How best to introduce our next Former Winner Series interviewee David Millar? Four times champion, perennial fast man, a man who has inspired hundreds of other Scottish cyclists. I remember riding an evening ten on the Westferry in Summer 2008. It was a great night – still and warm, and I was happy to walk away with a low 22. While this was a PB, I took even bigger pride when my minute man, David Millar, failed to catch me. He still rode a low 21
Your first Davie Bell win was in 1982 (the same year I was born), yet you have remained active and successful to the present day. What is the secret to your motivation?
A few people have asked me that over the years, but there`s no secret. I`ve always enjoyed cycling since I got my first proper bike at around fifteen, especially the competitive side of it.I suspect ocd might be a factor as well.
Can you tell us about the first win, when you were with Glenmarnock Wheelers?
I can remember that occasion well for two reasons, even though it was thirty years ago. Firstly it was my first win in the event and secondly my rear mech.cable snapped after the Tairlaw descent.Dave Whitehall and myself had gone clear on the Nick, and just prior to my cable snapping Dave punctured and was caught by the chasers.
It was a hard struggle in the big gear,with quite a few nasty hills to come over the last 25 miles or so,until I reached the Heads of Ayr, when it was more or less downhill to the finish at the Old Racecourse.
What did it mean to win the Davie Bell?
It was regarded as one of,if not the hardest race on the calendar and gave me a great sense of achievement.
You would go on to set the record for the number of wins in the race (four, along with Jason MacIntyre). Were you conscious of this at the time?
I`m fairly sure that when I won my third no one else had won three,so I was aware of the record even before my 4th win. [True – see the complete list of winners here]
Your last win in the Davie Bell came in 1989 with Chryston Wheelers – how did this differ from the first?
Winning for a 4th time was on a par with my 1st, 7 years earlier,mainly due to me approaching 45 at the time.
Who were the riders you feared and marked on your way to success?
I feared all the sprinters as I couldn`t sprint for toffee. Every single road race I`ve won, I`ve always had to win on my own, apart from one. It was the Sam Robinson in 1996,when I was away with another rider. He let me do most of the work and then sat on for the last two or three miles. He then jumped me on the last hill at Strathblane with about a half mile to go. I was so angry there was no way I was going to let him win, so chased him down and came round him before the line.
As far as marking anyone was concerned, I had to figure out when to escape them, not follow them.
Having seen the race evolve, what do you make of the new 2012 route?
It looks a good deal harder than the original version. With the extra mileage and off road sections the course should provide a worthy winner. On a lighter note, I noticed on the course description that race times were given based on average speeds of 22,26 and 30mph. I fear you would need a motorbike to average 30mph round that course!
And having witnessed three decades of Scottish cycle sport are you optimistic for the future?
I`m rather out the loop as far as road racing is concerned these days, however there seems to have been a resurgence in the last few years with bigger fields ( when I was younger 40 was the maximum field size) and some new events, with challenging courses. The young up and coming riders seem to be looked after much better nowadays, with a much better coaching structure and financial assistance available from the Braveheart fund. In my day you were more or less on your own.
You currently race for Glasgow Couriers who we hope will enter a team – how do you think they will fare?
Jamie Kennedy is probably the Couriers best hope for a result.He`s been getting better every year and could do very well on the new course.
Can you remember the bike you rode to your first victory?
I was riding an Alan aluminium bike with the state of the art technology of the day,ie.down tube gear levers and toeclips and straps (laughs)
What advice do you have for the riders in this years’ Davie Bell?
The extra mileage over such a hard course will catch a lot out,and the two ascents of Byne hill near the end will have a major impact on the result. Anyone who wants to do well will need to be well prepared.
Thank you to Davie for taking time out to share his recollections with us, and for sharing images from his personal archive! Of the current crop of riders, Evan Oliphant sits with two wins, so will need another two to equal David and Jason. words Chris Johnson.
To kick off our former winners’ series, we invited Roddy Riddle to answer some questions about his Davie Bell win in 1991. His was an astonishing ride, and clearly marked him out as a force over the next few years!
Start of with a hard question why don’t you, I’ve got to tell the truth I’m not sure!
I got away in the early move which stayed away, I punctured and took a while to get a wheel so I ended back in the peloton, on the Nick O Balloch myself and my brother Kenny got away, we got a good gap and after a crazy decent of Tairlaw summit we recaught the break, with about 20miles to the finish we turned left and went up last climb, it split up and I ended away with Davie Gibson and maybe a couple of other riders, Davie attacked a couple of times coming back in the rolling road past Butlins holiday camp, when we got to the last roundabout just before the finish it was a slight uphill I made my move and won my 1st and only Davie Bell.
I had ridden a 10mile TT the day before which I broke the course record on so I knew my form was good, at the start Andrew Ferry who had just returned from New Zealand with the Scottish team at the Commonwealth Games said to me “You’re the favorite for today, word has it you’ree the man on form” To win the Scottish version of The Tour of Peaks was always an ambition, to pull it of was a dream!
The main reason was because I had been riding well I was getting selected for races further afield, so missed out doing a lot of races I liked!
Up in the moors its pretty similar to many of the roads up here, I rode the SCU hill climb up a climb opposite Butlins [Carwinshoch on the Carrick Hills – ed] when I was younger and got bronze, great safe quiet roads’
When Andrew Ferry told me I was favorite it gave me a boost, but it was won with strong work from Kenny on the Nick and our crazy decent off Tairlaw.[Andy won the Girvan 3 day in 1987, and a few club 10s while a member of ARCC- ed]
Yes it has value, if it didn’t I wouldn’t remember it so well, outwith winning stages in Givan it is well up there as far as my Scottish wins go.
I knew it was a record that suited a road rider, so I split my season into two, first part I rode my normal stage races, the Girvan, Ruban, Ras and a few others add to this single day road races and time trials this was to give me my foundation, second part included travelling to Meadowbank to to various tests etc, my races were now only time trials on fixed. It was one of the nights where I peaked 100% it was like I couldn’t hurt myself, then I hit 47mins and don’t remember too much about the last 13mins, its by far the toughest race of my career!
Only that anyone with the power to win the Davie Bell and who can time trial well could go on and go for the hour.
Richard was always going to be talented, all I did was steer his traing in the correct way, he had a great period around 1997, he was winning nearly everything he entered so to be honest I don’t. [we’ll come back to Richard and get the full story later]
With up and coming riders getting help from Braveheart which is ran by Alan Millar and ex pro Brian Smith, it has never been a better time for riders who show potential, so many good stepping stones up to Team Sky!!
Give the race major respect it needs it, look at the profile well in advance and if you want to win simulate your training to suit.
I was diagnosed with type1 diabetes in 2008, at 40yr old. It is quite rare to get type1 in later life, it is normally something that affects people from childhood. Sir Steve Redgrave also was diagnosed at same age!I have my diabetes well under control, it has not made much difference to my life.I wanted to do something big to raise awareness for diabetes, so a friend David Brandy suggested I do the hardest running event in the world the Marathon Des Sables, its a 155mile 6 day running race through the Sahara desert….http://runningsahara.com/the-mds/If by me showing that a type1 can compete and race the MDS and it gets people with and type1 and people at risk of type2 doing exercise its job done!