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Dons star gets on his old bike

By SPP Reporter

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Aberdeen FC's Roy Aitken aboard the penny farthing to publicise the first Bikeathon.
Aberdeen FC's Roy Aitken aboard the penny farthing to publicise the first Bikeathon.

THE build-up to a Scottish Cup Final – the showpiece of the football season – is traditionally a time for the teams to unwind, enjoying relaxed days in seaside hideaways before contesting the game’s glittering prize.

Coaching manuals are unlikely to recommend visiting a rain-soaked, wind-lashed Kingussie to clamber aboard a precarious Penny Farthing.

The organisers of the first Scottish Bikeathon in aid of Leukaemia Research can be thankful that Roy Aitken, co-assistant manager of Aberdeen FC, appears to read different coaching manuals.

The Pittodrie faithful, fearing injury to the midfield stalwart, can sleep soundly, however, as Roy’s ascent to the saddle of the antique bicycle – provided by the Highland Folk Museum at Kingussie – via a usefully-placed fence, was accomplished without incident, while his descent was swift, if not cavalier.

The Aberdeen player-coach said he was delighted to be on hand to help launch the fund-raising, mass participation, very first Bikeathon.

"It seems like a great idea to raise money for a very worthwhile cause," said Roy. "Hopefully the weather will be slightly better than today or the participants might need flippers on their handlebars!

"Sponsored cycling is something a bit different from the usual jogging or walking and the event should be a fun day for anyone who can get their hands on a bike."

Bikeathons have proved popular in England where a number of branches of the charity each raise around £50,000 through annual sponsored cycles.

This Badenoch event will be the first Scottish Bikeathon and, in conjunction with police road safety officers, the district branch has drafted a 25-mile route leading from Kingussie to Laggan Bridge via Glentrium and Newtonmore.

However, branch chairwoman Mrs Shirley Nield has stressed the event is not a race and that those taking part can cycle as much or as little of the route as they want.

Although Roy will be on holiday and unable to take part in the first Bikeathon, he was happy to visit Kingussie ahead of the final against Rangers a week on Saturday.

He said: "We are planning to take the squad away for a few days and let the lads recharge their batteries. It’s already been a long season but with the international fixture this week it was decided to put the cup final back and allow the players on international duty some time to recover.

"There’s never any difficulty in motivating the players for a cup final, so the main thing is giving them a chance to relax while keeping the momentum going."

• Sadly for Roy, Rangers won the cup final 2–1, to claim a domestic treble. Rangers’ scorers were Mark Hateley, scoring in his second consecutive Scottish Cup Final, and Neil Murray. Lee Richardson netted Aberdeen’s goal.

However, the Scottish Bikeathon has gone from strength to strength from the first event in the summer of 1993.

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