According to their advancing years one could be forgiven for thinking they should have one foot in the grave. But instead they have two feet on the pedals. Those in question, the Coffin Dodgers, are a cycling group with a difference as their ages range from 60-plus to eighty years old.
And this intrepid band of 13 Hawick men – made up of Allan Thomson, John Anderson, Alan Richardson, Jim Wilson, Davie Aitken, Doug Ramage, Ian Storrie, Reg Nicolson, Ian Cook, Jock Oldham, Alistair Hogg, Jim Bell and Peter Potts – certainly know how to get on their bikes.
From runs deep into the heart of the Borders and holiday trips that hit the roads of Majorca, the Coffin Dodgers certainly clock up the miles.
The Hawick News met up with two members, Allan Thomson and John Anderson, and discovered the wheels of this unique group are certainly turning apace.
First to click into gear was 80-year-old Allan who told us: “I retired from work when I was 60 and joined a walking group with various other retired men from Hawick and Selkirk. This was fine until foot and mouth [disease] arrived in 2001, which meant walking over the hills was banned, so myself and three other Hawick men bought bikes. Eventually numbers grew and that’s how it started. There has been comings and goings over the years, but a Thursday has been a regular day for runs, which normally end with a pint in a pub.
“Our name, the Coffin Dodgers, actually came about in a pub. We were in the Cross Keys in Denholm at the end of a run and the landlord, Dave Bennett, said: ‘Here come the Coffin Dodgers again’. And it’s a name we decided to adopt.”
Giving his thoughts on the Coffin Dodgers, 72-year-old John said: “I love being a Coffin Dodger and I get a lot of enjoyment out of it. We’re all getting on a bit in age and have two 80-year-olds in Allan and Ian Storrie. But age means nothing, we just like to cycle and that’s what we do.
“Whenever we go for runs we enjoy it. We put in the miles, but we don’t take ourselves seriously. It’s more of a fun thing. Sure, we keep ourselves fit, but it’s more about camaraderie than fitness. We all get on together and there is nothing better than having a pint, a bit of banter and sorting out the world after a run is finished.”
John added: “We have actually got our own club song. One of us, Reg Nicholson, is a singer songwriter and he wrote a song about the Coffin Dodgers. It’s really good and it can be heard on YouTube. So we have our own anthem.”
John and Allan were among six of the group who have recently returned from a cycling jaunt in Majorca.
Taking up this story, Allan said: “For my 80th birthday a trip to Majorca was planned. The island is a mecca for cyclists, it’s just fantastic.
“It was agreed that a special club jersey would be made for the occasion and I got the job of designing it.
“Sponsors were needed to help with the costs of the jerseys and thanks to John Beattie & Sons Funeral Directors, Hawick Cycles, Billy Ford Blinds, Russell Graham Auto Service and Repairs and the Waverley Bar, this was obtained.
“After the rest of the Coffin Dodgers saw the design they wanted a jersey as well.
“And when we were in Majorca the jerseys drew plenty of attention and comments.”
John added with a smile:“We got a chance to show off our jerseys in Majorca. But back home in Hawick we haven’t been able to do this as it’s either been wet or cold and we’ve had to keep our jackets on. But hopefully Hawick folk will see who the Coffin Dodgers are soon.”
The group, who leave from the Common Haugh on Thursdays at 10am, are a special band of Hawick men who are casting the age barrier aside by simply being on their bikes.