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HomeInterviewsIan Thomson - a Lifetime of Experience as a Rider and Manager

Ian Thomson – a Lifetime of Experience as a Rider and Manager

"The Glasgow velodrome has been great, a point of focus for the sport, winter and summer, but the culture has changed, the days of ‘drum ups’ have long gone; us all coming home late smelling of camp fire... fun times – but gone now."


It’s taken a wee while to organise the meeting but as befits a man with a lifetime of experience in managing others; teaching and in cycling management, he walks in the door of Starbucks bang on time. Belying his 74 years, Ivy’s Ian Thomson could get away with saying he’s 10 years younger.

No need for copious notes to try and make sense of his palmarès; they’re all there for me along with pictures and additional information.

Ian Thomson
Ian Thomson celebrates taking a win in the ’70’s. Photo©supplied

Let’s start with those palmarès:

  • SCU Hill Climb Championship: 3rd 1960; 2nd 1964; 1st 1962
  • SCU 4000 m. Pursuit Championship: 3rd 1959; 2nd 1960; 1st 1961
  • SCU 15 k. Scratch Championship: 1975 1st
  • SCU Junior TT BAR Championship: 3rd 1958
  • SCU TT BAR Championship: 2nd 1960
  • SCU 12 Hour Championship: 2nd 1960 
  • SCU 100 Mile TT Championship: 3rd 1961
  • SCU Senior Road Championship: 2nd 1975 & 1965; 1st in 1964
  • SCU Senior Road Race BAR Championship: 2nd 1977 & 1973
  • SCU Veterans Road Championship: 3rd 1988

Palmarès which illustrate a very versatile bike rider who raced from 1958 until 1995, if in a less serious way in the latter years.

Ian Thomson
Ian Thomson at the Tour de Trossachs in 1964, where he finished 1st. Photo©Stuart Burgess

We started by asking how he got into cycling in the first place?

“My dad cycled in the 1930’s, I attended a function with him at the Falkirk CTT and I got talked into joining Falkirk Road Club with some other lads – but they discovered women and drifted away and I went on to join Stirlingshire Roads.

“I was third in the junior BAR in 1958 but my memory has let me down on 1959, I’m afraid.

“In 1960 I rode the senior BAR distances, I had a reasonable ‘50’ and ‘100’ but a good ‘12’ – I was second in the ‘12’ championship and finished second overall in the BAR.

“But I really wanted to be a roadman and to the surprise of others, that was the end of my time trialing.”

Ian Thomson
Ian Thomson (middle) with SCU teammates Henry Wilbraham (second left). John Curran (second right) and Les Mcleod (right) at the Tour of Ireland. Photo©supplied

And you joined the legendary VC Stella?

“The club was originally called ‘Stella Maris’ starting as a racing offshoot of Saint Christopher’s Catholic Cycling Club and changing the name to VC Stella in 1953.

“The big names were Ronnie Park and Ken Laidlaw, both very good riders.

“It was never a big club with reason for that being that road race organisers would only accept teams of four from the one club; not like today when you can have as many as you like riding from the same club.

“I was with the Stella up until 1973 when the club got so small there was no point in continuing; I wanted a social side to my cycling so I joined the Glasgow Ivy and have been there ever since.

“It’s a good club which has been around since 1928, they had good lads like Les Mcleod and the late John Clark as members.

“I’m still there and we have good people, Les is still there, Ken Clark and Janette Hazlett.

“I was treasurer for 30 years but gave that up five years ago.”

Did you ride much at international level?

“I rode the Tours of Scotland and Britain and the Tour of Slovakia – I was selected for the Peace Race in the 60’s but ended up not making the trip – which was disappointing because ’64 and ’65 were my best years.”

Ian Thomson
Ian Thomson rode with the VC Stella for 20 years. Photo©supplied

You won just about every road race worth winning in Scotland, didn’t you?

“I won the Glasgow Centre and National Championships, the Glasgow-Dunoon three times, the David Campbell Memorial, the Crianlarich Circuit, The Drummond Trophy…”

[Ian also won the classic Tour of the Shire and Tour de Trossachs mountain time trials, ed.]

“Scottish road races were much longer in the 60’s though – a lot of races were over 100 miles which isn’t the case now.

“And the Girvan Three Day at Easter time was a good event; that set you up with some early quality racing.

“I rode the British Milk Race twice, it was good for me as a young rider because there was no language barrier.

“There were some very good riders in the field, Billy Holmes could do everything from breaking the ‘25’ record to winning the Milk Race and then professional road races.

“Bill Bradley rode too, he was a good guy, friendly, giving advice to you.

“The first three days were hard but once you got into the rhythm of the thing it was bette