Cycling club couple take their bikes from Ayr to Vietnam

Alan and Kathryn Thomson during a cycling holiday
Alan and Kathryn Thomson during a cycling holiday

Ayr Roads Cycling Club members are not all involved in the competitive side of their sport.

Many enjoy the touring scene, by participating in non competitive events such as cyclo-sportives and general touring activities.

Last year was not only a successful one for the club’s racing fraternity but a highly successful one for the cycle tourists, at home and in Europe.

Two of the most enthusiastic club members on the touring front are the husband and wife team of Alan and Kathryn Thomson, whose palmares extends to numerous tours and sportives at home and abroad. They have just returned from a memorable holiday to Vietnam.

On this occasion, their trip took them to North Vietnam which entailed a fourteen hour train journey from the south, to Hanoi in the north; an experience in itself!

From there they crossed over to Vietnam’s seaboard where they cycled down the east central coast route, taking in the splendour of the South China Sea and the Gulf of Tonkin, before spending the last few days of their holiday on a beautiful island.

They were joined by another four cyclists, including an ironman triathlete from Australia.

Their journey took them by quiet and relatively traffic free roadways and small villages, where they enjoyed the local food and the friendliness of the villagers.

From all accounts, Vietnam is well worth a bike tour. Alan describes the eventful journey and tips for would be travellers, in his blog giantonthegiant.wordpress.com.

The club’s local touring scene is made up of two main weekly club runs and solo efforts by individual members.

Last week, the club’s elderly statesmen clocked up over 60 miles on their mid week run, taking in the Turnberry Hills circuit.

On Sunday with calmer weather following the aftermath of Storm Gertrude, the club’s main outing took to East Ayrshire byways. This was an epic ride with two groups of riders totalling twenty in all.

The route took them by Straiton, Dalmellington to New Cumnock, where a short cut onto snow covered roads forced them back onto the Daleagles road, New Cumnock and homewards.

Over 60 miles covered with one new member on his first run over the moon!

Under the guidance of club captain, the club Sunday run has been altered to suit various abilities. This has proved very popular with new comers.

Meanwhile, the club’s group of juniors has come on significantly in terms of riding skills and road safety.

Under the care of club coach Scott Maclean, all have found their new sport of cycling to their liking and are enjoying the camaraderie of the club.

Recent successes in Cyclo Cross too has rubbed off, with the resurrection of off road cycling.

The club’s Scottish Cyclo Cross Gold medallist, Janet Erskine will be taking this forward. Janet’s exploits will be followed enthusiastically by all.

Ironically, the club’s founder, Davie Bell “The Highwayman” was a member of the Rough Stuff Fellowship - a body of trail blazing cyclists that pre-dated the mountain bike era.

His pass-storming days in the wilds of Ayrshire and Galloway and further afield are legendary.

On the racing front, although a number of cyclo cross events remain, some club members are now re-focusing on their season ahead. Others are just enjoying the pleasure of cycling with a friendly bunch of like-minded folk.

On Saturday, Brian Yates and Fraser Tait were the club and Ayrshire representatives in the South Lanarkshire Cyclo Cross Series. In round 2, Brian was amongst the best in the Scottish Cyclo Cross scene and just missed a podium place, by taking fourth in the senior’s race.

Fraser finished strongly and took 7th place in the veteran’s event. The full results have not yet been published.