THE £100-odd to be raised by a couple of cycling buddies turned into £9,000 and counting when nearly 90 people cycled the inaugural Tour de Lauder for charity on Saturday.
Bikers in lycra on racers and in jumpers on clunkers tackled the 50 and 86-mile hilly routes to raise the cash for Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS) in memory of Lauder policeman Steve Cully.
His wife Rosie said: “It was a truly memorable day and, wow, would Steve have loved it. I do feel an incredible pride at the money raised – it’s a true testament to the great guy he was.
“The community of Lauderdale has rallied round, given me support and gave me the strength to become involved in helping set the cycle up. A lot of the strength also came from Steve and his amazing positive attitude to life – his motto was always to stay fit, healthy and positive.”
The 41-year-old ultra marathon runner died suddenly last September, leaving caterer Rosie and their two children, Hannah and Josh, then aged six and three.
Rosie thanked everyone as she started the ride of 87 cyclists from Thirlestane Castle.
My [Sally’s] friend Hils Evans and I were doing the 50-mile route, pedalling out of Lauder over the hill to Stow, across some more hills (they featured quite a lot) to Clovenfords before starting to head up the back road to Innerleithen (for coffee, gasp, coffee).
But what’s this? A “road closed” sign? And 400 mountain bikers? They were recording times for Sunday’s national downhill series, biking along the tarmac to go up the forest and hurtle back down again. We cycled on. Nothing was going to get between me and that latte. Except perhaps the upcoming refuelling stop – it was carb-lovers’ heaven on a table. Lovely, lovely, lovely volunteers had baked – a lot.
Three shameless laps later, we left... (please may I have the banana bread recipe? Actually and the flapjacks one, oh and...)
We biked up behind Innerleithen on to the Heriot turn-off where we met an Edinburgh cyclist who’d driven out the city to do a few hill repeats (they’re mad, cyclists, mad I tell you). He said: “Are you racing?”
Oh, dear me, I was flattered. Luckily I was already sitting, burrowing into food parcels for more flapjack.
Cycling on we met fellow pedaller Kate Jackson who rued the day Charlie’s Angels was invented. Near Fountainhall, famed folk musician Archie Fisher was out taking a puppy a walk. “Hellooooo,” I shouted (on the strength of having interviewed him, once), but I couldn’t stop, it was a downhill bit, you understand.
Then I thought Fountainhall was Stow i.e. near the end (obviously hadn’t swept enough of that bake table into Hils’ backpack). At Stow proper I cycled resolutely past the coffee shop, then got caught walking up the climb out by some 86-milers. It was a privilege to be among everyone there, the fantastic organisers who kindly let me take part, having just turned up on the day, the amazing volunteers who’d baked, marked the route, supported and cheered us round, and the cyclists. Never have I been passed by a nicer bunch of speed freaks. Really.
Highlights? Amazing route, wonderful people. Lowlights? Patting adventurer Mark Beaumont’s arm and telling him congratulations on his recent wedding. Oh dear Lord, I don’t even know him. And possibly the third lap of the traybake table.
One of the organisers, Carol Cooke, said: “The day was an amazing success. The community effort on show was just incredible.”
She thanked the helpers, support van drivers and marshals (all Lauder residents), locals and riders’ families who baked, Lauder fruit shop W. and A. Williamson for bananas, venue Thirlestane Castle for support and the Lauderdale Hotel for providing with free dinners and a disco.
PS: They’re going to do it all again next year.