Q: Did your family encourage you into cycling?
My parents were very active club cyclists from Yorkshire who used to holiday and tour on bikes. Here is a photo of my mum Eileen holidaying in Wales and my dad on his racer!
My eldest sister used to travel around in a sidecar that was built by my grandfather and fixed onto a tandem cycle in the 1950s.
Q: What! A tandem sidecar?
Yes, my grandfather who must have been in his forties, made a side car with a steel chassis; he worked for Richardson’s Steel in Sheffield and no doubt scrap metal was readily available. It was for my sister when she was a tot, and they weren’t uncommon in Sheffield when most families didn’t own cars. I don’t have a photo of it and when my older brother came along it was superseded by the first family car. It probably looked a bit like this:
©Image kindly provided by Colin at www.onlinebicyclemuseum.co.uk
Q: All bike enthusiasts remember their first bike and its qualities or limitations! What was your first bike?
My first adult sized bike was a 1966 Carlton Criterium (Reynolds 531 tubing) which I got from my brother when I was 11yrs old. With my father’s direction I resprayed and rebuilt it. I am still riding this bike today although all that is left is the frame which is 57 years old! It has had two frame repairs and many paint jobs as well as getting treated internally for rust every few years. It only gets ridden on nice days now.
1966 Carlton Criterium
Q: How did you qualify as a UK MTB Leader for Scottish Cycling?
I started leading MTB rides and maintaining a fleet of mountain bikes in 1988 for PGL adventure holidays. I qualified as a Mountain Bike Leader in 2016. Prior to achieving my CYTECH Level II Mechanic qual., I worked in a bike shop in SW London for 5 years and various other outdoor centres. I have been working for “Wilderness Scotland” as a freelance guide since 2018. This year I have led tours through Dumfries, Galloway, Arran, the Outer Hebrides end-to-end and sections of the North coast 500. Personal cycle tours have been through Ireland, Crete, Morocco, Majorca, Tenerife and the French Alps.
Morning ride briefing, Uist, Outer Hebrides 2023
Q: There’s obviously the importance of knowing how to undertake trailside fixes – what was one of your most complex scenarios?
A memorable one was a broken spoke in the rear wheel of my friend’s bike; I didn’t have the correct tool to remove the cogs with. So, a rock served as a hammer and with a screwdriver I managed to dismantle the cogs and all the tiny bearings and springs. The spoke was finally replaced, and the wheel straightened. The cogs were rebuilt with Moroccan margarine as grease! Apparently, it lasted nearly a year after the tour before it failed and was replaced!
Evening ride on the Isle of Arran 2013
Q: How has bike use changed since you’ve been on Arran?
When I first came to Arran there were only 5 or 6 regular road cyclists that I knew of and 20-odd mountain bikers in the Arran Bike Club. The numbers have increased quite a lot with post Olympic and Tour de France success for British riders, and then again during lockdown. There are now already a least 5 separate cycling groups on the island including the Arran High School work with young triathletes and mountain bikers and the latest adult group being an E-bike Group who meet up weekly.
Q: What snacks do you use to refuel?
It varies from savoury pies/pizzas and sandwiches and cake when touring and training tends to be chocolate, oat/fruit, sweets.
Thank you, Wally!
Photo for an exhibition of portraits by Christopher Hogge
Come and meet Wally on Tuesdays at The Ormidale Pavilion, Isle of Arran for bike maintenance, 11-3pm