Wednesday, October 27, 2021
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Arthur Doyle – Scottish Hill Climb Champion 2013

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The day of the Scottish Hill Climb Championship wasn’t one for post race interviews – everyone just wanted to jump in their car and get home to the warm and dry. But VeloVeritas thought we best hear what the new champion had to say – we caught up with Dooley’s Arthur Doyle the week after his win.

Arthur Doyle
Arthur heads for the finish at the Hill Climb Championship. Photo©Martin Williamson

Congratulations, Arthur – how does your training change for the hill climb?

“I didn’t train specifically for the hill climb like I had done in previous years.

“I was really aiming at the Scottish Pursuit the week later.

“I had been doing lots of short efforts in the last couple of months for pursuit, but it’s at higher cadence with much less force than hill climbing.

“I know for me that rest in the seven days before seems to make a bigger difference for hill climb efforts than other types of race.

“The temptation is to test the target power output in the days before to reassure yourself that it’s there.

“But I find all that does is to increase the perceived exertion on the day and reduce the duration you can hold the power.

“When you are well rested then of course you have to know that the first few minutes need to be almost ridiculously easy.

“You’re knocking out higher power than you feel, until it catches up with you.”

You were a bit poorly on race day – not a good race to ride if you’re not 100%?

“I almost cancelled.

“I was achey and coughing badly but when you’ve psyched up for a race it is so awful to miss it, it makes you take the wrong decisions.

“I should have stayed in bed!”

Arthur Doyle.
Scottish Champion, but as a doctor, Arthur knows he really shouldn’t have raced. Photo©Martin Williamson

How did you feel next day?

“Oh God, awful – the cold got much worse.

“I guess it might have got worse anyway, but it lasted and worsened through the week; 10 days later and I’m not better.

“I was really upset to miss the track champs the week after.”

What did you think of the course.

“It’s a great hill. I haven’t ridden it before.

“I looked at the profile and knew that although the steepest bit was the first hairpin at about half-way, the make or break bit was relatively less steep final third.

“The first hairpin is really steep.

“I’m quite massive so I didn’t want to come to a standstill grinding at a low cadence. I planned to not open up until the run up to that bend.

“I got as quick as I could in the 10 metres before so I could nip up the hairpin. Then I sat and spun and paced it like a pursuit keeping as steady as I could with as quick a cadence as I could.”

You stuck with gears and two chain rings…

“It’s a changing gradient.

“I need a quick cadence so I ran to Spokes the day before to get a 27 cassette when I saw the wet weather forecast.

“Pacing is more important than weight.”

Arthur Doyle.
We always expect to see Arthur on the podium in his events. Photo©Martin Williamson

Did you get your tyre pressures right?

“I ran at 90psi, my mass squashed that quite firmly against the road!

“Low gearing and smooth pedalling stopped me from slipping.”

Second in the Trossachs – were you happy with that?

“Yes and no.

“It’s my favourite event.

“Silas is really a cut above just now, I was delighted to be on the podium.

“In the race against myself, I was a wee bit slower than I have been previously, and that’s not a nice result.”

Remind us of your results, this year – we don’t seem to have spoken to you as much.

“Top of the list is the UCI World Masters Pursuit title (40-44 category). I was really pleased to win that – even though it’s old guys.

“In the real world I seem to have returned to the lower rungs of the podium this year. Ben, Silas, Iain and Allan have all eclipsed me. It’s a short event list this year too. Less training, less racing – you can’t hide from that.

  • 1st Scottish Hill climb
  • 3rd Tour of Meldon’s (Scottish TT Champs)
  • 3rd Jason MacIntyre Memorial 10TT
  • 2nd Scottish 10TT
  • 4th in the Scottish 50TT
  • 2nd in the Tour of the Campsies
  • 2nd in the Trossachs”

What about your Scottish titles since you started cycling?

  • “10 mile TT: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
  • 25 mile TT: 2009, 2010
  • Pursuit: 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010
  • Hill Climb: 2009, 2010, 2013
  • Time Trial: 2008, 2009, 2011

“Crumbs, never counted them up before!”

Are you still as ‘hungry’ and what’s still ‘to do?’

“Ah yes, the hunger. That was certainly lacking through the winter last year.

“Plenty to do!

“I made a lot of training mistakes this year, the biggest mistake being not enough training! I also wasn’t motivated to stick to the whole plan which takes a huge amount of motivation – Everything has to be right.

“It’s the training process which is the thing I like most. Good race results are a bonus, and I probably needed good results to give positive reinforcement to training.

“Enjoying the process and not the outcome is what’s still to do.”

Arthur Doyle
Arthur heads to second place in the Trossachs Time Trial. Photo©Martin Williamson

Where are you living and working now – do you still do as many commuting miles?

“I’ve been in Fife for five years now, working in Kirkcaldy.

“Commuting is still the bulk of my training and it’s still a delight every day but I don’t do the massive miles I had to when I was commuting from Glasgow.

“I do miss the epic rides to and from work.”

2014? – is the Commonwealth Games time trial in your mind?

“No. I’m not good enough.

“I think I’ll cling to the fantasy that if I had lots of time to train and recover then maybe, just maybe…”

Time trialling in Scotland – still healthy, in your opinion?

“Time trialling is getting more and more competitive although most people are getting into time trialling as adults.

“That comes down to an individual’s internal motivation for the whole process of training and competing which is a different mechanism in adults compared to kids.

“It is also a very solitary pursuit. That’s partly why I don’t think we are going to see a big junior intake to time trialling.

“Having said that, some of the junior racing clubs are amazing and the cyclo-cross and duathlon events are really impressive. But they won’t feed into time trialling events directly.

Do you think the perceived risks get in the way?

“Yes, I don’t know many parents who are keen to encourage their kids into road cycling – let alone time trialling.

“It’s hard not to let the risks affect you… we’ve seen some awful tragedies – Ali Speed’s death most recently – which are just so needless.

“It’s hard, impossible, to see this in the perspective of risk and benefit.

“But cycling is such a part of life and our identity and binds such a wonderful cycling fraternity.

“I saw that at Ali’s funeral.”

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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