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John Archibald – Scottish 25 Mile Time Trial Champion 2016

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John Archibald
John Archibald.

They’re everywhere, those Archibalds.

We’ve no sooner finished congratulating Katie on bringing home gold from Rio than brother John pops up and grabs the Scottish “25” Mile Time Trial title.

Here’s what the most improved man in Scottish cycling had to say to VeloVeritas the day after his fine win where he relegated “50” and “100” champion, Jon Entwistle into silver medal spot by 25 seconds recording 50:03 to take gold.

How and when did you get into cycling?

“I was introduced to road bikes by my dad and cycling used to be a summertime hobby.

“Maybe a week of hire bikes in France, or an impromptu hammering up the Crow Road. However, I only started cycling consistently when I began commuting to work in 2012.

“It satisfied the ‘itch’ of wanting to keep fit and meant I could steer clear of gyms.”

Are you working or still in education?

“I’ve worked in our family business of bed and mattress shops for the last four years.

“All of our direct family have been involved at some point and Katie was even a fellow colleague for a brief stint. She wound up with this gig in Manchester and for some reason says she won’t be back.

“We’ll see …”

John Archibald
John fine-tuned his preparation by using other races. Photo©Joe Fee

This season you’ve made a huge leap in terms of performances – why?

“I was very fortunate with the teammates I landed last season – the learning curve they’ve put me on has been immense.

“The original brain-trust of David Lang, Jason Roberts, David Griffiths and Rob Friel all have unique qualities to offer.

“Therefore I’ve gradually snubbed out the rookie mistakes that I could still be making today.

“My training took a step up as well (and it has to when you’re in a paceline with Jason and Rob), but my equipment choice, bike position and tactical understanding have been the game-changers this season.

“Now that I’ve made some progress this year, Davie G is only feeding me advice in small doses.

“Having practically done everything for my TT setup except ride the bike, I’ve got a lot to thank him for.”

Tell us about your preparation for the ’25’.

“I normally do three quality sessions in a week.

“So after the road race season dialled down, two of those sessions became TT focused.

“I also raced two 25 TT’s and a 10 TT so that I was confident in my equipment and power target.

“Mistakes were made in all three of those races and none of them re-occurred at Irvine, so I’m really glad I did those ones.”

What were the course and conditions like for the championship?

“There was a noticeable cross-wind at parts, but I believe the conditions were fast.

“The main thing was that it was dry and safe.

“Having nothing to distract you from your effort is a massive bonus – especially due to the abundance of marshals directing the course – they’re a massive stress-reliever.”

John Archibald
John enjoys the friendship and support of his team, here at the early season Musselburgh TTT. Photo©Christine Ferguson

Tell us about bike/tyres/gears, please.

“My TT bike is an unbranded job, but it allows for an aggressive position which is what matters to me.

“I borrowed a disc and tri-spoke that has a 22mm Ultremo tyre on the back and 22mm Continental tyre on the front.

“My gear range is 53 x 11 to  39 x 25, although I’m considering a bigger front ring to break 50mins. “Spinning is Winning” has been my tagline thus far and the antithesis of “If you can’t find it, grind it” gives me nightmares. Thanks to Alastair McNicol for that one.”

Were you getting time checks? Who were the ‘danger men?’

“I’m quite new to the TT circuit, so gauging my performances against other was difficult to do in the build up.

“I was relying on word of mouth, but it was no secret that Jon Entwistle and Chris Smart were danger men.

“I doubt anybody was getting time checks, but I knew what power would get the best performance out of me and I think any time checks would have distracted me from that.”

How did you pace the ride?

“I made sure that my last 10 minutes were my hardest, without going out the start gates like a pansy.

“It’s too easy to slam out 20 Watts above threshold for the first 15 minutes and roll into the finish feeling sorry for yourself, so I was determined not to make that mistake.

“I hit the half-way point five Watts below my finishing average, so I think I got my best performance out on the day.

Do you have a coach/mentor – what’s the training ethos?

“I’ve come from a swimming background and the low impact nature of the sport makes it very similar to cycling – you can hammer your body into the ground for 20+ hours a week if you wanted to.

“There’s no doubt that making an attack at the end of a three hour road race requires some volume, so I’ve tried to find a happy medium between commuting to work for enjoyment and slotting in the Renfrew bunch on the way home for a burn up.

“I’ve had a lot of discussions with Rob Friel over training, but to me it boils down to making consistent and measurable progression.

“It might not be linear, but if what I’m doing isn’t achieving my targets, I need a re-think.”

John Archibald
John in action at the Manx GP. Photo©supplied

Do you have road and/or track ambitions?

“I’ve just completed my track accreditation, so it’s on the cards, but a total unknown at this point.

“I find the road racing scene exciting, so I’d like to test my mettle down South.

“I took a good kicking at the Manx GP earlier this season, so I’d like to prepare better for one of these races next year and take less of thrashing.”

John Archibald
Road racing appeals to John. Photo©Louise Archibald

What was your best performance before the ’25?’

“A bronze in the Scottish Road race was a turning point this year.

“As an outsider, I was allowed to drift into the break while people saved energy marking guys like Steven Lawley.

“Since that race, drifting off the front has been impossible, so I have a faint idea of Steven’s pain.”

You recently rode a 19 minute ’10’ – what do you think of Bialoblocki’s 16:35?

“People talk about float days and heavy traffic influence, but 450W in his aero position gets my kudos any day of the week.

“It’s hard to imagine the thrill of a 58kph average speed, but it’s not hard to imagine the world of pain he must have been in to achieve it.

“I’ll keep taking my baby steps and see if I can better my sub-20 ride.”

John Archibald
John in control at the Cromarty Stage Race. Photo©Paula Stronach

What’s 2017 about?

“Setting new goals, challenging what I did this year and seeing if I can better it.

“I went through my swimming days thinking I would keep getting better every year, but diminishing returns says otherwise.

“If I can race down South and consider myself active in the bunch, that would be a massive success.

“Anything better than this year is a bonus.

“The track is something I’m interested in and 4-5 minute efforts suit me, so I’d like to give pursuiting a go.”

John Archibald
John and teammates at the Scottish TTT. Photo©Mark McGhee

What would you like to be your ultimate destination on the bike?

“There’s no long-term goal in mind. I find that ruins my enjoyment of sport.

“If I’m pressured to put in a killer turbo session while there’s a Scottish hurricane outside, I’ll lose all motivation.

“So I’ll keep setting short term goals that ensure I’m improving, but not losing sight of sport being a hobby.”

Is Katie ever not cheeky to you?

“It’s all for show.

“When she comes home she’s always showering me with hugs, encouraging my cycling and offering pro advice!

“Just kidding.”

Martin Williamson
Martin is our Editor, Web site Designer and Manager, and concentrates on photography. He's been involved in cycling for over 42 years and has raced for many of them, having a varied career which includes time trials, road and track racing, and triathlons. Martin has been the Scottish 25 Mile TT and 100 Mile TT Champion, the British Points Race League Champion on the track, and was a prolific winner of time trials in his day, particularly hilly ones like the Tour de Trossachs and the Meldons MTT.

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