Dave Hannah – Scottish ’25’ Champion Eight Times!
If you had to name one man who single handedly changed the face of Scottish time trialling?
The man who made sure a ‘59’ wasn’t going to win you the ‘25’ champs anymore...
Dave Hannah is the man; VeloVeritas caught up with him recently at his home in Shieldhill for a long overdue chat.
How many wins, all told, Dave?
"Oh Jeez! Well, I raced from when I was 13/14 years-old until I was 43 years-old and for maybe 10 seasons I averaged 40 wins each year, so somewhere around 500 in total, I guess?"
And championship wins?
"I never won the ‘10’ champs, they came late in my career but I was within two seconds of Graeme Obree down at Hawick in the champs if I remember rightly.
"I won the ‘25’ eight times; the ‘50’ five times [we make it seven, ed!]; the ‘100’ I can’t remember if I won it or not [our records show he won it twice in 1978 and 1988, ed.] but I was first under four hours – 3:57:48 in 1984.
"I won the Scottish middle distance [25, 50,100] BAR eight times and the full distance [50, 100, 12 hour] BAR twice – the highest I reached in the British BAR was fourth.
"Oh yeah, and I won the Trossachs Time Trial twice!"
"I broke the ‘10’ record three times; the ‘25’ four times, the ‘30’ twice; the ’50’ three times and the ‘100’ – as I said, the first ride in Scotland under four hours.
"In 1979 I held the ’10,’ the ’25,’ the ‘30’ and the ‘50’ records all at the same time."
I remember you first as a Central Scotland Wheelers man, I think?
"I was in the CSW but actually started with Tommy Banks’ dad’s Grangemouth track club which was based at Grangemouth Stadium as a 13/14 year old.
"I was with the Denny Road Club for a year or two after that before I joined the Central Scotland Wheelers where big Jock Ritchie – who was Scottish BAR – took me under his wing; guys like Alan Rae and Peter Robertson were in the club in that era.
"But it kind of fell away and I went to the Velo Sportiv for a year or two before I joined the Regent CC – which was the best thing I ever did.
"Then I was in the Albany Wheelers before I ended my career back in the Denny – where I beat Graeme Obree to win the ‘25’ title."
Your first win?
"An open schoolboy ‘10’ at Wallyford in 1968 and then another schoolboy ‘10’ which was part of the Dunbar Cycling Weekend."
I remember you were a big Derek Cottington fan.
[Derek Cottington was a very successful English short distance time trial rider winning the ‘25’ and ‘50’ titles in 1971, he also broke the ‘25’ record that year but it was disallowed due to the way the field was seeded. He wore his hair long – in those pre-‘aero’ days - and commuted 40 miles each way to work. ed.]
"Yeah, I had the white Holdsworth Chronometro with red panels like his and wore my hair long as he did.
"I idolised him; Alf Engers was another man I admired but my first hero was actually Billy Bilsland."
When you joined the Velo Sportiv we expected you to go up a level but from the outside it didn’t seem that successful a move?
"No, I didn’t really work out, it’s hard to say why but I actually got on a lot better with Jockie [J.B. Allan, who was ‘Mr. Velo Sportiv’, ed.] after I left the club.
"Although I did get my first medal in the ’25’ champs with the Velo – silver to Drew Brunton in 1972.
"It all began to happen for me in 1977 when I went down to the Harrogate Cycling Festival to test myself against the time trial guys we’d read about in the Cycling Weekly each week.
"I did a 1:50 for a ‘50’ but more importantly, something ‘clicked’ in my head, I realised that these guys just tried that bit harder and that’s why they went so fast."
When you joined the Regent you stepped up a level, didn’t you?
"I won my first ‘25’ title with them in 1978 – so I’d been around a long time before I started to be really successful.
"It was a great club with the late Jimmy McGinty at the head and then there were his sons who all raced - and guys like Hughie Donald, great camaraderie and definitely no egos.
"And of course, the late Alan Hewitt who would have won so much more had I not been around but he was never jealous and we always got on famously.
"My times with the Regent were the best of my life – with guys like Jimmy, Hughie, Alan, Rab Robertson – and the sponsor was a great guy too, Jacky Connor.
"I was a printer, working 08:00 ‘til 5:00, five days each week and my training had to fit in around that – early mornings, lunch times, evenings.
"I was an advocate of interval training and I think I’m right in saying that I was one of the first to use a ‘turbo’ trainer.
"You clamped this device on the seat stays then you varied the resistance with big rubber bands – but I used a toe strap!
"I’d do my outdoor intervals on the old Grangemouth track, my dad with the stopwatch.
"I remember making a decision quite early to look at my training; back then it was all miles, miles, miles – but why?
"And I never really stopped; I’d kept doing intervals on the turbo and at Grangemouth track right through the winter. I’d have a week off after the Trossachs then start my training for the next season, that was how I was able to knock out fast ‘10’ times at Christmas.
"Malcolm Firth, who was a top coach at the time got in touch with me when he was up at Dunfermline College and did testing with me, Vo2 max and such like, that was interesting."
You were one of the first to chase the times down south.
"I wanted to measure myself against the very best English guys and to give myself an equal opportunity in the BBAR; albeit I only ever went as far south as Yorkshire.
"I’d be doing 1:55/56 for a ‘50’ up here but down there I was doing 1:46/48 – and there was a great atmosphere around those races down there."
You had a wee sojourn to the road.
"I did but I didn’t do that well, I didn’t really enjoy it, when I look back perhaps I should have ridden the pursuit on the track but I just liked the ‘clubbie’ atmosphere of time trialling and didn’t have road ambitions."
You had some success in the TTT though?
"I was in Scotland teams which twice won bronze in the British Championships and rode the TTT at the 1986 Commonwealth Games – that was something I enjoyed."
Rides you’re most proud of?
"Winning my first Scottish ‘25’ title was something I’d dreamed of since I was a laddie.
"And winning the ‘25’ on Loch Lomond side – which was supposed to be a ‘roadman’s course’ – was special; I also won the prize for fastest first mile and fastest to the turn that day too.
"But I guess my greatest performance was the first under four hours ride for the ‘100’ – Sandy Gilchrist and I had been sparring over that one but I was first, I beat Paul Tiggerdine by eight minutes that morning, on the Glasgow course."
Biggest scalps you took?
"Ian Cammish to win the Andy Wilson Memorial ‘50’ and I beat Daryl Webster in a Harrogate ‘25’ – obviously they beat me on other occasions but I did get the better of them in those events."
Was the Scottish Hour Record ever on your radar?
"I never really thought about it, it never crossed my mind and you have to remember that Meadowbank Track was a bit of a closed shop back then.
"Looking back it’s something I was perhaps suited to; that and the pursuit."
And your last win?
"I broke a record in that one! The Scottish vets ‘10’ with 20:39 in 1993, I have the certificate but I never seem to have been credited with it.
"I think that was my last win, it was time to finish, I’d had enough – the joy of winning was no longer guaranteed and motivation was slipping.
"My son had begun to play football and I wanted to get involved in that, my dad had been ill and it was also time I got on with a career.
"I was lucky, my dad was so supportive of me and my wife too, putting up with no holidays whilst I was down riding at Harrogate!"
Did you achieve everything you set out to?
"I think so – more than I thought I would.
"I look now and see such great opportunities – like the individual time trial in the Commonwealth Games and a nice indoor track in Glasgow but I have no complaints.
"Joining the Regent was the best thing I ever did; those times with Jimmy, his laddies, Hughie and the two Alans, Bruce and Hewitt were great.
"And I loved those trips to Harrogate; the place which changed my mindset as a rider – no regrets!"