Thursday, January 20, 2022
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James McCallum – Racing Is My Job Now!

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Ex-British Criterium Champion and Commonwealth Games track medalist James McCallum has recently returned from a few months racing and resting in the antipodes, and is looking forward to getting stuck into the new season with his re-vamped Endura Racing team.

We met James for a good old chinwag: this week over lunch, he turned up at the restaurant looking hungry, and with a huge Endura team bag over his shoulder…

James McCallum
When’s Lunch?

You’ve been out at the Endura factory this morning?

“Yes, I came straight from there. I was doing some PR stuff — head-shots and so on – catching up with Jim McFarlane (Endura Managing Director and team owner), and hearing all the latest about the team’s plans: things have grown a lot in the three months I’ve been away!

“I’m blown away by the amount of work that has gone into the team’s plans, and the passion that everyone in the team, and at the factory, has.”

What’s in the bag?

“Ah well, I can’t tell you much — it’s under wraps until the team presentation.

“What I can say is that the kit that we’ve been given this year is different from last year, in design, colours, everything. It’s world class quality, stunning.

“It’s made personally for us, we’ve all been measured up: chest, waist, arm length, etc., and as a result the kit fits like a glove — even the gloves!”

So, a very different team from last year?

“Absolutely, everything has gone up another rung or ten!

“We struggled with a few things last season, which I think you captured when you spoke to Jim before: things like budget, and planning, we know where we went wrong.  Even so, a small team can’t function properly when it’s got three riders out with broken collarbones at the same time…

“However, I think that the first event in the Tour Series last year was a bit of a wake-up call to the team, and to the sponsors, of just where we were relative to the others, and what work we needed to put in to lift ourselves up to the level we wanted to be at.

“I remember last year telling some of the younger lads in the team about targets, reminding of them of the team’s mission statement — sometimes heads went down when they realised that their own personal targets needed to put aside for the benefit of the team’s goals.

“But this year it’s a different game altogether, we’re all committed to working as a unit, as professionals, to doing it properly. After all, we’re all getting paid to do this.

“If you don’t do something right, there’s always a consequence, and the end result of not approaching the racing correctly will be to not reach the success we can.

“But, if we do everything we think we can, the result will be a happy Jim, and a happy Jim will keep investing in the sport.”

James McCallum
James is determined to do everything as well as possible this year.

The additions to the team?

“We have a fantastic roster now, with some great riders added — for example, ex-World Champion Rob Hayles will be rider/manager.

“Other riders like Ian Wilkinson and Welsh Champion Rob Partridge bring a lot of experience and firepower to the lineup too, so with Scottish Champion Ross Creber, and Jack Bauer winning the New Zealand Champs, we have three National Champions in the squad!

“My old chum Garry Beckett has joined the team as DS – I last worked with him at Plowman Craven. He’s very experienced, and has lots of contacts.  He’ll be great for the team, and will keep us on our toes – he doesn’t like laziness or unprofessional behaviour.”

You did: well at the Track Nationals last year.

“Yes, Evan Oliphant and I went to the Nationals needing to place top eight in a final, as a part of the Scottish Commonwealth Games Team selection criteria.

“When we got to Manchester though, we were both ill, and weren’t really looking to achieve anything.

“In the end though, we both got top eight in the Scratch Race, which was one objective ticked off the list.”

James McCallum
James with Dean Downing in the Madison, Barcelona.

Then you got some international racing in: too?

“Yeah, after the Nationals I raced in Barcelona, then Holland, then Evan and I went over to Columbia with Craig MacLean and Kate Cullen.

“The racing was at the track in Medellin, and boy it was hard — the likes of Escobar and Godfrey were all there, going well.  Awang too — he was impressive, won a lot and made some pretty serious money.”

Did you get a chance to look around the place?

“Yes, a little. We went to see Escobar’s place, which was amazing.

“Generally, moving about the country was a weird experience – we were escorted around Bogota by armed guards!  When we drove down the slip road to get onto the motorway, these guys would go ahead of us and stop the traffic to let us onto the road!”

And then you were off to Oz?

“Yes, we went to Perth first of all, Evan and I.

“We rode the Perth International, which had some good young Aussies competing, and then we did the Tour of Perth, more hard racing — Graeme Brown, the Meier brothers… I did my usual working like stink for Evan, who managed to make top ten, so it was worth it.

“Around now though, I was thinking ‘I’ve been racing since March, it’s November now, what am I doing?!’ — I’d kinda had enough.

“I went to Melbourne to see some pals, and had a great time, just chilling out and riding – there are tons of decent riders there, and I rode a lot, coffee runs, just to tick over.”

James McCallum
Best feeling in the world! British Criterium Champion.

But you were seen at the ‘Tuesday Worlds’ in New Zealand?

“Ah yes, the famous ‘Tuesday Worlds’ in Christchurch!  I went over to NZ for Christmas and New Year to see my pal Jason Allen (we were teammates at Plowman Craven), and went out on these rides — awesome… the likes of Hayden Roulston out on these rides ripping it up, in the middle of his training for the NZ Road Nats.

“My fiancee came over for Christmas and New Year, so that was lovely to see her, and we had a really chilled time, I was still riding my bike but trying to ride easy; I somehow managed to get in 100 hours on the bike in five weeks!”

You left your post with Scottish Cycling?

“Yes I did. I just want to give Endura Racing a really good shot, and with the level of training I need to do, I don’t have time to do another job.

“I have a one year contract with Endura Racing (I think we’re all the same), so it’s up to us to prove ourselves and make of it what we can. Everything in the team, the UCI Licence and so on, is in place now, nice and early, so it’s ‘forward, with the team!'”

What’s the early season shaping up like?

“It’s looking good, we have some fantastic races in France to get our teeth into, and a training camp