Jolene snapped these pics at the Merchant City Festival in Glasgow this past weekend. Met one of the school dads that was the very nicely turned out Flying Scot. The Flying Scot is Glasgow’s own bike maker having made many bikes post-war.
This one has been set up as a fixie – can’t make out the Reynolds stamp on the frame but guessing that it will be a Reynolds 531 frame the standard steel for frame making for the good part of 20 years.
The Flying Scot has a mystique like no other bike in the Glasgow area. Every man over 50 you meet either had one, wanted one or had a mate who had one.
Perhaps 10,000 Scots were made by Rattrays between 1935 and the late ’70s, so there are lots about. In their period they were regarded as good, but not quite as good as the top London makers. Today they are still good bikes, perfectly usable for commuting, touring and pleasure cycling.
This is a very beautiful take on an old skool bike modernised for urban living.
Went for run this morning after 7am and it was already mid 30’s …. decided just to do a nice 8km+ easy run as I was flying later and didnt want to miss out on some exercise today.
I was running around one of the lakes almost on auto plot – the first and last km are on dirt so that slows things down. I looked down as my HRM beeped (I set my Suunto T6 to autolap every km when running on gps) it said a slow 4:52/km so I just relaxed and carried on. When I finished I was washing some kit then looked through my lap times … amazing in that 5 of the km laps are within the second. That really is cruising on automatic … if I tried to do it that steady there is no way I would manage.
I suppose that I have been a little bit like Andy Schleck in that I waited until to-day to make my move as the Desert Roadie on this Blog by kind invite of Rich Crawford. I don’t know how it will turn out but as Jens Voigt philosophises: “I know that I have no chance it I wait for the sprint; if I go with a break then I have a big engine and I have about a 10% chance; for me it is a no brainer”; so here goes.
My name is Chris and I am passionate about road racing. I must be honest and ask that you do not confuse passion with ability and prowess. Either way, I suppose that growing up in Dublin in the 80s and 90s when Sean Kelly was known as the “new Cannibal”, in reverence to Eddy Merkx, and Stephen Roche completed the Giro-Tour double with that memorable La Plagne stage in 1987.
It was very difficult for a kid from Dublin not to be taken along by the gladiatorial hubris that was created by two giants from a small Island taking on the European Campionissimos of their time.
So why the Desert Roadie? I have already outlined my passion for conquering the road without the need for an engine apart from the one that beats ten to the dozen inside my chest but the desert is a more interesting connection; as such places often are. I have recently retired from the British Army, an organisation that introduced me to many of the world’s deserts, particularly, those around Arabia and Central Asia. For myself and my family it was time to do something else and the opportunity came up to work in Baghdad but on a timetable that allows me to see more of my family and still maintain a healthy level of time on the road and to race.
The gyms in Baghdad are crammed with every type of machine and gradient of weight that will help you to embark on Operation MASSIVE, a term used to describe all those who get taken in by the lure of spending their hard earned $ on the latest protein shakes and eating 10 hard boiled eggs for breakfast in conjunction with building that body that will allow them to appear as extras in the next Conan movie.
Sadly, the roadie is not so well catered for. It is the LeMond Rev Master Sport (a slightly older and noisier version of this model or bust. So my regime tends to be a case of mixing some weights with the ritual of adjusting my Rev Master using its ample levers then getting up there and pedalling away.
I describe this situation because as the days pass and my return to the UK draws closer, an anxiousness sets in as I scan the British Cycling calendar for local races. Can I sign-on on the day? Have I put on weight since I have been away (those damned white chocolate cookies)? Have I done enough hard cycling to keep my form? However, like most things in life, the remedy to those questions is already in the past and all that I can do is make sure that I give it my best on the day; if only I had prepared slightly differently! We have all been there!
So, before I wrap up my little introduction in the blogosphere, it would be slightly remiss of me not to give some reasoning as to why I have dipped my toe as it were. To be honest, I am not sure but it will provide me with a hugely different outlet to the other stuff that I am doing out here.
I will endeavour to entertain you with a weekly supplement and in true blogging style it will probably have that impetuous feel of whatever has come to mind or the last thing that has happened to me. As I have done here, I will try to share the odd entertaining story from my travels so far but in the meantime, stay safe, rubber side down and always remember to enjoy the ride
The Desert Roadie
Next week I will share my story about the dangers of the Slums of McLean in Northern Virginia but in the meantime, I commend you to watch this video. I can honestly say that one of these bad boys saved my life:
The Glasgow Bike Station presents a fun ride around the city exploring some of the many green places. Visit checkpoints, complete challenges and gather clues to win prizes.
We’ll meet at Kings Court (outside Bar Mono) at 2pm on Sunday 31st July, finishing in the West End. Everyone welcome, just bring a bike! A map and a pen might help too…
BACKGROUND TO ALLEYCATTING
An Alleycat race is an informal bicycle race. Alleycats almost always take place in cities, and are often organized by bicycle messengers. The informality of the organization is matched by the emphasis on taking part, rather than simple competition. Many Alleycats present prizes for the last competitor to finish (sometimes known as Dead Friggin’ Last or DFL).The first race to be called “Alleycat” was held in Toronto on October 30, 1989 and continued, in its original form, around Halloween and Valentine’s Day for the following five years. In 1993, when Toronto messengers shared Alleycat stories at the first international messenger race (C.M.W.C Berlin), the name and the concept spread far and wide. Regularly organized Alleycats can be found in cities across North America, Europe and Asia. Many smaller cities with no cycle messenger population are also home to alleycats run by the burgeoning urban cyclist subculture.
Alleycats reflect the personality, contemporary environment and level of competition based on the organizer(s). Races may be less competitive and designed to be enjoyed by the local messenger community around set holidays, such as NYC’s July 4 Alleycat, or they may be extremely grueling and designed to eliminate all but the fastest and best overall messenger.
Rules vary, but include:
Checkpoints – The first checkpoint is given at the start of the race, and on arrival the next checkpoint is revealed to the racer. These work in much the same way a messenger would be assigned deliveries over the course of a day. The route to a checkpoint is left up to the rider and showcases a messenger’s knowledge of the area.
Task Checkpoints – In some races upon arriving at a checkpoint the rider may have to perform a task or trick before being given the next location. This allows organizers to be as creative as they desire. Task checkpoints can involve physical tasks, such as climbing stairs, taking a shot of alcohol or hot sauce, performing a skillful trick, or can test the racer’s mind, such as reciting trivia or messenger related knowledge. Often there is not a task at all of the checkpoints in a race and tasks/checkpoints can sometimes be skipped (potentially at a loss of points) if a rider feels that time to complete a task is not worth the points they would earn.
Checkpoints Up Front – A common format is for organizers to give the checkpoints/manifest 5–30 minutes before the start of the race. This allows the rider to choose the best route between stops.
Point Collection – Some races use a scavenger hunt style race where each stop is worth a certain number of points. These are often races of the Checkpoints Up Front variety and a rider may decide to not stop at some checkpoints valuing an earlier completion time over the points a particular stop may earn them.
Riders do not wear conventional race numbers; instead, “spoke cards“, originally Tarot cards but now often specially printed for the event, have the rider’s race number added with a marker pen and are then wedged between the spokes of the rear wheel. Spoke cards are often kept on the wheel by riders as a souvenir, leading to an accumulation of them over time.