VeloVeritas didn’t make it up to the Scottish 10 Mile Time Trial Championship at Alness.
‘No problem,’ thinks me, ‘I’ll get an interview with the winner; if John Archibald hasn’t recovered from his crash and doesn’t ride it’ll be David Griffiths or maybe Chris Smart?’
Not for the first time, I got it wrong.
Is that the Hawick lad whom was second on the hill climb, last year?
Fast forward a few days and Liam is on the end of the line, en route Lesmahagow, ‘to pick up a quad.’
Intriguing, so let’s start with what he does for a living:
“I work in forestry, feeling trees, it’s pretty physical work – good training…”
How did you get into the bike?
“I used to race motocross and as part of my preparation for that I’d ride my mountain bike on the trails in the Borders.
“I was losing a lot of time through injury with motocross so I stopped it and did more mountain biking.
“I was getting a little bored with the MTB so I bought a road bike and then heard that the Hawick CC had mid-week time trials and I thought; ‘I’d like to try that.’
“That was about four years ago and the rest is history!”
Do you have a coach – tell us about your training.
“No coach, the folks in the club have kept me right on how to train using the power meter and I do a lot of interval training.
“I do IT on the road but also at least one session per week on the Turbo on the TT bike.”
Had you ridden the Alness course before; did you go up the day before to ‘try it out?’
“No, I drove up on the morning, I was staying at my girlfriend’s in Lanark; I left at 05:30 to drive up.
“I’m use to early starts with my job and I like to drive so it was no bother.”
How was the morning?
“On the way up it was nice – until I got to the Kessock Bridge where there was sea mist and drizzle.
“On the course it was a head wind out, which is actually a longer leg than the return – I think maybe the wind dropped for the later starters?”
How did you pace the ride?
“I decided to push myself to the limit on the way out because that was the long leg and it was into the wind but leave just enough to get back from the turn with the tail wind – and it worked!”
What was your expectation going into the race?
“I was fourth in the CTT ‘10’ – but there were only 12 seconds between the top four so I thought if I pushed to the limit at Alness I could be in the medals.”
Did you realise how close it was, your winning margin was just three seconds.
“No, I didn’t know how tight it was but when I crossed the line I knew that I’d done the best I could possibly could do I felt good about that – which is unusual.”
Was that winning 20:19 a personal best?
“No, I set my personal in the CTT event with a 19:42.”
Tell us about the hardware.
“I ride a Focus Izalco Chrono like the AG2R boys used to ride; I have a 55 chainring with an 11 up cassette, rear Zipp tubular disc with a Revolver tubeless clincher on the front.”
What about the ‘25’ Champs?
“It’s worth a shot, if you’re not in it then you can’t win it; I have a 51:58 as a personal best but I consider myself more of a ten miler.”
Tell us about the Strathpuffer.
“Yeah, the 24 hour mountain bike at Strathpeffer; we entered a team in a moment of madness and came away with the team win; and I set the fastest individual lap – in the dark!
“We rode one lap each, then changed, the circuit was about 50 minutes so I treated each of my laps as riding a ’25.’
“It was good winter training but it took me a couple of weeks to get over that one.”
The hill climb must be a big goal for you?
“Unfortunately not, my sister is getting married, in Australia at that time.
“It’s good news for David Griffiths though, I think I had him a bit worried on Stow.”
What are the goals for the rest of the season then?
“I’ve already achieved one by winning a medal in the ‘10’ – but I’d like to beat my personal best for the ’10.’
“I’d also like to try a ‘50’ for the first time – and I’d love to try and win a road race!”
Several hours after our chat, this message arrived:
‘Any chance you could publish a wee “thank you” to my girlfriend Laura for all her help and support? And for not killing me when I woke her up several times the night before the race. My winning means she may have actually forgiven me!’
Our pleasure Liam, and thanks for your time!