Petestack Blog

12 July 2010

Bikes, dogs and a Devil’s dram for Dario

Filed under: Cycling,Running — admin @ 11:56 pm

Today was important. It’s a year to the day since Dario Melaragni died so suddenly on Lochnagar and, by decree of the Subversive Firefighting Pirate (sorry… forum link now defunct), West Highland Way Race followers everywhere were going to be taking a wee dram in his memory at 8:00pm. Now, I’d decided to take mine at the top of the Devil’s Staircase (scene of my own little memorial run last July), but was also out for a ride on the mountain bike earlier…

Not got much to say about the bike ride except that I was working hard (nearly 20 miles round the Loch with an additional 4-mile diversion up and down the forestry track above the mausoleum in under 100 minutes door-to-door) and the main ’round the Loch’ part (three times topping 30mph according to the GPS) taking about 68 mins. Which sounds OK for a MTB, but positively pedestrian compared to our young Olympic hopeful Ben Miller’s recent sub-41 on his road bike (something I somewhat disbelievingly have to believe when he was averaging about my top speed today)! But today’s ride was also noteworthy for me getting ‘bitten’ by a dog, as this wee collie about halfway up the forestry track managed to get a nibble (‘she’s never done that before’) at my lower left leg before her owner could get her on the lead. Fortunately (and unusually for me) I was wearing leggings and with no skin broken there seemed little real intent to take my leg off, but it was still a slightly disconcerting experience for someone who’s naturally scared of dogs and I can still just about feel it hours later.

And so to tonight’s dram up the top of the Devil’s. It was pouring just before I set off (giving myself 80 minutes to jog up the ‘long’ side when I’d normally make it over and down to Altnafeadh in about an hour) so I was somewhat overdressed for summer evening running in leggings (another pair), half-zip top, waterproofs, WHW Race buff (the 2010 one with Dario’s name on it) and gloves, but mindful that I might get cold and wet hanging about up there. And, while it didn’t actually rain again, I was quite tired from the hard bike ride (no coasting when you’re pedalling downhill as well as up!), arrived with 15 minutes to spare (during which some walkers came past heading for Kinloch) and was ultimately quite glad of the extra clothing. Then, at 8:00pm on the dot, I breached the hip-flask (filled with Highland Park), made a silly wee speech (yes, really!) and wandered to-and-fro between the twin cairns for about eight minutes until the flask (bigger than it looks?) was empty. And then I jogged back to Kinloch, passing the walkers just beyond the Allt a’ Choire Odhair-mhoir and getting home just before 9:00pm.

For the record, the photos are awful because I took them on my phone and I never take photos with my phone because phones are for phoning and cameras are for photography! But perhaps we can forgive them their awfulness when it’s the spirit (literally in this case!) that matters here. And, more importantly than that, perhaps we can spare another thought for the wee man whose race is still changing lives a year after he left us. On which note I could tell you what I said up at the cairns, but would rather point you towards Keith’s poem (originally posted to his blog on 21 July 2009 but now also to the WHW Race Forum topic linked above), which says it all so succinctly.


  1. Great idea Peter and a fitting tribute

    Comment by John Kynaston — 13 July 2010 @ 7:34 am

  2. Great wheeze, Pete; but I think you are wearing your Buff upside down ;-)

    I’m sure Dario would approve though!!


    Comment by Murdo — 13 July 2010 @ 8:23 am

  3. Ah, Murdo, you can see I’m no good with buffs (never actually worn one before)…

    Hadn’t twigged that you could still get a right end and a wrong end after turning it inside-out and twisting to make a hat, which is a pity because I could have had the ‘Dario’ bit showing (the right way up!). Not to worry, however, because the ‘Buchaille [sic] Etive Mor’ in the second photo is conveniently placed to label the real thing and I’m sure Dario would like that too. :-)

    Comment by admin — 13 July 2010 @ 9:27 am

  4. And I suppose with Dario being up there and looking down on you it is actually the right way up for him to look at it. So you are actually wearing it the correct way after all.

    Too clever by half!


    Comment by Murdo — 13 July 2010 @ 10:00 am

  5. Now why didn’t I think of that? Except that it’s maybe more like me to think of Dario being everywhere… :-)


    Comment by admin — 13 July 2010 @ 10:19 am

  6. An excellent tribute Pete. Highland Park is definitley a whsiky to drink anywhere, any time.
    When I collected the goblets from Glencairn Crystal I was entertained by stories of Dario arriving , and staying for a couple of hours. His first question was inevitably ” any new whiskies in?” (Glencairn make special decanters for centernary or limited edition bottles and often got samples of the whisky they were manufactuing for).


    Comment by Stanb — 13 July 2010 @ 2:16 pm

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