The three guys behind the blog and podcasting site “Velo Club Don Logan” may be ‘foul-mouthed and ill-informed’ (their words), but they’re also nice lads and very entertaining too.
They show typical Scottish self-effacing characteristics but they are producing regular high-quality podcasts and blog posts driven by their huge enthusiasm for all things cycling, particularly the goings-on in the Pro scene and the seemingly endless succession of doping scandals, cycling politics and governmental blunders.
After listening to the fantastic podcast of their interview with Graeme Obree – in which Graeme talks openly about previously unexplored aspects of his life and career – we had to find out more about this site and the men behind it; Graham, Gary and Colin – and we caught up with them recently to get a bit of background and to hear their plans… okay, there aren’t any plans…
Just who is Don Logan? And why ”Velo Club Don Logan’?
(Graham) “Don Logan is a character played by Ben Kingsley in the film ‘Sexy Beast‘.
“His performance, coming from a guy best known for playing Ghandi, is jaw-dropping, as a foul-mouthed sociopath trying to recruit a team for a robbery. We all saw the film around the same time and, given that we are all deeply immature, we thought the swearing was really cool. We needed a team name for our entry into Ten Under the Ben [a MTB enduro held at Fort William in Scotland every year] and settled on ‘Team Don Logan’.
“Colin and I did the Etape du Tour in 2009 and loved seeing all the French jerseys and decided that ‘Velo Club Don Logan’ sounded more jet-setty & continental…”
(Gary) “From an artistic perspective, the scene in which Don returns to meet Gal, Dee Dee, Aitch and Jackie for the first time in years is brilliantly shot and acted so the edgy, tense silence is equally excruciating for the viewer. But, yes, the swearing’s brilliant!”
(Colin) “Sexy Beast is just such a great film that it needs some sort of homage and naming your mediocre mountain biking team in honour just felt right. But mainly because, in the swear count, Sir Kingsley is right up there with the best!”
Who is in the Club? What’s your background, both on the bike (racing, level reached), and ‘real life’?
(Gary) “The Pod is basically just Graham, Colin and I but Graham’s brother John and our mate David are also “members”. We also have assorted hangers-on just because we’re famous 🙂
“I’m a civil servant who lost touch with his BMX when he was 15 and only got into mountain biking 11 years later.
“I’ve only been a roadie for the last year. So far my *cough* racing has been the excellent Ten Under the Ben and a wee XC event called the Hairy Coo, held in Perthshire each autumn. I’ve also done an off-road duathlon but competition really isn’t a big consideration.
“We’re all doing the Ken Laidlaw sportive in the Borders this August – my first ‘proper’ roadie event — and a few Twitter chums are also signed up. I dare say a competitive element may emerge during the 105 miles!”
(Colin) “Level reached? That’s a joke! I passed my cycling proficiency test in 1976 and that’s about all they wrote!
“My real job is working for the Independent as the Sales and Marketing manager. This means I have nothing to do with journalism but just attempt to be the world’s top blagger.
“Graham and I went to school together far too many years ago but started doing a wee bit of running a few years back which lead to mountain biking at Ten Under the Ben.
“He said he had met this keen mountain biker in the school playground while picking up his son and suddenly, we had a team. From there a blog and eventually the Pod.”
(Graham) “Aye – no great tales of heroic junior racing. I started mountain biking in about 1994 or so and got a road bike in 2006.
“Colin and I have done the last three Etapes Caledonia (including the famous sabotaged one!) and we also did the 2009 Etape du Tour, the one that finished on Mont Ventoux.
“I suppose you could say that we fairly accurately represent the current crop of born-again cyclists (although I despise that term).
“In my day job I’m a Chartered Structural Engineer with my own practice.”
You’re based in the West of Scotland?
(Colin) “I am. The other two have emigrated to the middle east of Scotland aka ‘Sausage Roll City’.”
(Gary) “Actually, I’m a West Lothian lad, born and bred. I don’t think it’s generally considered to be the epicentre of Scottish cycling but Graham and I are here and Endura are based just along the road.”
How long has the VCDL site been going?
(Graham) “The site was born in 2008 as a blog”.
(Gary) “It’s our birthday later this month!”
(Graham) “The blog came about as a method of recording our mediocre racing adventures in the first Ten Under the Ben that we entered. We just kept it going and really didn’t change anything once the pod came along.
“But we are planning a revamp of the blog over the next wee while. Gary has a real talent for writing and it would be nice to get a few more posts up in between episodes of the pod.
(Colin) “As I find it difficult to type 140 characters without bad grammar and mis-spelling [(Gary) — you’re not kidding, I’ve spent as long correcting Colin’s answers to your questions as I did typing my own!], I leave the flowery prose to Gary, who has a real talent for remembering every climb, tree and rock we cycle over.”
(Gary) “They call it “talent”, I call it “a survival mechanism”; ‘Oh dear God, my legs are going to fall off and my lungs are coming out of my — oh look, a tree!'”
How did you come upon the idea to podcast in the first place?
(Graham) “Colin and I were early adopters of the podcast genre, listening to things like Coffee Geek, Portafilter, and Ironman Talk, and we often talked about it but never really did more than talk. We were big fans of the Velocast and its demise gave us the kick-start that we needed to start up a podcast of our own.”
(Colin) “I really enjoyed the concept of some of the early podcasts and remember getting excited when I took part in the phone cast that Portafilter had.
“Then the running casts in particular really made listening accessible to “normal” people. I still really like Phedippidations, the podcast at SteveRunner.
“I also used to take part in the Runners Round Table, thought they didn’t abuse me as much and this pair do!”
What goes into making a typical podcast? Do you script it, or ad lib it?
(Gary) We do actually put in a surprising amount of pre-work and each episode usually has at least half-a-dozen pages of notes. All Graham’s ad libs are carefully scripted, of course, but the abuse of Colin just seems to flow naturally. The “um”s and “ah”s are all mine, something my wife constantly berates me for!
“The interviews take more work, especially because people are giving up their time to talk with us but also because we don’t want to make arses of ourselves!
“For example, we visited Graeme Obree with pages of stuff, lots of which we never touched but better to have too much material and all that…”
(Colin) “It’s scripted of sorts via Google Docs, though to be fair Gary and Graham tend to craft it then I come along and muck things up with my own particular brand of chaos.”
(Graham) “We try to get to a point where we can record it “as live”, from start to finish. It helps things to flow and also helps to minimise the editing process.”
You don’t have a particularly Scottish-heavy agenda – are you interested more in the pro side of the sport?
(Graham) “We do discuss some local issues – such as the threatened closure of The Hub at Glentress, but local topics will, by their very nature, have a limited appeal. We like to think that we are discussing various aspects of cycling from a Scottish viewpoint.
“The pro side of the sport is the thing we end up talking about most because when we’re not recording, it’s the thing we end up talking about most!”
(Gary) “I think there’s a danger we could do the “Scottish thing” to death and I certainly don’t want to make that our USP.
“Yes, we are Scottish, but then the Two Johns are American and they don’t drape each episode with the Star Spangled Banner.”
And there’s a MTB interest there too?
(Gary) “Mountain bikes are our “roots”, if you will as we all first met on the trails of Ae, Glentress and Carron Valley.
“As a sport, I think it’s still woefully served by the mainstream and cycling media.
“Even the MTB magazines don’t really go a bundle on racing beyond DH stars like Steve Peat, Sam Hill and the Athertons so I think there’s a wee niche for our off-road stuff.”
Your current podcasts are 90 mins long – any plans to ‘chunk’ it, make it shorter?
(Graham) “90 minutes has become the norm over the last handful of episodes but we would rather keep it nearer the hour mark – just to keep the listeners from nodding off.”
(Gary) “If you’ve ever read any of my blog posts, you’ll know that brevity is not one of my strengths. It’s difficult enough keeping it brief without giving me any LESS time to (in)articulate myself!”
(Colin) “We are conscious of the time and I think that 90 mins should be the top end. After all how much banter can you subject people to and still expect them to come back for more?!
“Besides, I only know about three jokes so I need to stretch them out a bit…”
You remind me of “Off The Ball” on Radio Scotland, with Tam Cowan and Stuart Cosgrove. I’m not really into football, but I listen to their programme purely for their banter, it’s funny…
(Graham) “Amazingly, you are not the first person to have made that observation – and I think we would be extremely flattered by the comparison. “Velo Club Don Logan, ye can repeat it, but ye cannae beat it”, has a certain ring to it.”
(Gary) “Lots of people think Graham sounds exactly like Stuart Cosgrove which is surprising considering he has almost no interest in football.”
(Colin) “Only Gary really follows football, but we all listen to ‘OTB’ and that’s certainly something we would love to recreate.
“Hopefully even if listeners aren’t quite as into cycling as us then they’ll still find us entertaining.”
I imagine one of you has experience as a sound engineer or something like that, to edit-in the music so well – it sounds like you produce the podcast in a studio… or do you?