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Ian Cammish – “I’d have ridden 600 miles a week, if that’s what it took”

"At the end of the day, I achieved everything I set out to do. Maybe if I’d been more laid back then wouldn’t have achieved what I did."


To my shame, I couldn’t tell you who the reigning BBAR is, but if this was the 80’s I‘d have little problem in informing you.

Cycling Weekly printed regular updates of the table standings, with the final ‘50’ on Boro’ always a big deal – that race could make or break your bid for the prestigious top twelve.

I could probably also have given you a potted biography of most of the riders in that top 12.

But there was another reason that it was easy to remember who the BBAR was.

The same man, Ian Cammish was on the throne for all but one year of the decade.

Glenn Longland took the title in 1986, but apart from that, Cammish reigned supreme. He was also invulnerable at 100 miles, taking the national title nine times and competition record four times – leaving it an astonishing ten minutes faster than when he started.

And the man is still racing, 30 years after he began his remarkable decade of domination – just this year clocking a 1:01 for a 30.

Recently Mr. Ian Cammish very kindly gave VeloVeritas of his time.

Ian Cammish
Ian dominated the British Time Trialling scene for a decade.

This is a pure testing piece; so best start with ‘personals’ please, Ian.’

“10 in 1992: 19-13.

“25 in 1991: 48-36

“50 in 1994: 1-39-49

“100 in 1983: 3-31-53

“12hr in 2000: 292.2mls”

Your first time trial?

“The Cambridge open 10 on the F2 in 1972; I did a short 28.

“Since then I’ve not had one year off – I’m envious of guys of my era who come back now and get the benefit of all the new equipment.”

And what was your most recent race?

“A 30, this year in 1:01; Hutchinson won with a 56.”

How did you keep the motivation going for nine BBAR wins?

“My original aim was six titles, to beat Phil Griffiths’ record of five wins in the BBAR.

“In ’86 I lacked motivation and Glen Longland was BBAR – but that’s not to take anything away from his win.

“In ’87 I had fresh motivation with the Manchester Wheelers – Jack Fletcher the man behind Trumann’s Steel had such enthusiasm for the sport.”

Ian Cammish
The Manchester Wheelers were one of the country’s strongest clubs.

The 25 was never your best distance, but you made the podium a couple of times.

“I wasn’t really at my best for the 25; the 50 was really my first target of the year – but I won silver behind Martin Pyne in 1981 and bronze behind Daryl Webster, one year.”

You won the 50 four times and had the record – the first sub 1:40 ride.

“All of my records were ridden on spoked wheels and low profile bikes – there were no disc wheels or tri-bars.

“I’m not actually going much slower, 25 years later; I’ve ridden a 1:40 for a 50 in the last three or four years – they reckon tri-bars are worth one mile per hour.”

The 100 was your speciality.

“I won the championship nine times and broke the record four times. I remember one year I won the championship by 15 minutes, from the late Pete Longbottom, I think.

“The first time I broke the record, I took two seconds off Phil Griffiths’ time with 3:41:41.

“Then I took that down to 3:41:32, then 3:38:39 – and then, in 1983 down to 3:31:53. That was on the A12 in Essex; Renny Stirling was helping me and at every time check I was just going faster and faster – 3:38, 3:37.

“But there are faster courses, now – back then the top course was Boroughbridge; but there were only 60-odd miles on dual carriageway, the rest was in the lanes.

“There’s a Saturday afternoon 100 now on the A52 Derby/Uttoxeter dual carriageway – it’s just so fast but very dangerous with the traffic.

“It was 13 years before Andy Wilkinson took it down to 3:27:39 – he was a class act.

“But if you break a record, you’re just a care taker, if you win the championship you’re there on the statute book for ever – that’s nice.”

Ian Cammish
Ian didn’t use bottle cages on his bike in time trials.

What did you eat and drink on your record ride?

“I had no bottle cage on the bike; when I think about it, I had to slow down at lay-bys to take a drink from Renny, so it must have cost a bit of time.

“I drank Isostar, Accolade, Coke – and had a Mars bar at 60-65 miles.”

But it took a while for you win the 12?

“Yeah, 32 years!

“I rode my first one in 1976, eating malt loaf and all of that – now you can do it on gels and drinks – but didn’t win it until 2008!

“It was always the mental side which let me down, I’d blast though 100 miles and then think; “there’s still eight hours to go!” and negative thoughts would creep in.

“I took so many battering in 12 hour races – but when I did that 292, that was a good 12, I was actually racing around the finishing circuit.”

The GS Strada / Manulife squad show off their trophys after a successful season.
The GS Strada / Manulife squad show off their trophys after a successful season.

Your association with Phil Griffiths?

“I learned a lot from Phil when I was with his team, the GS Strada – we were good mates, I practically lived with him.

“But you move on and lose touch – I’m starting a new website and when I get that up and running, I’ll take the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to him, properly.”