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Jim Gladwell – the current Scottish Hour Record Holder who’s planning another attempt


When VeloVeritas was at the Copenhagen Six Day last month, we witnessed a successful attempt on the Danish Hour record by Martin Toft.

Martin Toft
We watched Martin Toft successfully take the Danish Hour Record in an empty Copenhagen velodrome. Photo©Ed Hood

It got us thinking; ‘is Jim Gladwell still the Scottish Hour record holder?’

And indeed he is – ‘best have a word,’ we thought to ourselves…

Jim Gladwell
Jim races a 25 mile TT on the fast Perth-Dunee road. Photo©Ed Hood

Your Scottish Championships – 10 mile champion ‘94, ‘96, ‘97; 25 mile champion in ‘96 and ‘97; 50 mile champion in ‘97 – what have we missed? 

“Probably my biggest ride was 11th in the Commonwealth Games TT at Kuala Lumpur in 1998, it was one of those rare days when you know you’re on a ride and I was lucky enough for it to be that day.

“I also finished ninth in the Pursuit at the Games.

“On the Domestic Scene I finished second overall in the RTTC Circuit Series in ‘97, winning two or three of the events.

“Back on home soil I also won the Hill Climb Champs in ‘91, ‘92, ‘93 and the Olympic TT in ‘97.”

You won the team championship and or held the team record for all of short distances at one time or another?

“I know we (Edinburgh Bicycle) won the 10, 25 and 50 Team Championships in ‘97 but not sure if any of these were records at the time.

“The 10 team were pretty quick with a 1h 2min 47s so maybe.”

And you held the 30 mile record with a 1:02:53. 

“That was a strange one as it wasn’t a particularly fast course in Ayrshire and I didn’t feel as though I was going particularly well.

“I actually had my doubts if the time keepers had made a mistake that day, but who was I to argue?

“Unlike when I got the 10 record at Westferry (19:42) in ‘96 I knew I was on a good ride.

“The conditions were perfect, off late in the evening just after a thunderstorm but Graeme Obree took it back off me pretty soon after that.”

Tell us about your training for time trials; did you have a coach?

“I was friendly with Graeme Obree; therefore I took a lot of advice from him.

“He showed me that I was doing far too much training with no purpose (just going out on the bike and getting tired).

“It wasn’t until ‘97 that I really cut down to basically one 20 minute turbo session; one two hour strength ride (big ring in the saddle on the climbs) and either a race at the weekend or a three hour ride.

“The sessions were so hard, it made the racing easy.”

Jim Gladwell
50 miles of time trialling was enough for Jim. Here he sets off for a lap of the Isle of Man TT circuit. Photo©supplied

And about the bike?

“Looking back the bike wasn’t great, an old steel track frame with no aerodynamics to mention.

“The wheels though were pretty good and not much different from today.

“I used a Spinergy four spoke on the front and a Mavic 3G Trispoke on the rear.

“I would say the Spinergy was quicker than the wheels today, but they were banned due to the fact they would slice your hand straight off if you got caught between the 4 spokes.

“For tyres, (well, tubulars), I would use Continental track tubs for the fast TT’s, (it was worth the risk of a puncture). I always rode a fixed (which was a bit more fashionable in the 90’s TT’s), mostly a 54 x13, or a 14 if it was blowing a gale!

“With respect to the position I did adopt an almost Superman position but not quite as stretched out as Graeme.  “

Did you ever go down south to chase the fast courses? 

“In ‘97 (I think) I was invited to ride a 10 on the Hull course (V718) along with Graeme.

“It was a fast course, although I don’t remember there being the volume of traffic you see today.

“I went the wrong way at the turn and had to do a u turn, to be honest I probably didn’t lose much time, I finished third with a 19:26, Graeme was second with a 19:15 and Jonny Clay won with an 18:58.

“I think going the wrong way made me try harder on the way back.

“That was the only time I rode one of the superfast courses.”

Did you even consider the 100? 

“No, it was 50 miles too far, even when it came to 50’s I only rode one per year, (the championship one).”

What was your favourite event? 

“Depends if you mean what was I best at or what I enjoyed the most.

“TT’s are good when you’re on form, but I wouldn’t say they were ever enjoyable, the pleasure was in the result.

“I did like riding Criteriums, they were few and far between but you’d often get them as part of a stage race. “

Did you ride the road much? 

“Up until ‘96 I rode a fair bit mostly the Scottish Grand Prix Series (think I finished second overall one year) also a few stages races in Ireland (finished fourth Overall in the Tour of the North) and rode the Girvan Three Day twice (once for Scotland).”

Tell us about your preparation for the Hour Record? 

“Because there was no track in the West, I just used my TT training.

“I think the longest I had spent on a track before the attempt was the warm up!

“The major difference was I used hypnotherapy to try and prepare and cope with the effort.

“I feel it did help as I knew I had the form but it was difficult to cope with the repetitive stress. “

And the bike? 

“The bike was my TT bike with the front brake removed.

“Nothing special.”

What do you remember about the Hour, did you ride to a schedule? 

“I don’t remember much, I think I’ve deleted it from my memory!

“It was a windy night at Meadowbank, which looking back was almost a good thing as every lap I got a tiny bit of respite even if it was only for a few seconds.

“I rode to a schedule just to break the record, the last 20 minutes was like an eternity; you just want it to end.

“The thing is not to go too hard at the start when you feel comfortable.

“When I rode the Hour Record I left the track thinking I had just missed it by a few metres, which was devastating after the effort; then I got a phone call the next day to say that I had actually got it.

“The Time Keepers had somehow missed a lap during the count!

“The downside to it all was I never actually got the feeling of breaking the record; it wasn’t the same over the phone a day later.”

How long did take to recover?

“It was so long ago now, I’m sure I was sore for a few days.

“I don’t think people appreciate how difficult it is riding the track, you think it’s a constant effort but because of the bankings it’s like doing intervals every four seconds for an hour!”

You must look back and wish there had been a Glasgow Velodrome back then? 

“Yes, what a difference it would have made, the facility is first class and so accessible.

“I’ve been doing regular drop-in sessions and riding the track league which has been great fun, especially when it’s cold and wet outside.”

Jim Gladwell
Jim lined up with Graeme Obree at the Duo Normand. Photo©supplied

Tell us about your ride in the Duo Normand with Graeme Obree, how did it come about and how did it go?

“As I was friendly with Graeme, he gave me an opportunity I otherwise would never have had.

“It was a great experience; Graeme was at the top of his game so was very much in demand.

“We were met by TV cameras at the Airport in Normandy and had a helicopter following us en route.

“I was going pretty well which made it an enjoyable experience.

“The funny thing is there was a large spread on the front of the local paper with a picture of me and Graeme, but when I got it translated it basically said that Graeme had done well considering how slow his partner was!

“We finished fifth.”

What do you do now; do you still follow the sport?

“I’ve started training again after a long break (basically done nothing of note between 1998 and now).

“The main reason is I plan to do the Hour Record again, and hopefully get as close as I can to my current record.

“The driver for this has been my Daughter Violet who was born in 2012 with Down’s Syndrome; she has been an inspiration and I thought what could I do for awareness?

“With the track in Glasgow the Hour seemed a good idea (whether I will say that when the time comes is another matter).

“I have registered Down’s Syndrome Association as a team with British Cycling which allows me to compete and do the record in their cycling kit.

“I plan to do some proper testing in March to give me an idea of where I am and what I need to do.

“Hopefully I will be in a position to go for the record in June or July.”

Jim Gladwell
Jim rides the Glasgow Track League representing the Down’s Syndrome Association.  Photo©Jim Gladwell

What would you do differently when you look back now?

“I think I wasted a lot of years trying to do everything, road, TT, and track, when I should have specialised in what I was good at.

“I sometimes regret stopping when I did, basically I got off my bike after the Pursuit at the Commie Games in 1998 (a very young Bradley Wiggins was fourth and I was a few places back in ninth) and I stopped.

“I was working fulltime and at 26 years-old I was too old to make a proper go of it but in hindsight I probably had a few good years left in the legs…”

On an indoor track with, hopefully, double discs and a ‘slippery’ bike it’ll be very interesting to see how Jim fares in the summer.

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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