The British ‘25’ is still THE race to win – Sheil, Bonner, Engers, Lloyd, Doyle, Webster, Boardman …
Any rider would be honoured to add their name to that list.
This year we’d all been expecting Matt Bottrill to add to his already impressive palmarès.
But it was one of VeloVeritas‘ amigo, Dan Fleeman’s charges at Dig Deep Coaching who upset the form book: Ryan Perry (Langdale Lightweights RT) who’s 48:04 was 20 seconds too quick for Britain’s fastest postie.
In time honoured VeloVeritas fashion, we reached for the tom-tom drums and in no time Captain Perry’s words were back at VV world HQ – here’s what he had to say …
Terrific ride, Ryan – the basic stuff first, please: age, from where, how did you get into the bike?
“I’m 28 from Burnley originally but traveled extensively with the Army for the past 12 years.
“I was obsessed with mountain bikes from an early age and was mentored closely by a very keen uncle.
“When I was 16 I went to military college and stopped riding.
“I then took up cross country skiing in the Army and bought a road bike to train on in the summer months.
“I was soon better on a bike than I was on skis so I switched fire!”
You’re a captain in the army – how difficult is it to fit in your training and are they supportive?
“The Army is brilliantly supportive. They do everything within their power to support sporting talent.
“Cycling is the fastest growing sport in the military and a few key personalities are really driving it.
“Admittedly, I am heavily supported with time away from work to train.
“Army jobs are so busy that it would be impossible to perform at your best without that support.”
How long have you been with Dig Deep and what’s the biggest difference to your training since you started with them?
“I’ve been with Dig Deep for two years.
“I started out with James Spragg (another VV amigo, ed.) then had a break, started messing up my training and then went back!
“I’m now with Stephen Gallagher. He’s ‘trying to take the diesel out’ of me to help with the constant change of pace in road racing. I’ve worked hard with cadence drills and anaerobic efforts all winter.
“The biggest difference I’ve seen is my tolerance to hard efforts.”
Tell us a little about your training?
“Steve really focuses on weakness.
“Naturally I’m good aerobically but not great at constant sprinting and pace chance.
“We work a lot on that to keep conditioned for racing.
“My volume has reduced a lot during the season as I got a virus in March and it has taken a while to come around from it.
“It’s important to feed off the experience those guys have.”
What were your best performances before the ’25’ title race?
“To be honest I’m a real time trial novice, but it’s what seems to work for me, really.
“I’d say my best result was Bronze at the BC National Elite TT this year the Dowsett won.”
What was your expectation going in to the race?
“I had a really unfortunate week running into the race with illness and lots of travel.
“I was sure that Botty was going to destroy me.
“I just focused on eating as well as I could so I could give myself half a chance.”
What was your strategy for the day?
“The day before I did a few efforts and really struggled to hold the power.
“The plan was to go out easier so I didn’t pay for overcooking it.
“At the half way point I upped it a bit then really emptied the tanks in the closing miles.”
What was the course like?
“I must admit I was a little surprised with how many roundabouts there were!
“There were a couple roundabouts with grannies going to church and it was a bit of a nightmare.
“I think my bike handling is OK and managed to keep speed through most of them, though.”
How did you gauge the ride?
“I had a plan with the power but it’s so important to listen to your body too.
“These TTs are quite short so you’re always going hard.
“I generally gauge them with, ‘if I’m hurting I’m going hard enough!'”
Bottrill takes a bit of beating, does he not?
“Of course he does!
“He’s so experienced and a bit of a ninja.
“The beauty of TT-ing though is you just do your best and see where you are.
“Luckily my ride went to plan, my power was good and I have a fast set-up – you have to have all ticks to beat somebody like him.”
Tell us about your bike – what gears do you ride?
“I’m on a Boardman TTE.
“I’ve fairly heavily modified the integrated front end to get low enough.
“It’s a rapid bike though, I think people really under estimate it.
“The amount of research and development it’s had and CFD [computational fluid dynamics, ed.] it’s had is exceptional.
“I had a 56 ring and 11-23 cassette on.
“In hindsight I reckon I’d have gone with a bigger ring.”
What other ambitions do you have on the bike?
“I’ve really enjoyed the TT-ing this year so will definitely look to continue seeing where that goes.
“I love the road racing too, because I’m new to it, with another good winter I think I’ll make a decent jump in performance.
“I want to win some of the bigger UK races in the next season or two.
“As for after that we’ll see!
“I want to go as far as I can with the years I have left.
“I love real British things too, I love the thought of eccentric things like the Lands End to John O’Groats Tandem record – I’ll do stuff like like when I’m a bit older for sure!”
Where are the hols about and are you taking the bike?
“I’m in southern Italy (Scalea) with my fiancé – and but yes the bike is here!
“I’m getting out in the mornings before it’s too hot to ride!”
The man deserves his day in the sun, for sure, with thanks and congratulations again to Ryan – and to Dan Fleeman for putting us in touch.