With few Scottish events to choose from, Kyle Gordon decided he should take things into his own hands and travel a bit to get a race – but maybe he took things a bit too far?
Saint Petersburg, formerly ‘Leningrad,’ Russia on the Baltic Sea’s Gulf of Finland…
What was the event, Kyle?
“The UCI Nations Cup, round two, it was originally meant to be at Newport in Wales but that was cancelled due to Covid.
“I only found out about it three weeks before after speaking to Dan Bigham, so I had three weeks to tune up on the boards.”
How were you able to compete for Scotland in a UCI event?
“Scottish Cycling formed a UCI trade team so that the Scottish team could compete in the Wales round of the Nations Cup where it was the plan for us to ride the team pursuit.
“The UCI banned trade teams for the World Cups but then changed their minds again and they can now compete in the Nations Cup competition.”
How was travel?
“It was fine, I’ve been overseas a couple of times in the current conditions, if you have all your paperwork in place then there’s no problem.
“It’s folks that think they’ll ‘chance it’ and just ‘turn up’ who run into difficulties.
“I did my research and had my Covid test paperwork and visa.
“I visited the Russian embassy in Edinburgh on the Tuesday and went back to collect the visa on the Thursday – the border is shut but I had an invite as a sportsperson to a Russian sporting event.”
What was the velodrome like, I saw you mentioned it was damn hot?
“Saint Petersburg was in the middle of a heatwave which only happens about once every 10 years, it was high 20’s to low 30’s with no air con in the hotel.
“In the original room we were given the temperature was 36 degrees; but I spoke to reception and they gave us another one out of the direct sunlight where it was ‘only’ 25 degrees – but they gave us a fan, which was a godsend, we took that to the track with us.
“The track was steep, 47 degree bankings with long bends and short straights, very different from Glasgow.
“I was told that it’s usually a very fast track but they’d sanded it in preparation for the event and apparently that process takes a bit of an edge off the speed of a track.”
Silver in the pursuit?
“Yes, I was pleased with that, I actually qualified fastest with 4:12:546 which is a big improvement on my previous best of 4:15 set on Manchester in 2019.
“The thing was that they brought the qualifying forward by two hours and I didn’t have time for my usual full preparation drills but I just got up and got on with it!
“In the final I was beaten by the Russian rider, Gleb Syrista who was in the Russian team which won the European and World Junior Team Pursuit Championships and since then has been European u23 Champion in the team pursuit, points and omnium – and he’s also had a couple of big u23 wins on the road in Italy.”
What gear did you ride and do you ride with your pulse monitor on?
“I was on 113” on that track but it depends on the condition on the day, as for watts I don’t ride with anything that’s not essential so I couldn’t say what my watts were.”
I see you were on an Argon 18 machine?
“Yes, for the pursuit, after the HUUB Wattbike track team finished when the UCI banned track trade teams, Dan Bigham very kindly let me keep the machine.
“It’s much stiffer than the Cervélo, which is a good bunched bike but the Argon has the integrated head with the top of the extension in line with the top tube so it’s much more aero; the Danish team pursuit squad are world record holders and they ride them.
“It would be nice to have an Argon bunch bike too.”
With all the chat about clinchers offering less rolling resistance, are you on them?
“I ride a clincher on the front of my bunch bike, it’s a fast wheel, yes.”
And you rode the omnium too?
“Yes, I finished 12th but someone came across me in the elimination and ripped spokes out of my front wheel – I was lucky to get the bike down off the track without crashing.
“Of the four events, scratch, tempo, elimination and points the elimination is my weakest discipline, I need to work on that one.
“My favourite is the tempo, I was off the front for 11 laps in that one, scoring points every time I crossed the line but going out early in the elimination cost me points.
“The points race is the really important one, if you ride a good one then you can move up from 10th to take the win.”
What support did you have?
“I had Scottish Cycling Track Coach, PJ Barron with me as manager and helper, we got on well together and had fun; I did my own mechanicing – we were a self-sufficient wee team.”
When were you last on the boards in anger prior to Saint Petersburg?
“That would have been the UCI Class 1 at Ghent in April; I kept it quiet but crashed in qualifying for the omnium, I wanted to just get back on the bike but found myself ushered away by the para medics, then into an ambulance to the hospital.
“They took 200 splinters out of my legs, bum and back, one of them was 9” long.
“The track used to be open air but they covered it and they reckon when it really dries out the surface becomes brittle – it took me a wee while to recover from that one.”
John Archibald is coaching you now?
“Yes, for the last 18 months, prior to 2018 my club mate, Peter Ettles was my coach but then Mark McKay of Scottish Cycling took over.
“When I joined HUUB Wattbike it was Mehdi Kordi but when the team finished up I started to work with John and I’ve seen big improvements.”
“On the track that will be the UCI Class 1 at Aigle on September 30th where I ride the individual pursuit and scratch.
“After that there’s Portugal and the Scottish Championships in November, then a meeting at Grenchen and the British Championships in January.
“I’m also going to apply to ‘guest’ with GB, as John Archibald did, that can be your stepping stone onto the team.”
What about time testing?
“I’ll be riding the CTT 25 mile championship at Keswick in a couple of weeks; I was lucky that my friend, Will Perret told me it was a four, not the usual three week closing date for the race.
“I’m not going to swamp myself by riding lots of 10’s and 25’s; I want to set specific goals and work towards them, I don’t need a race every weekend but I will be riding the CTT 25, 50 and 10 champs.”
And I believe you’re, ‘in solitary’ at the moment?
“In a caravan in the garden here at Alness, yes!
“I had to self-isolate when I got back from Russia and didn’t want to go into anyone’s house, so here I am but I have everything I need and can go out on my bike.
“And I have my ukulele, Sandy Wallace bought me it and I’ve been learning to play…”
Is there no end to that man’s talents – record breaking time trial rider, track man of quality and now, the next George Formby? [Google him, you youngsters.]
As ever, good to talk to the man and wishing him well for his next campaigns on the boards.