My dad came from a family of cyclists: Rafferty is a well-known name in the world of Scottish cycling. At a young age he decided getting dropped on a bunch run wasn’t for him. But he retained his enthusiasm for the sport. When I was young we would watch the Tour de France on Channel 4, back when there was no other cycling on the telly. Although we went to the odd local race and saw the Tour of Britain (Robert Millar in the flesh!) in Glasgow, to me the TdF was cycling.
I still remember the commentary of Phil and Paul, the old theme music with the bendy guitar and synthy outro and I remember the legendary names of riders who graced the TV and the tarmac; those who came from close to home, like Kelly, Millar & Roche and the more exotic names like Delgado, Fignon & Indurain.
Of course I had a bike and would go out and about sometimes on the paths and roads nearby, but never really straying far. I never connected what I was doing with the big boys in France. Never thought I could be a professional bike racer or even knew about local clubs and a burgeoning Scottish scene.
As I got older I began to lose interest in cycling, both as a hobby and as a sport. And by my early 20s I rarely got on the bike and didn’t care about the tour and the cheating associated with it.
Then I moved to Holland, the promised land of cycling, a Utopia on two wheels and I slowly fell back in love with the bike. I discovered the joys of one day races: classics like Paris-Roubaix and San Sebastian and the other Grand Tours. I also saw some mad slithering about in the mud that Belgians called veldrijden (cyclocross). I even got back on the (city) bike and did a wee bit of cycling myself.
After 9 years of living in the flat lands I returned to Scotland to be with the woman I loved and would later marry, but also with a rekindled love of cycling. I had to give my bike up when I moved back and it took a couple of years to get a replacement.
Since getting back on to the bike I have racked up the miles on my own and on club runs with Stirling Bike Club. I have also turned my hand (or should that be pedal?) to sportives, club time trials, hill climbs and Cyclocross races. My record on these events is not one to be proud of, but I am proud of the fact I have participated. For me pinning a number to my jersey is an achievement in itself.
I have also recently started the track cycling accreditation process at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow. It has not got to the stage where I think I am Sir Chris himself but I am having fun.
Each of these types of cycling is different to the others.
Sometimes in small ways: a longer solo/club run and a sportive are not too different.
Sometimes in much bigger and more obvious ways: riding a bike with no brakes on the track or running up steep gradients with your bike on your shoulder during ‘cross are examples of that!
It makes me sound like a jack of all trades, riding all these disciplines, but I am certainly a master of none.
The Dutch have a phrase which has a similar meaning to jack of all trade: 12 ambachten, 13 ongelukken. The literal translation is 12 trades, 13 accidents. I am working towards the 12 ‘trades’, I hope I don’t have the 13 accidents.
Anyway thanks for reading and next time less about me!!!