Monday, May 20, 2024

Chris Smart – “the Tour de Trossachs is everything a time trial should be”

“I just do the same thing every year, I love it!"

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HomeInterviewsChris Smart - "the Tour de Trossachs is everything a time trial...

It was that master of the ‘sporting’ time trial parcours, Chris Smart who again took the honours in Sunday’s classic Tour de Trossachs time trial, adding his name once again to a roll call that read like a ‘who’s who’ of Scottish Cycling – Billy Bilsland, Robert Millar, Graeme Obree and the late, great Jason MacIntyre.

VeloVeritas had to leave before the prize giving so we gave Chris a call a day or two after his excellent ride where he put himself almost three minutes clear of the field.

Chris Smart with one mile to go in the 2022 Tour de Trossachs. Photo©Martin Williamson

Congratulations on a great ride, sir – for new readers remind us of the basics please.

“I’m 41 years-old, a firefighter – in this PC world we’re not supposed to say ‘fireman’ – and live in Saltcoats, I’m a member of GTR – Return to Life p/b Streamline.” 

What makes The Trossachs so special for you? 

“I don’t know, I just love it. I’d prefer if it was in July but it’s everything a time trial should be, a test of climbing, descending, bike handling, not just grinding along a flat drag strip.

“I was pleased with that 1:06 ride but remember that Jason MacIntyre was two minutes faster than that around there.

“GTR organised Jason’s Memorial 10 mile time trial at Eglinton Park this year, his family came down, which was nice.

“We got 60 or 70 entries which was good given the current climate of reduced fields for time trials.” 

Do you get time checks on your rivals?

“No, I don’t bother with that!”

Chris Smart
Chris Smart taking it steadily on the Duke’s Pass in the 2022 Tour de Trossachs. Photo©Martin Williamson

How do you judge your pace?

“I keep the lid on it up the Duke’s Pass and on the descent, it’s dodgy down there and this year it was even sketchier than usual.

“My race really starts when I come off the descent of the Dukes, at the Loch Katrine road end, I have 20 miles then to make it count.” 

But you were fastest to the top of the Duke’s?

“I must have made the time up on the early flat road into Aberfoyle, those young guys can get up the Duke’s climb better than me!”

Do you do any specific training to prepare for the Tour de Trossachs?

“Kind of; I ride my time trial bike on the road a lot and not so far from where I live in Saltcoats is the Fairlie Moor climb which I use as a training venue to get me used to climbing.” 

Your bike?

“It’s the same Giant Trinity I’ve been using for a few years now.

“I usually ride a 60 tooth chainring but fitted a front changer with 39/55 rings and an 11 to 25 cassette – I used the 39 x 25 on the Duke’s Pass.” 

Clinchers?

“Yes, tubeless made by Streamline, the company of my team mate Daniel Cain who you interviewed back in May.

“On a course like the Trossachs I think clinchers give you a definite advantage they’re more comfortable and give you confidence on the corners – and of course there’s the self-sealing aspect, unless it’s a big tear the tyre isn’t going to deflate if you puncture.”

Chris Smart
Chris Smart has been part of GTR’s best season to date. Photo©Martin Williamson

And you achieved the ‘Holy Grail’ this year – a sub 50 minute ‘25’ ride.

“Yes, that was in the Scottish CTT ‘25’ Champs at Westferry where I did a 48 minute ride.

“The night before, on the Levens course in Cumbria I did a mid-18 minute ’10’ so the form was good, it was during that heat wave when there was no wind and I was just back from two weeks of good training in Spain.”

And GTR – Return to Life p/b Streamline took the team prize in the CTT British National 50 Mile Championship.

“Each year I target a British championship which I’d like to do well in, this year it was the ‘50’ – I set myself a goal of going top five, which I achieved with a 1:41:17 ride to Chris Fennel’s winning 1:37:38.

“Dougie Watson was sixth with 1:41:59 and with Terry Wilkinson as third man we took the team prize.

“It’s been GTR’s best year to date, we have a great group of guys and I’m super proud of the whole team.”

And you’re still Zwifting?

“When I come off the phone to you I’ll be going right into a Zwift race.

“I compete a couple of times each week in the Zwift Racing League, the races are anything from 30 minutes up to two-and-a-half hours with up to 100 competitors.

“I love it, there’s no lull to your season you can continue to race right through the winter, it keeps your enthusiasm up.

“Of course it’s not like racing on the road but it’s a great way to maintain your fitness and motivation through the winter.”

Chris Smart
Chris Smart is looking to go under 3:40 in the 100 Mile TT. Photo©Martin Williamson

Big watts, aero – that sounds like ‘Hour credentials?’

“You’ve said that to me before, eight years ago!

“But I’m not really that super-aero, that’s why I tend to go well on sporting course like the Campsies and Trossachs – so ‘no’, it’s not something I’d consider.”

The Chris Smart ‘to do’ list?

“I just do the same thing every year, I love it – but I aim to do well in a British National Championship each year, this year it was the ’50,’ I just aim to improve each year.

“I rode the ‘100’ champs and did a 3:39:20 but it was won by Jake Sargent with a 3:23:29; a sub 3:40 ‘100’ no longer cuts the mustard so that’s something I’d like to improve upon.

“And of course, I have to keep going because we can’t have those young ‘uns win all the races!” 

With thanks to Chris for his time and congratulations again on cracking ride in VeloVeritas’ favourite race.