Wednesday, January 26, 2022
HomeInterviewsChris Smart - Tour of the Meldons 2015 Winner

Chris Smart – Tour of the Meldons 2015 Winner

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Chris Smart (Paisley Velo) explained to us that he’d no choice but to successfully defend his Scottish Olympic Time Trial Championship over the Meldons course in the Scottish Borders, recently.

If he hadn’t, he’d only have been the champion for half a year; with the Trossachs being the championship race in October 2014 and the Meldons coming in April of this year.

And in the time between us interviewing him and this piece appearing he’s gone and won another title – the TLI 10 mile championships on the A77 with a 21:19 to Ben Peacock’s 21:27.

Tour of the Meldons
Chris Smart. Photo©Martin Williamson

We started by asking the 34 year-old fireman from Saltcoats to remind us of his haul of Scottish medals thus far …

“This is my second Olympic Time Trial title; I’ve had a silver medal and two bronzes in the hill climb; team time trial gold and a bronze in the ‘25’ champs.”

The Meldons; perhaps not as technically challenging a race as the Trossachs?

“I don’t know about that but they’re certainly two very different races; in the Trossachs I kept the lid on it until I was off the Dukes Pass, the descent was wet and tricky so I took it steady and started my race after I was down.

“For the Meldons it was different, I went from the gun, right up that long dragging start climb – but I did get a fright at the finish.

“I wasn’t expecting that steep finish climb – I was seeing stars by the top!”

Tour of the Meldons
The Meldons hills are a popular destination for rides and picnics. Photo©Martin Williamson

Early/late season, it doesn’t seem to make much difference – you still won the championship?

“I usually plan to have my first peak for the ‘25’ champs but I’ve had to change my season plan because my brother gets married the day before the ’25’ so I won’t be riding.

“And I felt that I had to defend the Olympic TT else wise I’d only have been the champion for a half of a season!

“I like the Trossachs and the Meldons, they’re both good courses.”

How did you gauge your ride – ‘feel’ or on power output?

“I have a power meter for training but I don’t use it for racing, I just go flat out from the start!”

Tell us about your training.

“Purely turbo; I don’t have time for any other way with working shifts and having young kids.

“I was racing on four hours training each week – on the turbo at 10:00 pm – but have more time now that we have kids at nursery so it’s two hours on the turbo, four times per week.

“I love the turbo and use the power meter to track my progress – that said I’m not a ‘data geek’ by any means.

“I don’t have a coach as such, I’m self-coached but Alex Ross – who was in the Scottish team 2000-2002 and is better known as ‘Charlie’ – keeps an eye on what I’m doing and reins me in if he thinks I’m doing too much.”

Are you ‘an equipment man?’

“No, I just upgraded my 20 year-old Bianchi to a Planet-X because the Bianchi snapped.

“I’m a big gear man, 53 x 11 and 12 – I like my 12 sprocket!”

Tour of the Meldons
Chris in the 12 sprocket at the ’10’ Champs a couple of years ago. Photo©Martin Williamson

How about road racing?

“I don’t ride the road anymore; this is my 22nd season – I started when I was 12 years-old and grew up riding the road.

“I went to France to race when I was 20 and achieved an elite licence in the UK but I was always on the outskirts of the top placings, not winning.

“That’s what I like about time trials, you get rewarded for your efforts – which isn’t always the case on the road…”

Track?

“I got the bug when the Glasgow track opened and was riding the track league – but you can’t do it all and even though it’s the winter, you have to turn up fit because it’s so intense.”

Fourth in the ‘10’ champs last year and third in the ‘25’ – you must be looking to move up?

“I believed I could win the ‘10’ last year because I’d won the Jason MacIntyre Memorial just before it; but it didn’t pan out like that.

“As I said, I won’t be riding the ‘25’ – my next target is the TLi ‘10’ Champs which is promoted by my own club, Paisley Velo so I’d like to do well in that (as we noted earlier, Chris won the event with 21:19, ed.).

We were surprised when you were DNS at the ‘50’ last year?

“I gambled on that one that it’d be a quiet night on shift at the fire station – but it wasn’t and the last thing I could do was to race after such a hectic shift.”

The ‘100’?

“It’s something the guys in the club and I have discussed and if it was held closer to home I’d certainly be interested; but with it being way up there at Invergordon it’s a big commitment – it wouldn’t be fair on the wife and kids for me disappear up there for a whole weekend.”

You were a Royal Marine – does that help when the going gets tough ?

“Yeah, it does help; it teaches you to push to your maximum and then beyond – that’s why I’m sick after the finish of my races!”

And on that happy note we’ll wish Chris ‘bon chance’ for the upcoming Scottish ‘10’ Champs – see you there?

Tour of the Meldons
Lynsey Curran, Ladies’ Scottish Champion. Photo©Martin Williamson

Result - Tour of the