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Ghosts of Glasgow

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A spooky preview of the UEC Road Race European Championship

Kristoff wins Stage 21 Champs TDF JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images

The UEC Road Race European Continental Championship has been only open to the professional riders since 2016 and has probably gained the most attention as the result of the sartorial travesty of Alexander Kristoff’s all white champion’s kit. Luckily, the 2016 winner, Peter Sagan, had the higher priority and much more fashionable rainbow jersey to save him from the same fate.

This year the continental championships put on by the Union Europeene de Cyclisme comes to place that is soon to be no longer associated with Europe and Unions - the United Kingdom and more specifically, Glasgow, Scotland.

THE COURSE

The race will run on a 14.6 kilometer loop through the city, with the course being nearly identical to the course in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and, in my mind, being reminiscent of the 2015 World Championship course in Richmond. Geraint Thomas won the gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and, of course, Peter Sagan won the first of his three World Championships in 2015.

Map and profile:

The course is a scenic one, taking in many of the sights of Glasgow, and starting and finishing on the Glasgow Green. There are no long climbs, but plenty of short steep ones and twisty, winding roads where riders can get away.

8 kilometers from the finish, the “cobbled” hill of Great George Street:

3.5 kilometers from the finish, the short and steep Montrose Street:

The finishing straight on the Green:

To add to the selectivity of the race, the weather forecast (surprise, surprise for Scotland) is calling for rain, with locally heavy amounts possible.

GHOSTBUSTING GLASGOW’S GHOULS

As mentioned above, the course will have the peloton passing many of the most popular tourist spots of Glasgow. Many of the sights of Glasgow have some spooky tales associated with them, and if you were visiting the city you would have your choice of a plethora of ghost tours to choose from. While some of us may derisively laugh at such an activity, I could think of worst ways to spend a day than visiting many of the “haunted” locations, many of which just happen to be pubs, and enjoying a good ghost story while imbibing in some spirits. So in that vein, come with me if you dare on my, let’s call it SSSR ghost tour (Shawn’s Spooky Scottish Rides) where we’ll get to see some of those haunted places that the peloton will pass during this race, and while I’m at it, we’ll try to debunk some of these spooky tales.

THE VAMPIRE OF GLASGOW GREEN

Our first stop on our spooky sojourn is the Glasgow Green, the park that is the start and finishing location of this race. The park has been said to be haunted by a vampire of sorts. Since the 19th century a sharp tooth gag, called Jenny w’ the ‘airn teeth has roamed the park and been said to eat children with her metal teeth. In 1954, hundreds of schoolchildren swarmed the graveyards of Scotland trying to hunt the vampire, claiming that 2 of their schoolmates had been eaten.

Early reports out of Glasgow before the race have confirmed that school children have been descending upon the Glasgow Green again to hunt this monster. Unfortunately, this seems to be a case of mistaken identity, as many of the Glaswegians have been commenting on a certain Irish UAE rider who has been scouting the course and saying “Look, there’s Danny w’ those dairn teeth.”

Le Tour de France 2017 - Stage Eighteen Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

DALMARNOCK BRIDGE

Stephen Sweeney / Dalmarnock Bridge / CC BY-SA 2.0

Just south and west of the finish line is the Dalmarnock Bridge, which crosses the River Clyde. As the local paper has reported, this bridge is one of the most haunted places in Glasgow:

Scared witnesses have reported seeing a young man, as real as can be, staring over the side of the bridge before jumping and vanishing. No one has been able to identify him but the same details fit; man in his 30s, wearing black clothes. Would you go over and speak to him? Perhaps a ghost stake out in Dalmarnock or Rutherglen is in order - any takers?

Of course, there’s a perfectly rational explanation for this. Luke Rowe arrived a little early in Glasgow for a bachelor party of one of his Scottish mates. Unfortunately, he forgot his current kit, and has been wandering around town in last year’s all black Sky kit. And we all know what Luke likes to get up to at bachelor parties. As to the vanishing, well, that’s a little more difficult to explain. But we all do know from this year’s classics season that Luke is not a stranger to vanishing acts.

THE NECROPOLIS

By Helen Simonsson [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Glasgow has not just one, but two Necropolises (Necropoli?), and these “cities of the dead” are home to many supernatural tales. The Southern Necropolis is home to the White Lady, who is the ghost of a woman killed by a tram car and whose headstone, in the shape of a veiled lady, turns to watch visitors. The ghosts of the Necropolis in the city center are said to be so numerous, that they’ve been pushed out into the adjacent Cathedral House Hotel, where they can be seen by guests enjoying some drinks.

The rumors of these hauntings may have been greatly exaggerated as the locals have seen Swedish rider Kim Magnusson nursing a pre-race ale at the bar, looking forlorn and muttering into his drink, “The horror, the horror...” The patrons reportedly hear the ramblings of a madman as he talks about needing to educate everyone first about Dracula packs and a cannon belonging to Dale and he keeps repeating, “It’s like a city of the dead,” and “I can’t believe they got Tejay, he’s a zombie now.”

THE FRITTENING

To find the most frightening and inexplicable of Scotland’s spooks, we have to head out from the city and to the northernmost reaches of Shetland, where the locals claim they are terrorized by a beast too terrifying to describe.

According to local folklorist Jessie Saxby, the people of Shetland claimed that they were once terrorised by a boneless, blob-like beast they called a “frittening”, because it could scare anyone who saw it to death. Some people said it looked like a bag of wet sand or wool, others said it was like an armless, legless torso – a “ghastly, wet, vile” thing with one lidless eye that would press against their windows. Argh.

Sadly, many of these reports coincide with Lampre superfan Blumpy’s holiday travel to Scotland. Poor Blumpy doesn’t understand why people can’t just call him “big-boned” like they used to.

The Frittening

I hope you enjoyed the tour and that you have a spooktacular time watching the race. Oh? You actually want to read about the riders who will be taking the start line and know who may win? Okay, I guess we can get into that too.

THE CREEPY CONTENDERS

Provided that he has healed up from the Tour crash, Peter “The Frightful Fastvakian” Sagan, is the overwhelming favorite. Sure, he doesn’t have the strongest team, but has that every stopped him before? Unlikely to be wearing the rainbows for a fourth year in a row, he’ll be interested in going all white next year.

Belgium will likely be working for Ghastly Greg Van Avermaet but will also have Jasper “The Chocolate Cannibal” Stuyven as a backup plan.

Belgium will also have Wout “The Myth of the Mysterious Merger of Verandas Willems” Van Aert going up against Netherland’s Mathieu “I’m Going to Ride Cyclocross Until 2020” Van Der Poel on the asphalt.

Germany will be riding for John “The Deutschland Demon” Degenkolb while Denmark’s best bets are either Mad Magnus Cort or Mad Mads Pedersen.

Italy’s best bets are either Sonny of Sam Colbrelli or Evil Elia Viviani, who proved his ability to win on a tough course at the Italian Nats.

Norway has the defending champion, Alexander “The Zombie White Elephant of Stavanger” Kristoff.

When available, you’ll be able to find a full startlist here. Which zombies of your vds teams do you think will rise from the dead in Glasgow?

Enjoy the race, which should be streaming live starting tomorrow here.