VeloVeritas recently interviewed 60’s and 70’s Scottish star John McMillan – a contemporary and team mate of McMillan was Brian Temple.
John reminded us that Brian is the man who won Scotland’s first cycling medal back in 1970 when the Commonwealth Games came to Edinburgh for the first time.
With the days ticking down to the Glasgow Games we thought we should follow up on John’s suggestion and speak to the man who won that historic medal
Australia and England were the top cycling nations in the competition with riders like Englishman Ian Hallam (who won the pursuit) and Australian John Nicholson (who won the sprint) and were expected to dominate the 10 mile; but a break comprising Vernon Stauble (Trinidad), Jocelyn Lovell (Canada) and Temple sneaked away from the Big Guns and stayed away.
The youthful Lovell took the win – his first big international result en route to becoming a cycling legend – and Temple gave Stauble the slip to take home silver.
Brian recently took time to speak to VeloVeritas about his career.
Remind us how that day went in Edinburgh when you took the silver in the 10 mile.
“The final competitors were decided by having two heats; the other medallists were both in the first heat and I was in the second.
“Unknown to me the final was also to be contested the same day.
“So instead of having home advantage I found that I was at a disadvantage because the time they had to rest was almost 90 minutes compared to my 30-odd minutes.”
Did the Scottish media make much fuss of you?
“Not really, apart for a few articles along with some pictures.
“The unfortunate situation I was in was that a Scottish boxer had just won a gold medal and that became the main talking point.”
How did you get into cycling?
“My parents had just been allocated a new house in the Drylaw estate in Edinburgh and I just was hanging around at nights being “pest” to a lot of the locals.
“On one Friday night I spotted one of the lads coming downstairs from house with his bike on his shoulder, so I asked him where he was going. He was heading to the cycling club, so I asked if I could tag along, so I ran to my house and borrowed my dad’s bike – which was nothing fancy just a run around with Sturmey Archer gears.
“On arriving at the club, I was totally taken aback on seeing all these fantastic bikes. It turns out the captain of the club had a Sun Wasp for sale for £10; my parents bought it for me – which was great because it allowed me go away weekends to the youth hostels with the club.
“I actually met Margaret – who was to become my wife – on one of those trips.”
Did you ride the track much before they built Meadowbank?
“Yes and no; by that I mean that not having a proper bike for the track I only rode on the shallow tarmac tracks at Grangemouth or Dundee to supplement my road riding.
What was the Games selection process like?
“I was somewhat blessed by being able to time trial and road race along with the ability to ride the track.
“I was short listed within the team although no event was allocated, but I was keen to make the team for the road race. As far as I can recall the final selection for the road was to be made after we had competed in the Girvan three day stage race in Ayrshire.
“Apparently I was the race leader on the road during the second stage only to lose it all with a broken crank, landing in a ditch. By the time our management got me a spare bike the race was way beyond me.
“The attention for me then turned to trying for the track team, – which I obviously achieved.”
Did you work full time and train round that?
“Yes I did, because at that time in was in full employment, five days a week plus any overtime I could get.
“I had to look after my wife Margaret and our two boys Bryan and Craig along with making payments for the track bike I had to buy for the Games; a Flying Scot made by David Rattray of Glasgow.
You rode track/TT/road, which was your favourite?
“My preference when I first started as a junior was for time trials; this changed when I became a senior although it was hard for me with being tall as I had to learn how to get up the hills.”
Which TT performance are you most proud of?
“Two spring to mind, the first was winning the Scottish 25 Mile Championship on three occasions and beating Big Mac (John McMillan) by one second on the Lumpy course at Stepps during one of these winning rides.
“Then there was winning the 50 Mile Championship on a course at the West Ferry when I broke the Scottish record which was held by Ronnie Gardner – who was also a Velo Sportiv rider – I should add that was achieved with a broken toe clip after only four miles.”
Which road result gives you most satisfaction?
“The most satisfying result was when I returned to compete as a veteran and won the Velo Sportiv APR (Australian Pursuit Race – a handicapped road race, ed.) on a circuit round the village of Ormiston near the town of Tranent where the Velo Sportiv club actually started as the Tranent Thistle before becoming the Velo Sportiv.”
What was the Scottish road scene like in the late 60’s/early 70’s?
“For me there were highs and lows because the west coast riders were very much better prepared than we were in the east.
“I had my share of wins but only because I had to be selective with the courses that suited me – no big hills.
“Some were sprint wins, but I was always looking to get into small groups of riders so as I could get away on my own and use my time trial ability.”
John McMillan turned pro, was that ever a thought in your mind?
“No, because of family commitments.”
When and why quit?
“It was around 1972. I was riding a two up team time trial early season with Ronnie Boa and we were hit by an on-coming car.
“The collision was almost head on and with me being tallest of the two I came off worst in the crash. I spent four or five days in hospital in Fife before being allowed home.
“During that spell in hospital it gave me time to consider my future; I could have been killed and my family would obviously have suffered.
“So after riding for almost 17 years I stopped, But as I mentioned earlier I did comeback as a Vet after a few years away.”
Do you still ride the bike?
“Yes I do, weather permitting – it can be as much as seven days a week, 30 minutes each day along with some spin classes at night.”
As an ex-Velo Sportiv man we insist on a Jocky Allan anecdote!
“During the 50 miles Championship, which I spoke about above, I only saw Jocky once, he came alongside of me in his white van with the window down shouting; ‘You’re on the record!’ so I told him I had broken my toe clip.
“He shouted back at me; ‘F**k your toe clip, you’re on the record!'”
Any regrets about your cycling career?
“I am afraid this would take a very long time to answer because they fall into two categories – club and country…”