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Should Inverurie celebrate its historic World Champion Cyclist?

By David Porter

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Earlier this week we told the story of Ion Grant Nevile Keith-Falconer, the third son of the 8th Earl of Kintore, whose family seat is at Keithhall near Inverurie and his exploits which saw him proclaimed cycling World Champion in 1878.

Judy Whyte and Mark Fraser with a copy of the Illustrated History of Cycling which tells the story of Ian Keith-Falconer. Picture: David Porter
Judy Whyte and Mark Fraser with a copy of the Illustrated History of Cycling which tells the story of Ian Keith-Falconer. Picture: David Porter

Owner of the Pedal Power cycling shop in Inverurie, Mark Fraser was made aware of an article that detailed the story of Mr Keith-Falconer and his local connections and having just had the opening stage of last year’s Tour of Britain come through the centre of Inverurie and the biggest ever World Championship cycling event in history coming to Scotland later this year, thought the time was right to reacquaint people with the sporting legend.

Mark commented: "A regular customer of mine who is researching a local history book came past one day and knew I was into cycling history.

"I was pretty amazed at this, and had no idea about him.

Ion Keith-Falconers exploits are illustrated in the work.
Ion Keith-Falconers exploits are illustrated in the work.

"Ion Keith Falconer was recognised in 1878 as champion, he seemed to be able to turn-up and in some cases forget he was supposed to be racing and still turn up and win races.

"At 6'3" he had a distinct advantage over a lot of his competitors at the time, on what was a large bike that was almost identical to a Penny Farthing.

"He did Lands End to John O'Groats in 13 days, which at the time must have been an amazing achievement given the roads and infrastructure of the country at the time."

On modern cycling he added: "Given the times he recorded for distances on the machinery he used and road conditions, he would even today be right up there at the sharp end of modern competitors.

"With the World Championships coming as a complete event this year, we should be celebrating a World Champion."

His sentiments were echoed by Provost Judy Whyte: "As a local from Inverurie, I was keen to hear about his achivements.

"This is a wonderful local story with national and international interest.

"Aberdeenshire Council has invested and continues to invest in cycling opportunities through our schools and clubs and in resources for places to cycle.

"This is a great opportunity to link the past with the present - perhaps a cycle race or award in his name would be a great idea to celebrate the historic link with the town."

And now with the biggest cycling event the world has ever seen, coming to Scotland from the August 3 to 13, Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) are offering 50 per cent grants to provide Secure Bike Storage for for visiting mountain bikers and cyclists.

Funding assistance of up to £500 is available to enhance the provision of secure storage facilities for bikes.

This contribution is a maximum of 50 per cent of overall project costs to improve the mountain bike and cycling visitor experience.

Costs may comprise equipment, installation, preparation and setup.

Previous round of this scheme focussed on upgrading bike storage facilities for accommodation providers.

This round is now broadened out to offer benefits to more businesses and in Aberdeenshire it now includes provision for other outdoor adventure activities.

Visit https://dmbins.com/campaigns/secure-bike-storage-scheme/ for details.

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