I’d been meaning to catch up with George for quite some time, but schedules and calendars never quite aligned, until recently that was. I caught up with George over a caffeine fix a while back. This is George’s story.
I grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland, which would account for my sense of humour. I lived and worked in London 5 years before moving over to Sydney for 7 years before moving to Adelaide some 5 years ago. After all that roaming, Adelaide will be my Australian base for ever…I love Adelaide Cycling culture and access to amazing rides on our doorstep, food, wine, TDU (Beat Cancer Tour), easy flights via Dubai to Europe. Adelaide is similar sized and mentality to Edinburgh and everyone knows everyone there also, it just feels like the right size of city for me to live in, therefore I live right in the city!
- What first got you started in cycling?
Mountain biking in Scotland, but gave that away as too many injuries and got into cycling in Sydney via IM triathlons
- You’re Scottish, what brought you out to Australia and Adelaide?
See above, plus the usual, weather, outdoor lifestyle, and a more positive mentality to people generally also
- What do you love about Adelaide?
See above plus, walking or riding everywhere with my partner Lisa and..Adelaide really, it’s amazing but shhhhhh, hah 🙂
- Can you tell us a little about your background in Scotland.
I tried everything from the army, chef, sales, mountain/rock climbing guide, and then got into finance/economics as it paid better and I could do all the other cool stuff for fun.
- You run a cycling tour business. Who are they and how did this come about.
I have always spent time in and around mountains in Europe and once I emigrated out to Australia I started organising triathlon/cycling tours back there for friends who didn’t want large group commercial tours. This evolved into Unique Cycling Tours specialising in exactly that. I cap the group size at 11 which allows us to really know our guests strengths and weaknesses, and manage this to ensure everyone has a fantastic experience and the small groups mean we stay in beautiful villas and family run hotels.
- It’s actually more than just a tour business, what else do you do with cycling in Adelaide?
I took on a business partner Stephen Sanders recently that I knew and trusted, which allowed us to expand our European season to include tours that catered specifically to non-cycling partners and added more capacity for cycling groups/friends, plus we added a few Australian tours that we offer to the International market. We also manage tours/events for 3 charities, plus the Beat Cancer Tour which in conjunction with Bade Stapleton we deliver the closest experience amateurs can get to participating in a professional cycling event the TDU.
- They’re all good, but what is your personal favourite overseas tour you run.
I love the Provence/French Alps tour and for 2017 I have partnered with Bike Express to offer a 10 day trip staying in private villas with pool, our own Chef (Chris Heeson) travelling with us, and offering the most beautiful cycling experience possible whilst we tick off classic after classic, including 3 ascents on Mont Ventoux in a day (optional).
- How many bikes do you own and what is your main go to bike?
I’m a one bike man, which I know is unusual but it works for me. Cannondale Evo, D12, 35,000 km+ on the clock and never misses a beat!
- When you travel, how do you transport your bikes?
I use a Bike Box Alan – UK – Bomb proof, as long as customs don’t open it
- Do you do all your own maintenance or do you use a LBS? If so, which one?
Bike Express and my mate Ian (Chief) Mott is amazing
- What cycling specific tools do you have in your “bike shed”?
I’m an apartment dweller with just enough to great, clean and adjust in between services
- What is your favourite piece of cycling kit or accessory?
BABICI UCT kit, I love it!
- What do you love about cycling?
- What annoys most about cycling?
Impatient motorists and arrogant cyclists – Share the roads people and have some sense of self preservation
- Other than yourself, who is your favourite cyclist?
Pat Jonker – Very humble, still very talented, focused and determined, and too nice for his own good
- If you could have dinner with 3 people from the cycling world, who would they be and why?
Lance Armstrong-Why? Mario Cipollini-How? Roger De Vlaeminck – Who cares, let’s have another beer!?
- Where would that dinner be?
Tom Kitchen in Edinburgh
- What are your craziest/fondest personal cycling memories?
First big Euro cycling tour with friends, torrential rain, no brakes, freezing cold, laughing our heads off afterwards with the owner of the Cafe du Paris in Bourg d’Oisans who gave us jumpers and beers whilst we sat and told them about our day whilst dripping all over their leather loungers.
- Without naming names, is there a special memory from the tours you have hosted?
70 year old, 6 months worth of coaching and hard work together to achieve 2 ascents of Mont Ventoux in a day, still makes me emotional, great work GG!
- What is your favourite post ride coffee/tea spot, and what would you normally buy as a treat?
Biga on Hutt St for coffee, but the bacon and egg roll at Duthie St cafe, hmmmm.
- What is your favourite local training route?
Osmond, Freeway, Hills 100km, Freeway, Osmond
- What is the biggest cycling lie you have told a partner?
What this old thing, new??
- Is there anything else you feel like talking about?
I’m pretty lucky and get to ride in lot’s of amazing places around the world including Europe, Asia and even Interstate and I always try to take the time to appreciate the unique riding (and riders) in each location, but I always appreciate coming home the most and riding with my friends and clients on our local roads. Never take this for granted and never think this is not a very special corner of the (cycling) world.