Thursday, 15 November 2012

Colour, Nose, Palate, Body, Finish

The past few weeks have been pretty quiet for the guffers. Injuries, illness and just good old life have put an end to any plans for quality time on two wheels. This weekend may provide a glimmer of hope, but and it is a big but - there's an event taking place in Glasgow, no it's not the UCI World Cup. The guffers will be joining forces to see what else can come out of finely crafted and cared for strips of timber. The nose will be in fine fettle, as for the taste buds, they will be squeezed, smoked and pulled in all manners of directions by the wonderful delights on offer at the Glasgow Whisky Festival. Ah, the joys of a weekend dram in the Arches. 

Sareheids will hopefully be minimised by a strict routine of taking the time to plot a path amongst the stalls. If you believe that, you will believe anything.

We'll do our best to stay upright

Thursday, 1 November 2012


There have been many jokes and quips about the inclement Scottish weather, with a favourite being 'just wait 10 minutes and it'll change'. let's consider last weekend in the West Coast; Saturday greeted those rising from bed with a wonderful clear blue sky courtesy of a high pressure and a light northern breeze. All was good, in fact very good.  The family where about to enjoy a treat of going to the recently opened Sir Chris Hoy velodrome. Once in the car and underway, it didn't take long before the kids level of excitement could be measured with the classic question 'are we there yet'? True to from, this hit home every few minutes.

Upon arrival at the velodrome, I was struggling with the fact that the venue actually exists and is no longer an evocative CAD image. This is not a criticism of other major building and civil engineering works following the plan, budget or even running at all - Edinburgh trams anyone? It's just a sense that Scotland has been waiting for this for a long, long time.  The velodrome is a pleasant geographical and historical reminder to Celtic Park on the opposite side of London Rd. Cycling has most certainly come home to the East End of Glasgow.

The last time a major cycling event was hosted at Celtic Park was in 1897. More than 20,000 cycling fans watched Dubliner, O'Neill winning the 10 mile race. The prize money was £300, not bad for 1897. A manual worker at ship yards would be earning approx. £40 per annum, so putting your body to work on a bike was quicker way, and more than likely a safer way to make a living. The current tracks stars will be back competing in Glasgow at the UCI World Cup from November 16 to 18, let's hope that the prize money is more than £300!

This guffer had been invited to attend the Thunderdrome, courtesy of Graeme Obree, my day job does have some pretty good perks. Soaking up the atmosphere and spinning round from the track centre watching the racing unfold was a treat that I'll remember for a long time. At times, you would literally be stopped in your tracks by the site of yet another legend from the sport. My daughter's autograph book is now filled with Dan Martin, Stephen Roche, David Millar, Sir Chris Hoy and let's not forget Graeme Obree. Sean Kelly, the Dowling brothers, Tiernan Locke and a host of many others where there and no doubt putting in a spot of 'practice' before the Braveheart charity dinner. The opportunity to watch Hoy and his famous contemparies doing what they do best was simply superb. The added bonus was watching Graeme Obree on Old Faithful doing a few laps. As Graeme got into his tuck and showed us all how it's done the cheers and applause from the crowd raised hairs on the back of my neck. Just imagine what the atmosphere would be like if an hour record was attempted at the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome.......

I'm sure that those of us that are parents do have idealistic notions of what it's going to be like taking our kids to a major sporting event. This guffer's first experience of a sporting event in any form of arena/ground/muddy field and was in stark contrast to the velodrome experience. Going to the local football Derby aged 6, frozen to the spot, watching, listening to the crowd and attempting to show some form of interest to what was happening on the pitch was poison in comparison to the velodrome. The real treat was the opportunity for me and my Dad to spend time together without any other family distractions. At one point between races, I was sitting back relaxing watching my daughter taking pics and speaking away with other guests. I started to imagine a scene of a Dad and Daughter going to their seats together for the first time in Celtic Park for Saturday's game. Celtic didn't fair too well on Saturday, if they where Celtic fans, the Thunderdrome would have been money well spent. 

Just for the record, my my daughter's first experience of a footie game was the 2012 Olympics opening round, France v USA (ladies) at Hampden park, she loved it and supported USA right to the end, thankfully they went on to win Gold - ah, the romance of football.

With the clocks changing in the early hours of Sunday morning there was a slight glimmer of hope that the forecasted weather front wouldn't wrong was I to be. I'd signed up for the Glasgow Couriers Cycling Club, Halloween Howler cyclocross race at Glennifer braes on the outskirts of Paisley. Has any form of profanity been used on cyclesguff before? I'm not sure, so this maybe a first. The only word that I can use to describe the conditions is, shite! It was so bad that the seniors race was held off for thirty minutes as the previous race entrants tried their best to finish. 

a place where shoes are lost
Due to the conditions, the senior race was then reduced to 40 minutes and a lap (great decision).  I know that cross has a reputation for being tough, and the past few experiences of blue skies had lulled me into a false sense of security, but that race was bonkers. Cyclesguff salutes those that organised and endured the event, those that where mad enough to came along, spectate and cheer us on. As for the riders, let's hope for the blue skies to return. One memory that I'll take from that race was the view out over Glasgow. It could have been the cold beginning to shut down my brain, but I could swear that there was a heat haze over a certain part of the East End. The balmy climes of the velodrome certainly have an appeal for the winter days ahead.

Stay upright and warm