Sunday, July 25, 2021
HomeInterviewsIain McLeod - Scottish 50 Mile TT Champion 2019

Iain McLeod – Scottish 50 Mile TT Champion 2019

"For an effort of this duration I went with a target power and made sure I didn't overcook it early."

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Iain McLeod? Yes, the new Scottish 50 Mile Time Trial Champion from Aberdeen Wheelers; recording 1:45:38 to RT 23 flyer, Alan Thomson’s 1:48:04 and Moray Firth’s James Miller’s 1:48:55.

A surprise?

Not if you remember that in the ‘25’ Championship he was fourth with a 50:12 ride.

VeloVeritas caught up with the man the day after his win.

Congratulations on a fine win, Iain, the basics first please: where are you from, how old are you and what’s your profession?

“I’m 31 and was born and brought up in the Isle of Lewis but I live and work in Aberdeen now as a Naval Architect.”

Iain McLeod
Beautiful scenery at the Bealach Beag Sportiv. Photo©Richard Pearce/Trilobite Photography

How did you get into cycling?

“I used to play a lot of football when I was younger and played in goals with Keith in the Highland League but when I gave that up in 2014 I had to find something else to do and one of my mates suggested doing the Bealach Beag Sportive in 2015 which I foolishly agreed to, being 95kg at the time (I was unaware this was one of the largest hills in Britain).  

“I suffered a lot that day but it all just sort of snowballed from there really.  

“I’ve done that event every year since as you will struggle to find a better loop to cycle in the UK I think. 

“The first two years cycling I kind of just rode around on my own and used it to lose a bit of weight but in 2017 one of my work mates suggested I join the Aberdeen Wheelers and that’s when it really took off for me.  

“There are lot of very strong riders in the club at the moment and the older guys like Rob Gibson and Colin Sim and a few others put in a lot of time and effort with the Tuesday evening TTs and generally helping everyone out where they can which helps to push you to improve.  

“Just this weekend the two of them were down supporting one of the club members who was doing the National 24hr TT, so they definitely go above and beyond the call of duty!”

Fourth in the ’25’ Champs was a solid result, that must have boosted your self-confidence?

“Yes the 25 was definitely a much needed confidence booster.  

“I was going into it having pulled out halfway through the CTT ‘25’ two weekends before and the National ‘10’ hadn’t really gone as planned so wasn’t sure how I was going to go. 

“In the end I felt I’d undercooked it just to make sure I didn’t blow up but was pleased with the result.  

“There are a lot of guys around riding at a very high level right now so just to be in the mix with them was pleasing.”

Iain McLeod
Iain racing at Miltonduff. Photo©Gordon Nicol

What was your mind-set going in to the ’50’, were you there to win?

“The 50 wasn’t actually on my mind for this year. 

“It was only last month I decided to enter when I’d seen that the club record was 1:53:30 and thought I could beat that. 

“To have gone on to win it is just a massive bonus.”

You recorded a 1:45:38, that’s a splendid time, is that a personal best – if so, what was your previous best?

“It was actually the first one I’ve done so yes, it’s definitely was a personal best.  

“I’d done a practice effort for the distance a couple of weeks ago and went around 1:51 without some of the aero gear so I had a feeling I could target a 1:46-1:47 come race day once the number was pinned on the back.”

How were conditions on the morning?

“The conditions seemed pretty reasonable on the day for it and the rain held off for the majority of the morning.  

“Much appreciation to Ross-Shire Roads CC for organising the good weather and the event!”

What did you think of the Invergordon course, had you ridden it before?

“I’ve ridden the 10 and the 25 on the course before so the only section I hadn’t done was towards the roundabout at Tain and back with the two main hills but the plan was to ride those hard and recover on the descents as much as possible. 

“Traffic can be a bit dodgy at times though as unlike a dual carriageway course they can sometimes get backed up behind riders and you do see some dodgy overtakes.  

“There was one caravan which thought it had enough time to cut into Tain as I was passing the junction which was a close call!”

Did you ride on power or ‘feel’?

“For an effort of this duration I went with a target power and made sure I didn’t overcook it early.  

“Part of the challenge I found was holding it back in the first half and I remember looking at the power after the first couple of minutes and noted I was going at my ‘10’ pace so really had to rein it in there. 

“The plan was to go slightly harder to the roundabout at the Cromarty and then try and hold on with the tailwind back to the finish which seemed to work well.”

Iain McLeod
Iain at the Corrieri ’10’. Photo©Robert Braid

Were you getting time checks on anyone?

“I wasn’t getting time checks during the race.  

“The only real indication I had that I was going well was when I passed James Miller and Alasdair Munro because I knew they would be challenging for podium spots.  

Alan Thomson was also chasing me down and he’s had some good results at the ‘50s’ finishing second last year and winning the Ali Speed Memorial last month so I knew he’d be pushing hard.  

“It was difficult to judge the time gap when we crossed paths after I’d gone around the last roundabout and he was coming towards it.  

“It certainly seemed close so it gave me the added drive to push towards the finish.”

Cervélo P5, a nice machine, tell us about your gearing, wheels and choice of tyres please.

“Yes, it’s definitely a nice bike! 

“I run it with a 60 tooth single front ring and an 11-28 cassette on the back. 

“HED wheels, a Jet black 9 front and stinger rear disc fitted with the usual Vittoria Corsa Speeds help it roll along quickly too.  

“I’ve got a couple of more tweaks I’m planning to it once I get a break in the race calendar which will hopefully find a couple of more seconds and if not then it will at least clean up the front end which is a bit of an unsightly mess at the moment with cables everywhere!”

Tell us about your training – do you have a coach?

“Tim Mackley at Velocita Coaching makes sure I’m in top form going into these events.  

“I’ve been working with him for about two years now and his help and encouragement is very much appreciated especially with the results I’ve had at the local level and starting to have at National level.  

“Hopefully we can build on this for next year.”

You ride the road – what sort of results have you had?

“I did a few of the SCNEG evening series races last year with not a lot of success so decided to focus solely on time trialling for this year as I’d been steadily improving and thought I could take it a bit further with a bit more effort.  

“I did do the Miltonduff 3/4th cat race a couple of weekends ago though mainly as I wanted to use it to try replicate the effort needed for the ‘50’ so decided to get in the break early and try push it hard.  

“In the end I finished 2nd and managed to get the Cat 3 license so was fairly pleased with that actually and may start doing them again.”  

Iain McLeod
In action at the CTT ’10’. Photo©Paul Hornby

Is the “100” Champs on the agenda?

“I won’t manage the ‘100’ this year as I’m already committed to doing a 1300-1400 mile 10 day ride around the Northern parts of Scotland at the beginning of August to raise money for the Scottish Association for Mental Health.  

“If anyone reading would like to throw in a pound or two then certainly feel free, they would definitely appreciate it! (www.justgiving.com/fundraising/i-macleod1). 

“I might attempt the ‘100’ next year though.  

“The current club record is a 4:16:05 and again I think I there is a bit of time that can be taken off that.”

With a 1:45 for a ‘50’ we think he might well be able to trim that 4:16 too – with congratulations again to Iain and thanks for his cooperation.

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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