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John Archibald – on breaking the Scottish 10 Mile Time Trial record

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It’s hard to believe that since I started cycling in 1971 nearly four minutes have been hacked off the Scottish 10 mile time trial record; when I started it stood at 22 minutes and 14 seconds:

  • 1971  P.Templeton  (Dundee Thistle R.C.)  22 mins 14 secs

It now stands at 18 minutes and 38 seconds thanks to that man John Archibald (Pro Vision) – a time he achieved this morning on the fast dual carriageway tarmac beside the River Clyde at Westferry.

The time he beat to take the record was the 18:47 set by the late, great Jason Macintyre on 11th July 2007; in the years between Templeton’s record and Jason’s the times chipped away like this:

  • 1972  Dave McCallum  (Dundee R.C.)  22 mins 13 secs
  • 1978  Dave Hannah  (Regent C.C./Connors Cycles)  22 mins 01 secs
  • 1978  Dave Hannah  (Regent C.C./Connors Cycles)  21 mins 58 secs
  • 1979  Dave Hannah  (Regent C.C./Connors Cycles)  21 mins 47 secs
  • 1980  Alan Hewitt (rest in peace) (Glasgow United C.C.)  21 mins 27 secs
  • 1981  Davie Whitehall  (Regent C.C./Connors Cycles)  21 mins 25 secs
  • 1982  Davie Whitehall  (Regent C.C./Connors Cycles)  20 mins 49 secs
  • 1989  Graeme Obree  (Wallacehill C.C./AOS/Olympia)  20 mins 48 secs
  • 1989  Graeme Obree  (Wallacehill C.C./AOS/Olympia)  20 mins 40 secs
  • 1989  Graeme Obree  (Wallacehill C.C./AOS/Olympia)  20 mins 28 secs
  • 1989  Graeme Obree  (Wallacehill C.C./AOS/Olympia)  20 mins 21 secs
  • 1990  Graeme Obree  (Wallacehill C.C./AOS/Olympia)  19 mins 49 secs
  • 1996  Jim Gladwell  (Edinburgh Bicycle)  19 mins 42 secs
  • 1997  Graeme Obree  (unattached)  19 mins 29 secs

I have to confess that I’m unsure if there were any improvements between the 1997 ride of Graeme’s and Jason’s stunning 2007 ride – if there are then I’d be very glad to hear from readers.

But enough of the ‘good old days,’ John Archibald is the man of today and tomorrow – here’s what he had to say to VeloVeritas on the day he became a Scottish record holder.

John Archibald
John Archibald. Westferry, August 2017. Scottish 10 Mile Time Trial record. Photo©Robert Braid

Congratulations, John – ‘back in the day’ my hero, multi ‘25’ champion and record holder Alf Engers would never have dreamed of riding a big road race, like you did last weekend with the Scottish Champs, before an attempt on the ‘10’ record. But it’s obviously done you no harm…

“I guess not but I felt that the opportunity was there to ride the road race champs before my season goes over to short distance time trials and the track.”

What did you do between the road race champs and today?

“I did two track training sessions and two sessions in the gym, I didn’t ‘taper’ at all – but I intend to ease off a bit before the CTT ‘10’ next weekend.

“My big goal right now is the pursuit qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games.”

Do you feel that ‘pure testers’ would benefit from riding more road races?

“I think so, I can’t see a downside; a three hour road race gives you so much better training than anything you would do on your own.

“I know that some TT guys don’t like riding in a bunch or over hills but even if I wasn’t in a position to win road races then I’d still ride them to build strength.

“But it’s a two way street, I think roadmen would benefit from riding against the watch more.”

Scottish 10 mile time trial record
John won the Tour of the North in Ireland at Easter. Photo©David McVeigh

Did the record look ‘on’ when you were warming up? 

“There was a lot of chat before I started that it was a good morning, it was warm, not a lot of wind, atmospheric pressure around 1015/6 millibars.

“I heard that there were some fast times coming in early – one guy had a 20:36, which took half-a-minute off his personal so I was aware it was going to be a good morning.

“It wasn’t still, there was a little bit of a headwind out but a tailwind back – which is ideal, there was only a difference of about one-and-a-half KPH between my speed out to the turn and my speed back.

“I think there were four of us sub 20 minutes – Kyle Gordon 19:37; Douglas Watson 19:41 and David Griffiths 19:46.

“Kyle reckons it’s only the third sub-20 minute ride on fixed in Scotland, ever.”

John Archibald
John complements his great position on the bike with watt-saving long socks. Photo©Robert Braid

What was your gearing?

“I was on my usual 56 x 11 to 25 gearing but never used the 11; I was in 12, 13 and 14 – I kept my cadence higher than usual at 107 average.”

Are we allowed to ask about watts – you were 370/371 in the ’25’ champs?

“I averaged 395, I’ve had similar numbers in a ‘10’ before but I’ve played about with my position and was wearing the controversial ‘long socks’ which save a few watts.”

Have you gone to ceramic bearings and a waxed chain yet?

“No, those are costly upgrades and besides I’ve left it a little late with the CTT ‘10’ next weekend.”

Back in my day, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, the Loch Lomond course was the fastest, do they still use it?

“I don’t think so, the other fast course that I’m aware of is at Eglinton – we’ve trained for the TTT on that road at Alexandria, I could see it would be fast but very busy.”

Is a 17 minute ride possible?

“You never know, it was a year ago when I first broke 20 minutes and now here I am below 19 minutes so I guess it’s likely that it can be done.

“I’m not sure I have much to come from equipment and position so I’ll have to get the watts up somehow.”

John Archibald
John’s thinks his future time gains will have to come from himself. Photo©Robert Braid

What’s the itinerary between now and the CTT ‘10’?

“Track sessions, the turbo then taper on Friday and Saturday. It was originally meant to be on the fast Levens course but they’ve moved it to a course at Cockermouth.

“If it’s not super quick then that suits me – the likes of Bigham and Gullen’s wind tunnel-optimised positions gives more advantage to faster they go.”

How’s the track going – remind us of the qualifying time for the pursuit, please.

“It’s all about the track now, I have one or two time trials then that’s me finished with them for the year.

“I’m happy with my progress but standing starts on the big fixed gear is a bit of a shock to the system.

“I’m favouring 100” just now but think that as I get more practice and stronger I may be able to go up to 104”.

“I have to do 4:24 – twice, so as it’s not just a fluke. It has to be in competition with another rider on the track but not necessarily twice on the same day or in a big UCI track meet.”

As always, thanks to John; VeloVeritas hopes to be at Glasgow for the end of September track meet to witness John go for that time…

Ed Hood
Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 47 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, a team manager, and a 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 for some of the world's top riders. 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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