The Farmer

This article appeared in the Herald. Charlie Allan, a Farmer from Methlick near Ellon (and Ythan CC member), wrote a weekly column entitled "The Farmer's Diary".

The Farmer gets on his bike

farmer.gif (16934 bytes)

"You're 50 seconds late - are you trying to be last
and win the booby prize?"



I have to tell you that the farmer is the subject of a stewards inquiry. It is really most embarrassing and I wasnít going to tell you. But who would read a diary in which only the successes were recorded?

It would never have happened if I hadnít decided to take up cycling.

That would have been a smart move if it was taking the bike down to the pub rather than hazarding the licence. But thatís not what I have embarked on.

You see I have raked out an old racer that must have belonged to one of the Wasting Assets when they were younger and joined the Ythan Wheelers [Poetic licence calling us wheelers - President Ythan Cycle Club]. I have put my foot on the bottom rung a ladder at the top is the maillot jaune in the Tour de France or the gold medal in the Olympic games.

You could be excused for thinking that I had left this endeavour a bit late but the truth is I have wasted at least half my total energy in sport since I first got into the school football team 48 years ago.

After too long at that sort of ball game and becoming good enough at tossing the caber to get my photo in the papers, I have become so overcome with arthritis in my knees that I had to stop. In my forties I discovered that with the aid of a skilfully controlled limp I could protect my worst knee sufficiently to allow me to train for and complete several marathons. Now it is easy enough for these crackshots you see on the telly to do a marathon. They do the 26 miles in little more than two hours. But the middle aged farmer, on the starting grid at 16 stone, is fully four hours from the home straight.

Before the farmer was 50 even the shortest and slowest of trots became impossible, that seemed to be that. A sporting life seemed to be over. Terminal decline had apparently set in.

It was an advert in the local Squeek that gave me the idea of trying the bike. The Ythan Wheelers were advertising for new blood. There was no mention of just how new this blood had to be so I decided to try it. A wee run on the bike the night before the first ten mile race showed that the pedalling put no strain at all on the arthritic joints.

After the race my unfit body was sore all over- except the knees. The mussels ached but the joints were untouched.

Hallelujah ! the farmers infatuation with sport can continue.

I was last of course. The winner took 24 minutes and I just managed to beat 40 minutes.

By the next race I had improved quite a lot technically. That means I didnít once have to stop to put my chain back on. I was down to 37 minutes and becoming subject to speed thrill, though still last.

Which brings us to last Sunday morning when I due to be first off at seven oí clock.

That suits me fine because with 45 competitors leaving at one minute intervals the best cyclist (who starts last) would have to arrive before he had started if he were to overtake a 37 minute man like me. I was bound to be home at least seven minutes before him.

All the same I did my best to foul up that advantage. You are supposed to appear with a clean bike and I was still cleaning mine when I should have been at the start. With a flurry of officials I finally made the off 50 seconds late - and that delay was to prove important.

Soon the crackshots were speeding past me as usual, but all was not well. I was uncomfortable. In forty years of competitive sport I have never before started at 7am , unless you count the time I competed for the caber tossing championship in Australia. They said it was 5pm but I knew fine it was 5am in Scotland where it counts. I knew my geography even then.

What was worst was that I have a very excitable digestive system which needs attention at about 7.30am. And then in my excitement I had forgotten to start the stop watch on my on-board computer, so I had no idea where I was. Anyway I finished and slunk off home to waken the Breadwinner with an encouraging cup of tea. I had hoped to hear no more of that days race but that was not to be. The phone rang that evening "you went off without your prize." It took me only a few seconds of breathless excitement to modify my guess to there being a booby prize.


"What was it?"

"Seven pounds"


Well not really. Bang goes my chance of an Olympic Gold Medal. Bang goes my amateur status. My pinnacle will have to be the Tour de France.

"And do you want the bad news? Theyíre accusing you of cheating. If you hadnít started 50 seconds late you wouldnít have been last and someone else would have won the seven pounds. What some folk will do to get their name in the paper".

I have always known that the race was not always to the swift or the battle to the brave. Now it appears that the same applies at the other end. The spoils of defeat may be denied to the slow and the cowardly.

Charlie Allan







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