Friday, October 22, 2021
HomeInterviewsCallum Finlayson - Five Years from Stroke to Scottish Champion

Callum Finlayson – Five Years from Stroke to Scottish Champion


It’s not everyday we get emails from Time Trial Royalty, so when BBAR and 100 mile time trial legend Ian Cammish tells us;

“Hi, just been involved in a brief exchange of emails with a guy from Moray Firth CC – Callum Finlayson.

“He’s just won the Scottish 100 champs with the 2nd fastest time EVER in Scotland.

“Got a pretty good story to tell too … suffered a Stroke a few years ago!”

we jump to it.

Callum is brother of former top Scottish 80’s road man, Davie Finlayson – here’s his story.

Callum Finlayson
Callum Finlayson. Photo©Martin Williamson

What’s your connection with Mr. Cammish?

“Ian and I are best mates, ha ha..

“No, Ian sold me some handlebars that have made a big difference to me and this week he has been giving me advice on finding someone to help with equipment and go faster.”

Tell us a little about yourself – age, job, background on the bike?

“I’m a driving instructor aged 41 married to Steph with a wee boy Brodie, spent sixteen years in the army, taught at Sandhurst.

“Raced my bike until I was sixteen; I’m Davie Finlayson’s wee brother who rode for Scotland in the eighties.

“My only Scottish medal before now was a bronze schoolboy sprint medal in 1986 – three of us entered.

“I live in Forres – home of one or two Scottish champions!”

Is it correct you had a stroke?

“Yes, five years ago I had a brain haemorrhage, blood on the brain which caused the stroke. I was diagnosed with neurosarcoidosis – a rare disease, it attacked my brain and lungs.

“I was put on medication steroids, epilepsy tablets and an immune suppressants.

“I quickly ballooned to 21-and-a-half stone and the doctors told me it would be three years before I would be able to do things ‘normally’ and that he didn’t think I would make it back on the bike let alone race.

“I once broke a rib trying to get my cycling shoe on!  And Lycra wasn’t bonnie!

“A friend started coming out on the bike to accompany me and I was pushing Brodie in the pram to start the weight loss.”

Tell us about the course and conditions on Sunday.

“The Invergordon course isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

“The surface is poor and the climb up around Tain can hurt if your not on top of it but the conditions on Sunday were perfect.”

Callum Finlayson
Callum in action at the Scottish ’10’ Champs in May this year. Photo©Martin Williamson

What was your race plan and aspiration for the race?

“To be very honest I thought I could maybe just maybe sneak a medal if I did a 3.55 and that was my target.

“I did a 1.52.02 in the 50 over the same course two weeks before when I broke my gear cable ten miles in and had to ride the rest on 54 x 11.

“I learned a lot about myself that day, so I was feeling OK.

“Kenny Riddle, who I ask advice from and share ideas said to me; “70 miles is half-way, keep it canny until then, then ‘go for it!’ He is a great man for advice.”

Tell us about your bike/tyres/gears.

“Ebay! All second hand, old style Cervélo P2, Dura Ace 7800, front wheel is Enve 6.7 clincher with Continental Grand Prix 23mm, rear wheel is Zipp 900 on Vittoria Corsa CX 23 mm, new ‘bars per Ian Cammish – PDQ ‘bars; they are great, really sorted my position out.

“I’m hoping now to get someone to give me some help with some equipment.”

What did you eat/drink during the ride?

“I took 10 gels for the race, one every 10 miles, I had three bottles with SIS electrolyte however I didn’t manage the last one as I was to busy trying to go for it.”

Were you getting time checks on anyone?

“I had my cousin John Innes and Eric Davidson giving me shouts on Jim Cusick and Gavin Shirley as along with everyone else I thought that Ian Grant would be all over it.

“I could tell by the riders I was catching and watching the fast boys at the roundabouts how it was unfolding.”

What was your final time and best ‘100’ prior to Sunday?

“I did 3.50.39 – I don’t really have a previous 100 time; I had a bit of a problem with the traffic lights and was disqualified last year but unofficially it was a 4.11.

Tell us about your training.

“My training is top secret. ha ha!

“I try and help anyone I can, I was lucky in that when I first came back Pete Ettles taught me how to train, race – aye, and hurt on a bike.

“I train two weeks hard one week easy. I mix miles, power and speed.

“Core training-wise I did “Insanity” classes over the winter to lose more weight.

“I train alone or with ‘Jack and Victor’ (Geordie Grant and Peter Robertson).”

Do you have a coach?

“No coach but very lucky to have had Pete. I can always ask him advice I will never forget what he has done for me.

“Kenny Riddle is the guy. The man you ask that silly question to but get a sensible answer.

“I would love someone to help me get to the next level – I’d love to see where I could go? If I’m told then it’s done – it’s my ‘army head.’

“I would be a good student for someone…”

Callum Finlayson
Callum has been delivering fast times in his clubs confined TT’s. Photo©MFCC

Are you a power meter man – what was your average on Sunday?

“I use a Stages – it was 280 watts for the course but didn’t stop my watch so might be a wee bit low!”

What’s next on the agenda?

“The vets road race then team time trial with the MFCC boys.

“Then we’ll see.”

What’s the North racing scene like at the moment?

“It’s ok, some good racing and some talent starting to appear with Wim Chamlet doing a great job with East Sutherland Wheelers and coaching kids in the North.

“Plenty races so it’s healthy at the minute.”

You must be well up in the Scottish BAR?

“I’m not sure – but I’ve certainly got a good 100 now!

“My 50 is ok, my 25 not so good but hey-ho I’m just pleased to be healthy and in and around these fast lads like Ian, Jim, Gavin and of course Tam Gordon – they were absolute gents to me on Sunday; everyone made my day I’m still on cloud nine!

“I did a 1.11 27 at Aberdeen in a 25 three years ago and thought maybe this isn’t for me?

“I’m glad I persevered!”

And final question – are the Riddles still drinking as much?

“I can’t say too much on Roddy, he’s in training for a snowball fight in the Arctic!

“Kenny – he is still a cheap date; half eleven he’s a snipers nightmare!”

With thanks and congratulations to Callum and thanks also to Ian Cammish – we’re framing that email he sent us.

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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