It was back in May 2015 when Jim Cusick told us about the professional jockey who was riding time trials. Since then Wilson Renwick has swapped equine saddles for the narrower models you find on time trial bikes, winning the Scottish ‘Olympic’ Time Trial Championship back in the spring of this year and has just added the classic Tour of the Trossachs to his palmarès.
We caught up with him the day after his epic ride on what was the toughest day most can remember for the event.
Congratulations on a great ride, Wilson – in what were very testing conditions.
“Yes, it went all right, it’s my kind of course but I don’t usually go well in the cold and I’ve struggled in the Trossachs the last few times.
“I tried to warm up on the Turbo but gave up after five minutes and headed straight to the start; I went all right up the Dukes.
“But on the descent I got stuck behind a bus, I couldn’t get past and had to freewheel so I was cold by the time I got to the bottom.
“I was thinking that my ride was going to end up a disaster but I warmed up again by the time I got to the boat house on Loch Venachar side and my legs felt alive again.”
And still on that 1×11 transmission, I see.
“I was on 11 to 30, I could fit a 32 but the Dukes isn’t that steep so the 30 is fine; the chain ring is thick/thin so there’s no problem with chain retention; I’ve used this set up in the Meldons and Gordon Arms and have never dropped a chain.”
What was the tyre choice for such a horrible day?
“I was on my usual Vittoria Corsa Speed tubeless clinchers, the saving over tubulars is four or five watts and you can run them a little softer if the surfaces are bad like in the Trossachs.”
Any ‘moments’ to report?
“Getting stuck behind that bus wasn’t ideal and I had to brake for cars along the Invertrossachs Road but you’re never going to get round a course like that without some sort of obstruction.”
How did you judge your pace – that last stretch into the wind means you need to have some gas left in the tank, does it not?
“Yes, it was a headwind back to the finish but having ridden the course before I knew there are lots of bits where you can’t pedal and have to freewheel.
“That means you’re not on the power constantly and gives you ‘mini breaks’ where you can recover.
“And then there are the big descents off the Dukes and Braes – but if you ‘blew’ on the finish straight you could lose a lot of time.
“There wasn’t a lot of wind to start with but I could feel the cross wind over the top of the Braes and it was a headwind finish.
“I was a bit worried that the early starters had the best of the day – that last drag was very hard.”
Did you have a ‘try out’ over the course beforehand?
“I drove the course in the morning; it’s actually the first time in four attempts I’ve got all the way round without incident – I punctured once, it was cancelled, then I was ill.”
Did you do any special preparation for the race?
“I’ve not done a lot of racing recently, I had a fair break in the middle of the season but I did the Knockhill Hilly Time Trial as a ‘try out’ the other week – it was very windy but it was good to get an event like that under my belt.”
You were fastest to top of the Dukes, is a Hill Climb Champs bid on the cards?
“I was pleased with that, I rode it hard but there’ll be no hill climb champs for me as I’m training hard for other stuff – you need to be fresh for a serious hill climb attempt.”
And are you still living ‘up north’?
“Yes, still there, the weather has been good – and of course there’s always the Turbo…”
When we last spoke, after you won the Olympic Trial Championships you were talking about doing some races in Belgium?
“I rode the Tour of Estonia, Scandic Grand Prix and Ronde de L’Oise.
“I have a ride with the Java-Partizan continental team, we ride some nice races; our best rider is Charalampos Kastrantas who was Greek Road Race Champion in 2017.
“He also won the Tour of Serbia last year and this year he won the GP Ville d’Algere and was top 10 in the Tour de L’Oise.
“He’s a strong lad with a really good sprint and my job is to help him get a result.”
Do you have track ambitions with those RT 23 boys?
“I’m playing with the idea of riding the Scottish Champs, I’m going all right but BC has set 4:25 as the minimum qualifying standard for the British Pursuit Championships.
“I only have two opportunities to achieve that so I’ll have to get on the track and see where I’m at.”
What’s on the agenda for 2019?
“I’m not sure, like just about everyone else I’m trying to secure a ride – I hope to be with Java again.
“On the home front I’m back down to second cat. which means I can race more – if you’re an elite there are only about five races you can ride in Scotland, being second cat. takes that up to about 20 events.
“I don’t really understand the system; in the early season races I rode in Spain they have big fields and simply award prizes to each category within the race – it’s a better way to do things.”
Our chat with Wilson wraps up our Trossachs coverage for another year – but Janette, can you sort out the weather for next year please?