A man who’s been moving steadily up the standings this year, against the watch and on the track, is Sandy Wallace Cycles’ Silas Goldsworthy – we thought we should have a word.
How did you get into cycling Silas?
“I used to do cross country and hill running when I was a kid.
“I bought a Bianchi road bike to join one of my running friends who did triathlon for the odd training ride. I took a few years off sport while in early years at university, before pulling the bike back out of the garage.”
Remind us how you did in the Scottish ’10’ TT Champs this year.
“I was seventh with 21.10. I was aiming for a lot higher but it wasn’t my day. I don’t like to make excuses, so after the race I congratulated the winners and said nothing.
“Basically I got treated for possible rabies and given an emergence course of vaccines and treatment one week before the event – just one of the perks of my job!
“Sometimes you’re ill on the big days and it doesn’t work out. Once I got through my course of medication I was back on track.”
The ’25’ was better . . .
“The Scottish 25 was an improvement on the ’10;’ I took silver with 52.32, six seconds off a deserving champion in Iain Grant (Dooleys Cycles).
“I had a good ride, not going as well as the British 25 but still pleased – we also won the team title with Alan Thomson (bronze) and Steve Nutley.”
And the ’50’?
“Again more ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’ – however, these don’t win bike races.
“It wasn’t my day puncturing while on a good ride; I still managed to back up the guys to win the team title for Sandy Wallace Cycles, again with Alan (Silver) and Steve.”
But the British ’25’ went well?
“This was an eye opener for me, I was seventh in 50.34. I was far more pleased with the place than the time.
“What was upsetting was that here was a nasty accident with one of the women competitors when the traffic was busier. My take is I would rather the event was on a quieter road – I’m not fussed on times so much as beating who is there on the day.
“I rode into what was meant to be headwind on the way out and got there with an average of 28mph.
“You can imagine my delight when I turned and kept it above 30mph the whole way home, with the last 20mins at an average of 34mph!
“I got back to the car and realised how fast I had gone when some handy riders were reporting their times were two minutes behind mine!
“I was to be within three minutes of Alex Dowsett which surprised me.”
How does testing down south compare to Scottish time trials?
“It’s warmer, flatter, smoother surfaces, busier traffic – chalk and cheese.”
And Sandy Wallace Cycles won the TTT, again – how many times is that ? And how have you come to dominate it?
“Three years in a row. Peter Ettles and I have done all three of them together.
“Each year we meet the day before for a practice where we crack each other, then agree to calm it down for the following day!
“In seriousness, we have worked very well together as a team, making sure it is not a contest within the team and getting the maximum out of every rider.”
You used to climb well and ride the road – why testing now, isn’t it a dead end ?
“It’s been so long I forgot I used to be able to climb, I think I was fourth in the hill climb champs one year. I found I didn’t have the time to stay fit while at university (with my veterinary studies) to be competitive at the end of the road races, so I focussed on shorter TTs.
“I may go back to riding the road, Peter and Alan talked me into doing a stage race up north this year – we did well in the prologue with me winning, Alan and Peter completing the podium.
“I decided that Alan was the better road rider we so rode for him, where he duly showed his class, pinging off the front on the last day to make the decisive move and win the overall.
“My take on it is that testing is a valuable tool for any aspiring roadman, one that is often overlooked.”
Tell us about the British pursuit champs, please.
“If my eyes weren’t opened after the British 25, then they were wide open now!
“This was only my second pursuit, after the Scottish pursuit champs two weeks before where I took silver; with the benefit of hindsight I should have ridden a bigger gear. At the British I was the lowest ranked rider, so off in the very first heat.
“Peter had briefed me on how to ride, making sure I paced it well.
“I finished up with 4 minutes 37 seconds.
“It turns out this is a quick time which I only realised when rider after rider tried and failed to get close to my time. My ambition had been to get top eight to get a second ride for experience. I realised with only four riders left I was still in second place and a chance of a medal ride off was still possible.
“The nerves were jangling as the two riders in the second last heat were just up on me at the halfway point; however they both faded in the last half to leave me in fourth place at the end.
“It meant I was in a ride off for a bronze medal – that was something I had hoped for, but didn’t think was possible this year!
“I was up against Doug Dewey who was fourth last year and fresh from a summer racing in Belgium and had won the silver medal at the British TT champs behind Dowsett.
“I went out hard, too hard – on a 4.32 pace at the two kilometre, mark before fading to 4.41 and losing the match. I tried – and learned from this experience.
“The disappointment of missing out on a British medal was tempered by the fact that I had managed to go so well in only my second track event.
“I was on my brand new Cervelo T3, kindly supplied with Sandy Wallace’s help, as he is now a Cervelo dealer.”
Is the track something you want to get more into – especially now we have the Glasgow Velodrome?
“Very much so, I have been trying to ride Meadowbank far more often for years. I was entered for 2011 Scottish pursuit; in fact I was on the start line when it started to rain.
“Hats off to the guys who have raced for years on an outdoor track – I found it too frustrating!”
Doesn’t riding the mega gears in the time tests compromise your pursuiting ?
“I do try to spin the gear in my TTs (95-100rpm), however this is way too low for pursuiting; that is true.
“No place for my 55 tooth chainring on the track – sometimes the legs crave that grip of a big gear!”
Do you have a coach, and what’s the philosophy ?
“Peter Ettles has been coaching me for the last year. His assistance has been invaluable with this season has been my best by a huge margin.
“It is even more remarkable what he has managed to get out of me considering the hours I work; a two month knee injury at the end of the winter training block and then the Rabies setback!
“As for his raining philosophy, Peter is very good at being able to go extremely well for the races he targets. Maybe it’s because he’s spent a lifetime chopping down large heavy trees?
“But I’m not brave enough to give his secrets away!”
You mentioned Rabies earlier Silas – what do you do for a living – and how do you fit cycling into that ?
“I’m a vet in Lanarkshire at Clyde Vet Group.
“I’ve found it very challenging to fit cycling around the long hours of being a vet – often having to work on call on top of a 60+ hour week.
“It’s an interesting job, although sometimes it would be great to get out on the bike a bit more.”
Which riders do you admire ?
“Jason MacIntyre; the man was a true inspiration when it came to how to ride a bike – showing how to combine being a world class athlete with family and other commitments.
“He also was a true champion never letting his achievements go to his head. He was very humble – preferring to talk about others achievements rather than his own.
“I fondly remember the first time I went under the hour for a ‘25;’ it was the Scottish champs back in 2006, I think. He had asked what my aim was before and I said sub hour; I delivered with a long 57.
“Jason had won that day, despite puncturing and riding for a good few miles on a flat until he could get a wheel change. I seem to recall he still did something like a 51!
“He was far more delighted for me for ‘smashing the hour’ as he put it, rather than his own awesome achievements. He was a true inspiration.”
What’s your take on ‘LanceGate’ ?
“What can you say without being sued?!
“Disappointing, but I think we have all come to the realisation over the last couple of years of what was going on. I just hope it allows the sport to open up its dirty secrets and move on.
“My biggest concerns would be any possible involvement from the ‘powers that be’. If so then a complete overhaul is required.”
Final word, Silas ?
“I’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge ‘thank you’ to Sandy and Angela at Sandy Wallace Cycles for their continuing support and encouragement, as well as Peter for all his assistance.”