Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Tom loved the bike

There has been a fair amount of reminiscing on cyclesguff of late, so while this guffer is on a roll....There was a gentleman called Tom Robertson that changed the way I look at the world. I met Tom in my early teens, the Peugeot 10 speed I was riding being the catalyst for the chat. The Peugeot was purchased in Nimes, France with money that I'd made by going round the doors and selling Macaroon and Tablet bars and a healthy birthday contribution from my parents. I don't have a sweet tooth, therefore didn't eat my profits. The bike also had a very unusual integrated stem/computer. If my memory is correct, I recall that rare unit being Shimano. I do have a plan to look into this when the time comes.

Probably one of the few times Tom pushed a bike

Tom ran the Broughty Velo Cycle Racing Team and suggested that I come along on a club run. I still remember the late Summer Sunday morning. I crept out of the house, doing my best not to wake everyone and made my way to the club rendezvous - Claypotts Castle. The early morning sun, quiet roads and head full of teenage nervousness reminds me of that classic 80's TV add. I where right 'bout that saddle though.

That day on the bike was the main reason why I still ride to this day. Spending time in the back of the car as kid looking out of the window doesn't prepare you for what is beyond the walls and hedges. Up until then, my knowledge of the countryside and landmarks had not be based on the knowledge that you could use your own steam to get there. Weekends would never be the same and I still remember shocked family members looking in disbelief when informed that I had cycled a 'century'. It was almost a religion that the Sunday bunch stopped for lunch at a milk bar (or pub if some of the old guard had their way). I would be home in good time to take the dogs out for a stroll along Broughty Ferry beach. If you had any pennies left in your pocket, the East Coast recovery tonic, an Ice from Vissochis couldn't be missed. A special mention and thanks must go to fellow rider from back in the day, Nick Kopp. Nick is obviously far more organised than me and has kept his training diaries. His excellent site and contributions from fellow cyclists provides a great account of those magic days.

Tom's knowledge of the countryside, minor roads, paths and places of interest was legendary. He was also a master at chatting up the ladies. His secret was simple, he didn't even know he was doing it. The young lads would just watch in amazement as he held the fort and gave as good as he received. The ladies that ran those milk bars and rural pubs where a force to be reckoned with. He once took us to a great wee cafe beside Dunkeld, one of the old guard ordered a pot of tea for a sizeable bunch of thirsty riders. We all found this funny until a stout lass with forearms thicker than my thighs came out with the biggest pot of tea that I have ever seen. Tom, in his immutable style looked at all the young pups and asked 'right, who's pouring?'

Tom was also the kind of man that didn't think twice about signing us up for some epic charity event. I don't have an exact figure for the monies raised or miles covered, but judging by the reaction of those that received the cheques, the effort was more than worth it.

1987 The Peugeot and Tom that kick started my love of cycling are on the left.

He rode some lovely bikes. His winter hack was always pristine and never out of shape. The frame was an early 531 Dawes tourer. This was also his bike of choice when riding to meet his mate that lived in the Italian Dolomites. They used to enter races there for the over 60's, he usually came back with a medal. His summer bike was one of the most beautiful bikes that I can remember, a powder blue Mal Rees. It was adorned with Campagnolo and just oozed class. His annual mileage was in the region of 10k, I'm happy that I covered at least a small percentage of those miles with him in my early years.

Tom commanded an element of respect that was based on him being a genuinely lovely and generous man, full of enthusiasm and never one to let you down. I miss him dearly.


  1. So nice to see that my Grandad had such a big impact on people. I do miss him.

  2. So nice to see that my Grandad had such a big impact on people. I do miss him.

  3. This is a great story about my Grandad, it takes me back to my half term holidays when he would give me a bike, a cycling shirt and a hat and say we will not go far Scott and it's all flat. He loved to do things like that and then drag me all over the place and up and down the law or carrot hill. My Dad still does this to me today. We all miss you Grandad.