Caught up with Scottish Pro rider and now Singletrack World columnist Rab Wardell recently for a chin wag. Here’s what’s happening in his world……
WHO IS RAB WARDELL?
Well, I’m Scottish and I’ve been a bike racer for 10 years, generally XC. From the age of about 16 to 20 I was chasing the pro rider dream. I rode at the 2006 Commonwealth Games then pretty much wound it down and retired after that. I got a job as Development Coach for Scottish Cycling but started competing again 6 months after ‘retiring’, just low-key stuff really, cyclo-cross racing in the winter then on road the next year. In 2009 I rode for Kinesis road Team in Premiere Calendar events and UCI 2.2 level stage races in Canada and Ireland. In 2010 though I thought I should really be racing mountain bikes! It’s all been a little disjointed really; depending on funding, financial constraints and the demands which come with training – it’s all a battle of motivation.
DO YOU STILL WORK FOR SCOTTISH CYCLING?
Yeah, race on the side; the Kinesis-Morevelo Project formed off the back of the road team. The manager got an opportunity to become a professional team manager at Raleigh so the road team stopped. Kinesis-Morevelo is another project, quite a low-key deal in terms of racing, it’s more about the act of riding and racing when you want to and how you fit this passion around everyday life. It’s for the love of bicycles. So now 2012 onward I ideally would like to turn pro again and ride the UCI world cups as well as the 2014 commonwealth games in Glasgow. Obviously living here in Glasgow it would be a big thing. Big commitment though, as the way I have been riding the last 4 years has been more bits and pieces. Riding at a decent level but just needs full commitment!
WHAT IS HOLDING YOU BACK?
Guarantees, like paying bills and knowing you can get out and train when you need to. Eliminating that compromise, it’s a constant compromise, you need to be 100% mentally committed as well rather than taking shortcuts.
HOW DO YOU TRAIN?
It has been sporadic over the last few years, 2009-2010 trained like a full time rider. When working through it’s more like 10 hours a week. Just need to make sure you get out with like minded friends and ride hard. Maybe that’s the compromise I’ve been talking about, the structures not been there but still getting good results; top 10 in UK and a top 20 in Premier Calendar and finishing 2 week long UCI stage races. So, i’m getting good results but need to be a lot more constant with racing and training!
There’s a lot of good riding in Mugdock Park, or heading north there is Aberfoyle which has amazing riding and then into the proper Highlands country. In the city there are a few trails, so you can get out for an hour or just buzz for a 20 minute lap. Construction has begun at Cathkin Braes for the Commonwealth Games course too. Architrail is doing the work, the circuit is going to be just under 6km, looks amazing. Through the work as a Development Officer I’ve been involved in the design as well as speaking to Phil Saxena (Architrail) and the council; Phil’s team have done an amazing job pulling together a great circuit. Glasgow council have done a great job too: identifying where the best parts are; they put a load of work in looking at the lay of the land and built around it. It is a long process though and a lot of work has already gone into it, probably 4 years. So it’s going to be a good venue, pretty much the only city based venue with a world class competition mountain bike course.
The last couple of years have been awesome with a no pressure deal. Great kit like the Kinesis frames, they are great. Morvelo and Kinesis are based in Brighton so they got together to create a team of individuals who are mad about riding and racing. It’s all about fun and adventures on the bike. Morvelo – they make great clothing and have a great range coming out in autumn/winter too.
HOW DID YOU GET HOOKED UP WITH THEM?
Way back when I sent my race CV to the manager of the road team in 2008, I fancied doing a season or two on the road. Since then I’ve had a strong relationship with the guys at Upgrade Bike and Kinesis and things just happened organically.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING THIS WINTER?
I have a broken wrist at the moment…
SO IT IS CURRENTLY BROKEN?
Yep, in a cast; I was riding an invitational Crit in Peebles the night before the Tour of Britain. Early in the race, I managed to sneak off to the front with Craig Hardy. Just moving over to fall in behind him after my turn at the front. So, I looked over my shoulder and began to move back but we touched wheels and got a bit tangled. Then by the time I was untangled, I was heading straight towards a traffic island, tried to bunny hop it but leaped frog over my bars landed on my feet and then tucked and rolled. As I did that, I put my hand out and broke my wrist. Ended up in A&E until 5 am!
Just a couple. Got a cast, went back 10 days later. Cast removed. No more pain with pressure but the scaphoids are quite tricky to x-ray. So they decided it wasn’t broken and just a bad sprain. Did 2 weeks of riding, after a bad off in the foam pit while practicing my no-handers hurt it again. So went back to hospital to get it check out. Doc said after another x-ray that it was broken; a really bad break. Scaphoid is a tricky bone to heal with poor blood supply and the bone can die and lead to arthritis if not treated seriously. I had a follow up appointment and got a mate of mine (who is a doctor!) to have a look and think it’s going to need surgery. I’m hoping for a quick op so I can get back to training and ride the turbo-trainer. I want to be pro next year, ride at elite level and do some World Cups so we do need a good winter.
NO TRAINING AT THE MO?
No off bike at the mo so good time to rest, set some goals, consider some new coaching and make a structured plan .
SEEMS LIKE YOU HAVE GOOD SET UP IN SCOTLAND?
Yeah lots of good contacts really, quite tight knit. Our Performance Programme is quite low-key compared to the UK in terms of budget but we do a good job with what we got, there is a good scene.
YEAH SCOTLAND’S GREAT, I NOTICED YOU DID THE WEST HIGHLAND WAY IN A RECORD TIME RECENTLY….?
An UNOFFICIAL record time: 95 miles in 12 hrs 10 m. Not an easy 95 miles! Starts off pretty flat, the biggest climb is Devils Staircase. I hit that after 9 hours following a bad patch on Ranoch Moor where I was in a lot of pain. I had to sort myself out mentally, had to stop off 20 minutes and had some soup to help recover.
My parent came up, did some filming, made a good feature video. I was going up for the World Cup so I was working as well. Scottish Cycling put on a Youth Mini Downhill and I was working on the Scottish Cycling stand. I needed to get there so I just decided to ride! The following day I went up Ben Nevis. I arrived in Fort William on the Thursday night and then on Friday at midnight hiked up the Ben with bikes. It took us 3 hours and we got to the summit just as the sun was rising. Me, Gareth Montgomerie and Rob Friel did it. Rob crashed on the way down and broke both of this wrists. Yeah it was pretty unbelievable! He’s fine now though; a right tough guy. We actually all went to Les Gets recently and he came with us. He rode something like 17 Tour de France Cols in a week, on his mountain bike, with his cast on.
DID YOU ENJOY THE PORT DU SOLEI?
YEAH YOU SEEM TO HAVE A FEW SKILLS FOR A XC RACER, SAW YOUR VIDEO ESCAPING THE CITY
Yeah that was an idea I pulled together with Stefan Morrocco of Morrocco Media. We wanted to do something different and disprove the perception that Xc riders are glorified roadies. We also wanted to showcase Glasgow and I think we did a good job! We did the filming over about 12 hours one Saturday. The film has had over 10,000 hits across various websites.
WHERE IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO RIDE? I dunno really! Hard to pick a single place. I love riding the trail centres as well as getting into the mountains-Riding Ben Lomond was great; I rode there last year on Friels 30th birthday. 2011 was really about trying to do new things instead of all the usual races. Friel and I did 10 under the Ben last year as well and won the men’s pairs. I’ve never ridden at Torridon but would like to ride there with Andy MaCenna from Gowhere Scotland; He knows all the best trails! I love riding the Tweed Valley too, there’s so much natural stuff. I’ve done rides before where you turn up at Glentress, then turn back on the trail centre and go up the other side of the valley and ride all natural trails and bridleways. The Peebles ridge ride is great, with an amazing descent back into Peebles. But yeah, I quite like the trails centres. People say they are artificial but they ride so well and are so much fun.
FINAL QUESTION, I SAW ON YOUR BLOG, THERE IS A PHOTO OF A WHITE BOARD WITH A NOTE ON IT; SAYS “TRY NOT TO BE A DICK” HOW YOU GETTING ON WITH THAT?
(Laughing) Not so well…… That’s one rule of life, stolen that one from Graeme Herd, it’s his rule; keeps you grounded and thinking things through…
ANYONE YOU WANT TO THANK?
The list is probably endless; anyone I’ve been on an awesome ride with; anyone who’s supported me racing currently or in the past; Sandy Wallace and the Sandy Wallace Cycles club I started riding with in 1999; Graeme Herd, Jimmy Mac, Jason Roberts for his help recently; Kinesis, Morvelo, Alpine Bikes, Clif Bar, Scottish Cycling and the Braveheart Cycling fund and obviously my family and friends. Also quick shout to my new coaches Paul Newnham and Matthew Hunter. I feel like Gwyneth Paltrow now…
Liked this? Tell somebody or Like our page on Facebook.