Thursday, August 5, 2021
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Jim Linden – Part Two; “It’s life, man!”

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In Part One we spoke about Jim Linden’s achievements, the early days and his training; in Part Two we open with the $64,000 question…

Why come back?

“I’d pedalled out to the start of a ‘50’ in 1970 on the old Loch Lomondside course, I had one of the children in a wicker basket on the back of the bike.

Someone suggested; “why not ride, Jim?”

“I protested that I had the bairn but they said they’d take care of the wee one so I took the basket off, got a start on the line and rode.

“I did something like a 2:32.

“At the finish there was this person that neither my wife or I liked and he was crowing about the fact that he’d; “just beaten Linden!”

“I went home and told my wife and she said; “why not come back, Jim?”

“That was the start of it.

Jim Linden

Linden was on the comeback trial with the first ‘green shoots,’ a third place to Andy Kirk in a ‘30’ with 1:14:51 in May 1971.

He moved up to 50 mile time trials, getting down to a 2:03 before riding 100 mile time trials and getting down to a 4:18.

But he couldn’t be coaxed into a 12 hour that year.

Jim Linden
Jim Linden receiving another trophy. Photo©supplied

His preparation over the winter of ‘71/’72 in preparation for his BAR bid was decidedly ‘old school’ with Sunday runs around the 106 mile Crianlarich circuit with the Ivy CC boys.

It wasn’t all plain sailing though, he related a tale to Cycling Weekly’s Scottish correspondent, Ann Horn of stumbling into a hotel, gulping down a brandy or two then phoning his wife to launch a rescue mission with the family car. 

When hostilities commenced he got his ‘50’ time down to a 2:01 then rode a 12 hour before he’d participated in his first ‘100’ of the year, scoring a highly respectable 259 miles before winning the ‘100’ champs with a 4:14 before lowering that later to a 4:13.

His final BAR winning times were: 2:0:24 – 4:13:22 and 260.5 miles for a 23.435 mph average; the Scottish BAR champion again after a decade and more.

This time around he was on gears rather than his faithful 81” fixed but he didn’t go in for the ‘mega’ gears which were just beginning to appear on the scene.

He gave us his views on his comeback bike.

Jim Linden
Jim Linden in his first 12 Hour TT, climbing Bishopton Hill. Photo©supplied

I bought a Hugh Porter, it was a 73 degree parallel design [frame angles – remember those? ed.] it was quite roughly built, not beautifully put together like a Flying Scot or a Mercian but it did the job.

I see that longer wheel bases are back in fashion now for comfort, we all wanted short wheel base machines back in the day because they were meant to be more responsive.”

Linden has strident views on most things cycling.

“You know that folks used to say I went well because I was taking drugs.

The only drugs I took were Paracetamol and Codeine and that was because in 100 mile and 12 hour time trials I used to get severe back pains.

“There was one 12 hour down on Westferry where it was raining hard, I had to get off because I was in so much pain with my back.

My helpers rubbed brandy into my back muscles but it was to no avail and I had to abandon.

“Eventually I put my handlebars up by a half-inch and the problem was solved.

“But I remember I was at the Isle of Man week of racing and was chatting to a well-known British rider, he was going to be riding against the Irish star, Shay Elliott – who won the race – and the other continental professionals, I suggested that he was in for a hard day out in that company.

“He reached into his jersey picket and showed me a handful of pills – amphetamines, so it did go on in British races.”

And is he still on the bike out there in Hong Kong and does the competitive fire still burn within?

“Weather permitting, yes, around 250 kilometres each week with about 60 of those on a stationary bike at my health club. 

You can set it up so as you’re climbing; I like to climb.

“There was a guy in the club who’s about 10 years younger than me who was boasting about his performance on the stationary bike over 20 kilometres.

“I told him I could beat that time by five minutes; and I did.

“‘How did you do that ?’ he asked me.’

“It’s all about attitude of mind.”

Jim Linden
Jim Linden (2nd L) in Hong Kong. Photo©supplied

We’d heard that unfortunately he’d had a spill or two when he was out on the bike?

“I was doing about 60 kph when a car pulled out in front of me – there was nothing I could do, the impact flung me six metres.

I ended up in hospital but I was relieved that I felt the pain when I regained consciousness – that meant I was alive!” 

How is his health, generally?

“My heart rate is still down in the low 40’s but I have what’s known as ‘essential tremor’ it’s a nervous system (neurological) disorder that causes involuntary and rhythmic shaking, sometimes I have a lot of certificates to sign as part of my consultancy work so I have to steady my hand.

A wee dram of whisky does the trick but I drink water after so as I don’t dehydrate.” 

And doesn’t he miss ‘the old country’?

“Of course, I miss my friends in the Lomond Roads, it was a wonderful club, age politics, creed, colour were irrelevant the common denominator was cycling!

I love looking at old cycling picture from my early days in the sport, you ran an interview with the late EV Mitchell, I used to visit his house and have a plate of spaghetti with him and his parents – cycling was the bond.” 

Jim Linden
Jim Linden, always a cyclist. Photo©supplied

Regrets?

“Never!

It’s life, man!” 

Jim Linden, LEGEND.

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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