The first ‘25’ Champs I rode was the 1973 edition; I was meant to ride in 1972 but was DNS – it was lashing rain and I hadn’t actually figured out how I was going to get to Musselburgh.
My amigo, Billy Wright told me that Dave Hannah wasn’t too chuffed; I was meant to be Dave’s minute man and he’d been looking forward to leaving me in his jet wash, again.
The ’73 Champs were up at Forres, my folks gave me a lift to Perth on the Saturday where I got the train to Inverness then I pedalled to Forres.
There had been mentions that we waifs like me could bed down in the Forres club rooms to save the cost of digs – however, when I got there no such deal was in place and I think I ended up in the youth hostel but can’t really recall.
En route I was ‘crossed’ by eventual champion Drew Brunton and his band out for a pre-race ride, I remember thinking; ‘those boys aren’t hanging about.’
I did a 1:02 in the Champs; Drew recorded a 58, if I remember rightly big Craig MacMartin won the junior prize – which I’d had ambitions of.
Charles Star CC legend, Dickie Scott gave me a run down to Dundee in his Transit van after the race.
My favourite Dickie story is the time he was riding the Dundee Centre 12 hour and felt like a nap come early afternoon; he dismounted, bedded down in the long grass and fell into a deep sleep in the warm sunshine.
The grass was long enough to conceal Dickie and his bike resulting in a frantic search – to his club mates and race officials it was as if Dickie had vanished from the face of the earth.
Dickie dropped me off at the Tay Bridge and I rode home to Dysart – stuff like that was normal, back then.
But enough of my ‘25’ ramblings, this piece is about the man who recently added his name to those of Bilsland, Obree and Macintyre on the roll of honour – Mr. Peter Murdoch (Neon Velo).
The 35 year-old from East Kilbride’s ‘25’ silver in 2014 surprised us a little but his win this year didn’t; he looked every inch the champion to us as he blasted out to the final turn.
Congratulations, Peter – job done.
“Aye – I was third two years ago and second last year so it’s good to win, finally.
“I hadn’t really prepped specifically for it because I was committed to a road programme with the team.
“The last two days, however I got myself into the zone for the race and did a lot of visualisation, going over the whole course in my mind.
“I was pretty difficult to live with!”
When we spoke to you right after the ‘25’ champs you said that the An Post Rás had been a big help with your preparation.
“Definitely, it gave me a lot of confidence – the ‘25’ was exactly two weeks after it and once you’ve recovered you know exactly what state of fitness you’re in.
“I rode races at a high level when I was younger so I know the condition that you can achieve; riding in the breaks at a race like the Rás sets you up perfectly.
“I knew I was strong going in to the ’25.’”
Did you ride many ‘tests’ prior to the ’25.’
“Before this week I last rode a ‘10’ back in March, after the Gifford road race – I beat Silas Goldsworthy to win that.
“Then I rode a ‘10’ on Wednesday night before the race – Ben Peacock beat me to win that one.”
We spoke to you last year after your silver medal and you said you didn’t have a coach and used the ‘spin’ bike a lot for training…
“My training has changed a lot; our DS at Neon Velo, James McCallum works with the guys at ‘Trainsharp’ and whilst he’s not my coach as such, he gives me a lot of advice.
“I was always self-coached but I’ve learned a lot this last year about what I’m doing – resting then training harder when I need to.
“I’ve gone out and bought a power meter as a result of James’s advice and I now appreciate the importance of training on power and knowing why you’re doing what you are on the turbo.
“Up until I made those changes I was probably training below the level I should have been.
“I didn’t do any specific time trial training before the ‘25’ but I was doing power training at threshold – listening to good coaching advice and using a power meter has made a massive difference.”
A roadman on a dual carriageway course?
“To be honest I prefer hillier type course on country roads but the course was quite difficult with the wind and changes of direction.
“The guys who were on marshalling duties did a great job but maybe we could have done with a few more?
“And for the later starters, with all that traffic about, it’s maybe a wee bit dangerous?”
What was your pre-race game plan?
“I knew I was going well so it was just a case of keeping focussed; I rode on heart rate threshold and knew I had to suffer all the way – if I felt my concentration was slipping I made myself push harder on the pedals.
“To beat guys like Iain Grant you have to press hard!”
From roadside it seemed like a tough morning.
“It was predominantly a west wind and I took real advantage of it on the tailwind sections – the way I look at it is that there’s no point in killing yourself into a headwind to gain less than a mile per hour when you can really go for it on the tail wind sections and gain three or four miles per hour.
“With the tailwind I was never out of 54 x 11 and recording 40/41 mph – into the wind I was on the 13 and trying to keep on top of it.”
“I owe a lot to the guys at Paisley Velo; when I was having a hard time with my last employers my friends in the club were there to support me.
“I’ve raced the road at a high level before so when the KTM team approached me at the end of last year I joined them – but it fell apart.
“Then I heard that Dan Stevens was putting the Neon Velo team together so I sent them a CV, they got back to me and Steven Lawley and I joined them – having James McCallum there as DS and Graeme Herd as mechanic is terrific.
“But in general, I’m a bike rider, not a politician and I steer clear of that aspect.”
What’s still on the PM ‘to do’ list?
“I’m getting older but I still want to do it – I still feel really competitive and want to win more time trial titles.
“I love riding big races – the Rás was great, getting away with the team is so motivating and I’m looking forward to riding some Premier Calendar races now.
“It’s great to get results – not just for me but for the lads in the team too.”
Jim Gladwell’s 46.65 K Scottish hour record set in 1996?
“It’s funny you should say that – I was watching on TV when Bradley Wiggins set the hour record and remembering the times when I used to room with him when we were juniors on the GB squad.
“He had his big Hour success and at a much lower level I had success in the ’25’ the same day.
“The Hour is something I’d like to have a look at, yes; maybe in a year or two – and of course now there’s the advantage of a covered velodrome in Glasgow…
“And before we finish, can I say a big ‘thank you’ to all of my sponsors – in particular, Neon Velo, Trek and OSMO Nutrition?”
You just did, Peter – congratulations again on a great ride.