day on the tour quite like this. The Kent seasoned pretender for the cherished yellow jersey was out and away early, enjoying the warm morning sun on his back, going well with just a gentle westerly to the head, then it went all horribly wrong
Gabby: Wow, give us the details, Phil
Phil: Well Gabby it was a crazy time but first up, Gaz had his first ever puncture on tour, no more than 7 miles out. He seemed to be getting it fixed though having a little difficulty being totally rubbish unfortunately at this kind of thing but the assistance of a passing guy with all the kit really helped and he was soon on his way again.
Gabby: But things got worse, we hear?
Phil: Well Gabby, out here it really is a stunning coast and mostly a dream of a ride although there are some real, tough nightmare climbs. Gaz was going so well, picking up the pace after the early hiccup but then a mere 6 or 7 miles from the finish, would you believe it but a second puncture?
We think Gaz knew straightaway there could be no way back from that and it really was the end of the big man’s tour for this year so he nipped into Lidyll and bought a few sympathetic beers.
So he will need to come back to Buckie next year to carry on. Tough and that’s what the tour is all about but we reckon he will have learnt from this experience and pack 2 repair kits next time!
I was however able to get to the man and ask him a few questions. So Gaz, how are you feeling?
Me: Well gutted, obviously and that’s the tour for you but the upside is that I have to come back to this amazing place next year and I have just picked up some dead cheap, good beer
Phil: So there’ll no be a whooping and hoolering in the clubhouse to cheer thee crossing the whitewash?
Phil: Well, no chance of you jumping out from the back of a pack of bears and darting like a fox down a chicken hole across the white line?
Phil: But the tartan gals and lads down in the borders will still be cheering ye to the rafters as ye storm all the way to the finish line
Me: Phil, you’ve just morphed into Bill Mclaren
Phil: Oh, back to the studio
Sad but true, a second puncture at Buckie with no inner tube left and it was game over. A real shame because the ride was a cycling beauty most of the way. Steady but ok climbs with long sweeping descents along clear cycle path or empty country roads, apart from one stretch of the main A road, a lovely coast, stopping for a mid afternoon beer at Whitehills and only one or two nightmare hills
But saved by the people running the B + B I stayed because not only did they come the 6 miles to pick me up but also drove me to Halfords in Elgin this morning where I got wheel fixed so I could make the train home.
Big, big relief. Homeward bound. …
Well, now safely on the train speeding towards King’s Cross and Marcial is dead right it is weird to be flying past many places not along ago I was pedaling furiously through – and for some places like the cliffs at Arbroath, furious is putting it lightly
It was a strange tour overall. It had real high moments, the meet up with tour pioneer Marcial in Berwick being the top obviously. There were a few very funny times but there wasn’t the same level of thrills n spills of last year’s vintage tour. And cycling through. Newcastle seeing kids in their new footie shirt proudly advertising Wonga was a disconcerting start to say the least
But much of tenor of the tour, not the Pavarotti kind of tenor mind you though many a Geordie kid in the above Wonga kit had all the hallmark attributes apart from the voice, was probably as much due to the places I stayed. Some like Fraserburgh were very depressed and the lack of work and wages very evident or others like Spey Bay, miles from anything resembling night life unless of course you count a passing bottle nose dolphin or two.
I guess the other reason was that I was finding the cycling much harder this year and I was more inclined to get an early night and an early start the next morning for any impending incline
Weather has been generally kind, especially with the SWs going up the coast and the easterly from Berwick to Edinburgh a surprising gift although the long day into Belford was a sodden pig and the day of cycling tragedy or buffoonery depending on your perspective into Buckie had started off fine but by late afternoon the light westerly head wind had turned full force requiring a ridiculously low gear just to move forward at times
But the coast up here really is a stunner. Whether that be wide, sweeping sandy bays, dramatic cliff tops or historic and picturesque fishing harbours. For scenery alone this has been the best year so far. Not forgetting Lindisfarne, add in the obvious attractions of Edinburgh (not the cobbles though), the extraordinary experiences of cycling across the Tyne, Forth and Tay and yes it has been a quietly memorable week
And so to the podium for the tour awards. It is customary to hand out the black jersey, unique to the TdC for acts of despicable evil. Now there were a few runners for this one. The person(s) responsible for plotting the cycle path through Edinburgh for sure. Those who have tried this route know that it is either a potholed tarmac experience you expect in Beirut or vicious cobbles – either way its not Good Vibrations!
Others in the frame being the traveller I encountered by some quarry when I missed a NC 1 sign. Gypsy, tramp or thieve I have no idea but I didn’t like the tone of his invective dialect, way too much like ‘you’re not from round these parts’. I wasn’t going to point out the obvious that neither was he or his caravan but just turned turtle up the hill away from his yapping menagerie
And the farmers who spread the most foul smelling stuff known to man on the fields here, think BFG snozzlecumber or the toilets at the Nep and go up a few factors – in any other year that shirt would be theirs with ease
But no because there is a clear, fly away winner here. The t*sser from Arbroath who led me to believe I could survive the perils of the coastal, well you can’t call it a path, into Montrose. I would have had more chance of making it through the Kyber Pass. Chatting to some locals at a coffee stop in Portsnoy they informed me that those very cliffs had recently claimed the life of a jogger and some bloke they knew had nudged his wife over the edge only then a few weeks later he produced a Thai bride 30 years his younger. Maybe they had been talking to the same bloke I did. Give the man his black shirt and someone quietly ring the police
Ok, next is the white shirt for the best young rider. And a twist for the tour this year because it goes not to a person but a town, Berwick upon Tweed. It has the lot. A really, lovely old walled town, some cracking beer, a great place to stay (YHA)and a top notch curry. Its a town I’ve always had a secret passion for. A long time ago I fell for the maverick idea of the town’s football club being in England yet playing in the Scottish league. Brave battling little Englanders fighting against the mighty Celtic foe over the border. A kind of braveheart in reverse. So taken with this I wasted no time in painting my man utd subbuteo team in the famous Berwick rangers colours and taking them all the way to the European cup final in the after school club where we were beaten by an odd and hotly disputed Ajax goal – the Berwick keeper had been seriously injured by a clumsy size 9 foot (a common subbuteo hazard) and this was before the dawn of superglue so the best airfix stuff was not going to cut the mustard and the shot from Cruyf took keeper clean off the stick and with ball into the net. Sick as a Mcparrot
Now to the green shirt for the king of speed and this is a moment where the lore of the tour gets turned on its head because this one goes to Don Kent. Yes he who was attempting a run of 60 miles up the coast on his 60th birthday and on a lousey weather day too. Ok he’s not quick and if it went to plan would take him more than 15 hours but I defy anyone to match his pace over that distance at his age. Green shirt for Don and a round of applause please
So, the famous polka dot shirt for King of the Mountain. This one is a collective award and goes to all the people in this area who are striving to make an honest living by decent means in a tough, tough time. Its obvious that many of these places were some time ago busy, bustling and chances of work were good. Now, down, depressed and obviously depressing but for anyone who aspires and works to rise above the decline of the mines, the docks and the fishing industry, the KotM shirt is rightly yours for facing up to the mountain that life, and Maggie Thatcher has put your way
And finally the much cherished yellow shirt. Some contenders with good contributions, notably the fish n chip shop in Fraserburgh. Awesome haddock, truly though not such a great name: Fry Dayz??? But no it can only be the good people, Peter, Claire and her dad Bob from Spey Bay who sorted me out big time in my desperate hour of need. They have a cracking B + B there, really comfortable, a top banana breakfast and looking out to the wild north sea from the sanctuary of the Rest makes it a true haven and one of the best I’ve stayed at. Highly recommended.
And there you have it, another year over and as my good mate at the rugby club, Big Dave would say just before the first game of the season, another year wider
I’ve just two more challenges before I can cross this one off for a year and stuff the OS maps on the shelf. Firstly to traverse Saturday night London on bike and then hope this year the last train out, if I make it, goes all the way to Whitstable unlike last year when it stopped at Faversham!
So finally, if anyone is still reading this tripe and you have any interest in either cycling or the coast and certainly if both then this is one of those must do things you stick on your bucket list. Whether its the full shaboodle like Marcial (and hopefully this idiot aboard as well) or if you just feel like exploring a different section of this fantastic British coast, just go for it and join the tour de coast club
Oidche Mmath Caraidean. Which I’m told means ‘good night friends’ in Scottish Gaelic.