Sunday, October 17, 2021
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Andrew Underwood – Scottish 100 Mile TT Champion 2019

"I used to get slagged because I could ride a 21 minute ‘10’ but couldn't get a result in a road race."


There’s been a ‘changing of the guard’ in Scottish middle distance time trialling in 2019; whilst Kyle Gordon and John Archibald march on with their domination of the short distance side of the sport, there are new names at the top of the ‘50’ Championships – Iain Macleod [Aberdeen Wheelers] and now the ‘100’ with Andrew Underwood [Carse of Gowrie Velo] topping the podium he stood on a lower step of last year.

Here’s what he had to say to VeloVeritas a day or two after his winning ride on the roads around Invergordon.

Andrew during the Tour of the Meldons last year. Photo©Martin Williamson

Congratulations Andrew, can you tell us a little about yourself?

“I’m 40 years-old this year, from Dundee originally but have moved about a bit, I live in Errol now.

“I work with SSE in Perth and am married with three boys who are four, six and eight years-old.”

You did 3:50:14 to win the race, was that a personal best time?

“Yes, by five-and-a-half minutes from the time I did to take the bronze medal in the championship, last year.”

Andrew Underwood
Photo©Ed Hood

Was your mindset to win, going in to the race?

“From looking at the start sheet I thought I could win; it’s a lot different from the ’10’ and ‘25’ where it’s predictable, who’s going to do what – for longer distances your never sure about riders’ staying power over the longer distance.

“I beat the second placed rider, David Ross [Falkirk BC – 3:51:36] in the Alistair Speed Memorial  ‘50’ so I thought I could beat him in the ‘100’ and I actually caught third placed Mark Dryburgh [Ross-Shire Roads – 3:54:26] for a minute at half distance then put another couple of minutes into him.

“I hadn’t actually been clocking Ross, more keeping an eye Dryburgh and eventual fourth placed Alan Dean [Edinburgh RC – 3:55:29].”

How do you judge your pace?

“I started conservatively, riding at 80% of threshold for the first two hours; around 250 watts.

“I was pretty pleased with my splits, I actually rode my second ‘50’ faster than my first ‘50’ averaging 257/258 watts for the full distance.”

Andrew Underwood
Photo©Harry Tweed

Was it the same course as last year?

“No, last year was the Stonehaven course – which was tough.

“This year was Invergordon/Tain based with a few more hills that I expected – but being light helps when you’re trying not to over-cook it going up them.

“I enjoyed the course but some of the surfaces were pretty bumpy – which was uncomfortable when you’re just hanging on to get to the finish during that second lap.

“I broke the course into sections in my mind and when I rounded that last turn with 18 miles to go I just told myself that I had to hold on!”

What’s your gearing strategy?

“I try to pedal at a good cadence in short distance events but longer distance I try to keep it to 80/100 rpm and hold my position without changing gear too often.”

What about hydration and nutrition?

“I haven’t had great experiences with gels, they tend to come back up!

“I had a bladder inside my skinsuit with two litres of sports drink; I drank 500 ml. at the start then the remainder between 30 minutes and three hours in.”

Andrew Underwood
Photo©Martin Williamson

Tell us about your training.

“The basis is a 20 kilometre commute to and from work and time permitting I try to do one quality ride per week at lunch time.

“Sometimes I might extend my run to work to 40 or 50 kilometres and I’ll do a two hour run on a Sunday.

“I did one four run on the time trial bike before the race but usually I do about 10 hours per week on the bike – that’s optimum for me trying to strike a work/life/bike balance.”

You rode a solid ‘25’ Champs; 10th in 51:59 – but no ‘50’ championship?

“In the ‘25’ I was 10 to 15 watts down on where I wanted to be but in the end was pleased with the ride.

“The day of the ‘50’ championship was my youngest son’s birthday so…”

Andrew Underwood
Photo©Martin Williamson

How did you get into cycling to begin with?

“I played Saturday and Sunday football from my early teens right through until my late 20’s – midfield, surrounded by guys who were perhaps better players than me but I always had good fitness.

“In my late 20’s I did a bit of road racing with Glasgow Wheelers where again, I had good fitness but not that ‘kick’ which gets you across to breaks.

“I used to get slagged because I could ride a 21 minute ‘10’ but couldn’t get a result in a road race.”

Do you evet feel tempted to go back and ride the road?

“Yes but it’s back to striking that balance, road races start later and the training is a lot more time consuming.

“I don’t actually race a lot, I’ve only done five or six this year with maybe one more to ride.”

Andrew Underwood
Andrew conquers the pain in a hill climb, riding for the Glasgow Wheelers. Photo©Martin Williamson

What’s still on the Underwood ‘to do’ list?

“I’d really like to ride a 19 minute ‘10’ – but I think I need to get more aero for that; and I’d like a medal in the ‘Olympic’ Time Trial Championship.

“That’s usually held on either the Meldons or Trossachs course, and both are suited to me.”

Finally, the 100 mile championship, this year – just two seniors and three ladies riding, the rest were all veterans, why do you think that is?

“The ‘100’ takes a lot more patience than a ‘10’ or ‘25’ and that’s one reason – another is the mental aspect, 100 miles is a long way and the thought of it perhaps puts people off.

“But it would be good to see what super-aero short distance guys like David Griffiths could achieve over 100 miles…”

David Griffiths in a ‘100’? I wouldn’t want to see his beard after that! With congratulations again to Andrew and thanks for his time.

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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