Sandy Gilchrist

I-am-Sandy Gilchrist,

Born in Peebles Scotland too many years ago to mention. I work with the factory racing team as a mechanic and also with the Specialized customer support program based out of Holtzkirchen, Germany. As a mechanic, I have attended 6 Olympic Games and numerous World Championships for mountain bike, track road, cyclo-cross, and Paralympics sports.

I raced at world level on the road, track and mountain bike earning several British and Scottish national championship titles. For thirty-three years, I had a successful cycle retail business in Edinburgh. After “retiring” from active competition, I began to manage teams and use my mechanic expertise.

I have worked for the Specialized Factory Racing Team as a mechanic since 2003. I thoroughly enjoy working with the athletes on the team. It is a pleasure working with the best cycle products on the market. Fine tuning the bikes to the athletes requirements so that they are able to perform at their best is gratifying.

And it is a challenge working with an Irish manager and also working with an assistance manager who does not know if he is an “Italian” or a “German”. The atmosphere within the team is fun but with a true focus on being successful.

Melbourne lovely and sunny

December 9, 2010

Melbourne lovely and sunny not that you see very much of it when you are at the Track early morning and you come out at night and it’s dark.

Melbourne is a nice city and very cycling friendly with lots of cycle lanes and bike paths by the river for people to commute by.

When we were training we stayed at a house and looked after ourselves then nearer the event we moved into a hotel in the centre of Melbourne and drove to the track.

This was the first World Cup for 2010/2011 season and it was very keenly contested with over 300 riders.

The Canadian team whom I was working with was successful in that they won 2 silver medals and a 4th place so a good start to the year.

We left Australia on Sunday 5th December at 1pm and arrived back into LA at 10am on the same morning which mixes up your body clock for a few days.

We are now doing some light training at the velodrome in LA before flying off to Cali in Columbia for the next Track round.

We fly out on Sat 11th December to get ready and adjust to time change and temperature change.  I am glad I am not at home at the moment with all the snow and the cold weather that is in Scotland but no doubt it will still be about when I am home just before Xmas  

Arrived in Melbourne

November 29, 2010

Arrived in Melbourne Australia and preparing at a training camp for the first of the Track World Cups.

The weather down here is quite different from Europe and it takes a few days to acclimatise.  I flew in from Scotland and there is an 11hr time difference, but the rest of the Canadian team arrived from LA and it’s a 19hrs time change so they are taking their training easy at the moment.

The competition starts next week so keep you up to date of how things are going on and if there are any surprises like what happened in Poland at the European Champs.

Waiting at Warsaw airport

November 9, 2010

I am waiting at Warsaw airport for the flight to Amsterdam then home to Edinburgh.

It was funny old European track Championship.

As I mentioned on my last blog I was working for Ireland. Well, one of our riders, Felix English ( a junior) caused the biggest upset of the Championship when he put out in the sprint competition  Sir Chris Hoy, a 3 times Olympic Champion at the last games in Beijing.

Hopefully I can explain how he did this.   The race is man against man and first over the line wins.  Chris, who is a (very good friend of mine), was the fastest qualifier and Felix was the slowest by a mile. The first sprint race puts the fastest qualifier against the slowest, Sir Chris vs the young lad from Ireland.  Guess what ... to the amazement of everyone, Felix beats him.

Here is how the race unfolded: Chris jumps pass Felix with a lap to go and straight away puts quite a few metres between himself and the Irishman.  Chris decides to easy off on the pedals as not to embarrass the young boy and beat him by too much. In fact he eased up far too much and by the finish line Felix surged past him and won the race!  Sir Chris was left with egg on his face and a swift exit from the competition and on the next plane home.

Also this was the start of Chris’s journey to qualify for the London Olympics’ so now he will have to go to Melbourne in Australia, where the next round is to start his qualification.

Lesson learned:  you have to be alert at all levels of your sport whether it be road, track, or mountain biking and give everybody respect till the finishing line is crossed. And the lesson Felix learned was, never give up until the race is over because you never know...

Now home for a few days to knock more walls down in the kitchen then prepare for Melbourne.

It’s been a long time

November 4, 2010

It’s been a long time since I have had time to blog but I am going for it before Bobby gives me a hard time.

I was on the road to New Hampshire I think the last time I sat down to write.

Well now I am in Poland working at the European Track Championships for Team Ireland. (I cannot let Bobby see a photo of me in the Irish jersey as he will never let me forget it)

It has been a long journey from New Hampshire to Wlndham then up to Canada for Worlds at Mt St Anne then back to Morgan Hill.

Home for 2 weeks where I ended up knocking walls down to make our kitchen bigger, then off to India for Commonwealth Games where I wore the Scotland jersey with pride.

We are just in Poland for 7 days then a rest back home until the 22nd November when I leave for Melbourne to start the circuit of Track World Cups, from there back to LA another training venue for a few days then to Cali Columbia and home on the 19th December in time for Xmas.

I will have changed tops again and will be working for Canada on these trips.

Kathy and I are also going to a hotel for Xmas so will be a nice break.

PS. I also found time to get engaged when I was home, a wedding coming next October once Bobby gives us the calendar.

World Cup in Champery

August 16, 2010

World Cup in Champery was muddy even though it was not raining; it had dried up a few days before.

After race we then drove to Val Di Sole for the next World Cup and it was dry.

Susi had a run of bad luck with him hitting a rock and destroying his rear mech which also broke of his gear hanger, he ran to the tech area where we changed parts and off he went.

After race we had a drive back to Holzkirchen where we thought we had a day there before flying to Morgan Hill, but after checking emails at 9.30pm we had to be at airport by 4.30am next morning shit what a rush to get parts etc together.

Arrived MH packed trailer and took off in new truck towards Whistler and Crankworks. New truck is great to drive like being in an armchair and it fly’s up the hills. Two days later we arrived at Whistler (these roads in California are so bumpy and big holes come on get it together) into the next State Oregon and what a difference with scenery so nice and smooth roads. Washington roads and scenery was also nice. I am not sure if Dylan knows what states we went through boy this guy likes to sleep.

Of course the first day it rained when we were putting up expo in Whistler but that is normal now for build up.

Crankworks is a Mecca for bike riders DH, Slope style; Dual Slalom, Jump Pit Cross Country, Pump Track, plus all the partying and drinking, you can understand why it’s so much fun.

Darren Bearclaw had a great ride in the best trick completion and scooped 1st place.

In the Slope Style event again he had a great ride but on his last drop into the finish he got it wrong and down he went with a broken hand and out of competition.

Now I am ready for the long drive to New Hampshire for a Triathlon, Myron Billy is flying into Whistler to help me drive over and Dylan is going sleep all the way there.

After my training camp

July 12, 2010

After my training camp with the USA team in Kirchzarten I made my way to Offenberg for the next round of the World Cups.  It was sad not to have Lene on the start line and we all wish her very speedy recovery back to health and ready for Champery.

Susi was back on song in Offenberg and showing all the signs of his aggressive riding style, great ride. It was not Burry’s day and although he was up there at the start he faded and eventually called it a day. Todd fought as usual on his 29r and kept fighting right to the end. 

The day after the race we had a product launch with the press and new bikes about which was nice and we took the expo down on the Monday night and I flew home to Scotland on the Tuesday.

Back home for a few days to get the washing done and garden to look after.  Then to the airport on the Sunday for the flight back to Munich and we sat on the tarmac aboard the plane for more than 2 hours to see if we could fly to Munich but alas no, something wrong with the radar there. Also Claire’s flight from Manchester was cancelled as well so we had to make arrangements to fly the next day.

Next race was theTrans Germany which Susi won in convincing style. I also did customer support at that event where is great to see all these people queuing up at our expo for help and to get there Specialized bikes ready for the next day.

Back to sunny Scotland for 2 weeks then I flew back to Munich to pick up truck then drive to Rotterdam, overnight boat to Hull across England to Holyhead then boat again to Dublin for the European Triathlon Championship at Athlone. Where we had our usual rain and wind in line with Irish weather.  After race I drove back to Munich stayed overnight, and then next day drove down to Kitzbuchel in Austria for dealer launch.

At the moment we are waiting on lots of bikes to arrive so the next few days are going to be very busy.

It’s been a few weeks

May 13, 2010

It’s been a few weeks since I have put myself into gear to write a blog, but here I am.

A lot has happened since the last time.  The World Track Championships in Copenhagen seem a distant past.

After my break at home I flew to Munich to pick up truck and trailer and drive to Manchester to park it up at the Velodrome then catch a plane to San Fran for the Sea Otter which was a nice dry experience and not the normal wind and rain.

After a successful Sea Otter we all boarded the plane for Frankfurt and I guess by now you will all have heard the horror stories that followed on from there. We were lucky to be one of the first planes back in Europe following the ash cloud from the volcano – however we couldn’t fly to the UK, so we drove.

Dalby in the sunshine and a good result from Burry was a great event.

Next day back on the ferry to Holland and then to Houaffzlize where we had a day of great racing in the rain with the usual rush of tyre choice changes with Susi leading the way again ( a great ride in the conditions ).

Now I am down in Kirchzarten Germany working with the USA under 23 MTB team and of course Todd Wells until he decided it was too wet and cold for him so he made his way to Majorca where a friend of mine sorted him out so he could train in the sunshine and enjoy the beach and Sangria.

The group of riders here are well dedicated as nearly every day has been wet and cold and they have got out there to train regardless.

We went to an event in Solothurn Switzerland where the US team were all riding along with Susi.  He punctured and had to walk back up course to get to me and the spare wheels, but he was disqualified bad news.

The next day the under 23 rode to a event again which was local and they got  1st 2nd and 4th which was good, again the race was muddy and they had to ride home in the rain.  

Well I am here in Holland

April 5, 2010

Well I am here in Holland at a town called Apeldoorn working with the Canadian track team getting ready for the World Track Championships in Copenhagen.

 Everywhere you go in Holland people are riding bikes, I ride from our Hotel to the track and I am constantly being passed by people on shoppers going left, right and centre it really is a great culture.

They have built a new 250 metre indoor track here in Apeldoorn with a fantastic facility around it. The venue is ready for next year’s World Track Champs and we are using it as a training base before on to Copenhagen.

After a week in Apeldoorn we packed all bikes and bags into a truck and I drove up to Copenhagen to get ready for the Track Worlds.

The Track Worlds is a very hard competition as most countries are getting ready for the London Olympics and trying out new riders and combinations of riders in events.  Also there is a new Olympic event called the Omniuim which is for women and men and is very enduring as it covers 5 different disciplines in Track racing.

Canada had a team of 9 riders which was made up of 5 women and 4 men.

Tara Whitten was the star of the team as she won 2 gold medals 1 in the point’s race and 1 in the new Omniuim event. She has only been in the sport of cycling for 3 years as she was a cross country skier before crossing over to cycling to the track team’s advantage.

Coming out of the Worlds with 2 gold medals was a very big result for team Canada as their programme is just starting to gain momentum and well on its way to arrived at London with a top team.

After the Worlds I drove our truck back to Holland then flew back to Scotland for 1 week then I am off on the World MTB Cup circuit.  

I really enjoyed my time visiting friends in Arizona.

February 25, 2010

This trip was a visit to the new at Specialized and to the old at the Bike Brothel in Bisbee.

When I returned from China I stayed a few days in Ranchita out in the sticks near San Diego with nothing but open space to try and get over my jetlag .Then we took off to visit people I have not seen for years.

 

We took the direction via Vegas and yes a Scotsman lost some money needless to say I was heartbroken, after that the next stop was at the Grand Canyon (that is one hell of a hole in the ground) onwards then to Phoenix and a dinner at the Porsche club where I was a guest.  It was nice to see all these cars lined up outside the meeting. I also stayed with an old friend of mine, Colin Laing, who used to build cycle frames for me when he lived in the UK. He left Middlesbrough to open a shop and build bikes in Tucson many years ago.

Onward towards Sedona passing through Flagstaff which had a heck of a lot of snow.

 We stayed in Sedona for a night then visited my first Brothel (honest) in Bisbee Arizona, the Bisbee Bicycle Brothel. That shop was a blast from the past with lots of old bikes and parts including many photos around the walls. Its slogan is the best Wheelhouse in Arizona.

After a drive back up to California, I left LA for San Fran where I met up with Susi and Benno who were over at Specialized Offices checking out some new stuff.

It was nice meeting up with old friends at Morgan Hill and checking out the offices.  In all the time that I have worked for Specialized I have never been to Morgan Hill, so it was good seeing where it all happens, very impressive.

After some bike testing Susi flew home and Benno and I travelled to watch the Maverick Surfing Challenge.  We just missed the big wave that broke into the spectators.

I left Benno to tidy up.  I had orders to fly home for Valentine’s Day, which I made by the skin of my teeth.  Benno gets away with lots and did not come back to Europe until later.

 

Luckily the snow was all away when I got back to Scotland and it was nice to get back out on the bike again.  As I am writing this the snow has staring to fall again, roll on summer.

China is a very cold place in January

January 25, 2010

China is a very cold place in January, not far from where we are staying the temperature dropped to minus 32 which is very cold even for somebody from Scotland.

We were lucky as we were staying at a hotel very close to the track and not far to travel to the races because when they finish late at night its cold.

Well Canada had another successfull Track World Cup winning 2 gold’s with Zach Bell in the point’s race and also the scratch race.

Tara Whitten who came from Cross Country skiing also won 2 bronze medals one in the pursuit and one in the team pursuit  

In fact the USA came away with nil medals so you can imagine the friendly rivalry between the two countries.

The legacy of the Beijing Olympics is still very much about and the people very helpful and friendly.

I leave later today to fly back to LA where I will spend a few days visiting friends then fly down to Morgan Hill to visit Specialized offices which I am looking forward to and catch up with more friends.

I arrived back in Scotland

January 15, 2010

I arrived back in Scotland from Columbia to the cold weather and then 4 days later I received the keys to my new house and we started to move items in my small car 13 journeys that was an Epic.

I borrowed a friends van to move the large stuff on the 22nd Dec and we just got finished moving in and the heavens opened and for about 2 weeks I have been shovelling snow. The joys of winter.

I am writing this note in LA as I am hear working at the velodrome for the Canadians again who are preparing for the next Track World Cup in Beijing we leave for China at the weekend back into the snow and cold.

Will give you a update as soon as we move over to China.

Final few days in Columbia for Track World Cup

December 14, 2009

Well we all survived the heat and rain storms that go with visiting Columbia.

The racing days are long with the last session finishing around midnight then back for some food and bed and getting ready for next day’s racing. Session’s on the track start about 10am which means at the venue 3 hours before to sort out gears check out bikes from the night before and give then a clean down to get rid of all the dust that collects on them and then move them from our cabin to track centre ready for the riders doing there warm up prior to completion.

The Canadian team had lots of good rides with them coming away from Columbia with  gold medals for the women team pursuit and also two silver medals and  3 fourth places which is rather good when they all have to travel to LA for track training which they fund themselves and also funding there flight’s to Columbia.

 There was one spectacular crash in the men’s Keirin were the Italian rider flew over the barrier and fell 3 metres to the ground and got away with only a few cuts and bruises ( they are hard men these trackies )

Our next venture is a training camp in LA early January 2010 then straight to Bejing for the next Track World Cup.

Myself I am home for Xmas and move into a new house 1 week before it so going to be busy again.  No Cyclo Cross in Belgium for me this winter as I really need to get all things tidied up.

Have a Merry Xmas and as they say in Scotland a Guid New Year

More kilometres in Majorca

December 8, 2009

Well I survived the rest of the training camp with the Great Britain Rowing team in Majorca only just though. We managed to get over 36hrs bike riding in the 2 weeks we were there and I did not go near the athletes when they got on their ergo rowing machines and also they had a programme of weights to do as well.  I was tired enough trying to keep up with them on the bike.

Home for a day then left very early next morning to fly to Columbia from Scotland via Paris arriving to all the hustle and bustle that Columbia is. I am here working for the Canadian National team for the next Track World Cup. Two of the riders missed their flights at Houston Texas due to flights being delayed by snow who said that Scotland’s weather is bad !!.  We are staying at a hotel in Cali which is at sea level which is not as bad as being at altitude.  A total of 16 riders with a mix of women and men so  I am sure I am going to be busy with a lot of gear changes and gluing tyres on.

We are into training days at the Track World Cup and every bus journey to the track  is an adventure, we like a lot of other teams take the transport that the organisation provide as it is a lot safer than riding to the track.  Just today the Russian team who run the gauntlet with the traffic in riding to the track had one of their riders thrown of their bike and mugged and they also stole the bike.

The people who run the event are very friendly and cannot do enough to help us but advise not to venture from the hotel without an armed guard, in the hotel foyer there are also armed guards for security.

The track is quite fast and a little different as it’s not fully covered just a covering over the riding part of the track.

The racing starts in a few days so will let you how the Canadian team get on and any more news.

Regards

 Sandy

Great Britain Rowing Team Majorca Training camp 2009

November 30, 2009

These Rower’s are very disciplined and certainly train hard we have 24 in total here a mixture of women and men. The women are what are called lightweight women and open women and the men the lightweight team.

So far in 6 days we have put in 18 hrs on the bike plus they have also done weights and put kilometres in on their concept rowing machines which they drove over from England.

Luckily for us the weather has been very kind with lots of sun and not so much wind.

A typical day is breakfast 6.30 am, on bikes by 7.30 am we cannot get out any earlier on bikes as it only comes light about then, back for lunch at midday then over to weights by 3.30 pm then after that they are on their rowing machines at least 5km or up to 24 kms.

 I have only been organising their riding and also going out with them on my road bike which I find hard enough.

 My job is not only coaching them on the road  but making sure the bikes are running okay, they seem do think the bikes are like weights and try and push enormous gears so it has been a challenge to get them adapted to riding like road men and women.

Any way one more week to go at this camp then off to Columbia for a Track World Cup.

 

I will keep you updated if I can hang on for another week  !!!   

Regards

Sandy

Finally back in Peebles

October 26, 2009

Finally back in Peebles, Scotland after a really good season on the road.

Driving back from last MTB event the Roc  was an interesting drive, we left there in sunshine and in shorts and as I drove up through Italy into Austria the weather was changing and going up the Brenner pass it was snowing so it looked really funny arriving in Holzkirchen near Munich in shorts with snow flurries floating about.

Susi kept up his tradition of puncturing in the Roc where he was in a really good position and was on for the win.  We knew he was committed for a strong ride on the Sunday when he doubled his warm up time on the rollers to 40secs from Friday’s race.

Lene also had the misfortune to puncture, quite a bit before first tech area where I was and she had tried to use the gas canister to repair flat but unfortunately she had torn a hole on side of the tyre. I received info from Gun Rita who was also riding so I made my way back down the course to meet her wheels in hand, eventually we met up and she was back racing again.  Somewhere before next tech area where Benno was she also lost her shoe plate which had come off completely of her shoe which is possibly with her having to run a long way to tech area so she abandoned.

She made up for her disappointment later with the largest glass of Hoegaarden I have ever seen.  

Burry by his own description had no legs for the first part of the races then they seemed to kick in.  He ploughed his way through the field to enjoy the experience of the Roc.

I now leave the Mountain bike scene for a short while and change some of my tools in the tool box to tools for the track and road. First stop Majorca for a road camp with the Great Britain Rowing team where I do some coaching and also mechanic work for them, and then immediately I am off to Columbia for a track World Cup working for Canada (you could say a prostitute with tools)!!!

All credit to Bobby hanging on to Susi in the race they are doing in SA, but I bet Susi was loving every minute of turning up the pressure when he could and listening to him squealing. Well done Bobby.

Have fun over the winter season.

Here I am back in sunny England

September 29, 2009

Here I am back in sunny England working with the Great Britain Rugby team getting there wheelchairs ready for there next competition in Europe.

It is nice working with different athletes who have lots of different needs from able body ones.

My job has been sorting out the bearings and the tyres on the competition chairs so they all run smoothly, from working with Specialized where most things are well organised and all things in place for the athletes to perform its very challenging to attack the problems that wheelchair athletes have.

Next week back to Holzkirchen then the drive down to Nice for the Roc which always a great event.

Looking forward to Susi's choice of tyres on this rocky terrain and hope he is not what Bobby calls a fecking ejit !!

We are down in Schladming in Austria

September 15, 2009

We are down in Schladming in Austria now getting ready for the final World Cup. On the drive from Champery to Schladming we stopped off at Holzkirchen to say hello to the team there as Lene and Todd have not visited before.

The last few weeks are having been hectic, Australia then straight back to Champery in Switzerland. Visited friends at Aigle at UCI centre to say hello and catch up.

Lene and Burry result’s the last few weeks also have been great and a pleasure working with these elite athletes, also not to forget about Todd and Susi.

Susi being the pro that he is is also looking for ways of improvement and likes to test us mechanics out. The course at Champery was getting quite cut up and Susi always likes his fast tyres SLK’S, well just before the start in the holding box he decides to change the front wheel to a  LK tyre no problem you think except he also wanted to change to thin brake rotors and thicker end caps, that done he rolls to the start line then he says can you cut out the centre knobs please the perfect gentleman he offered to hold the bike while I started to cut the tyre so with 3 mins to start all done  and he flew off to one of his better starts this year. You are a star Susi.

Good luck to the team for the final World Cup.

Its official.....

August 13, 2009

Its official Bobby Behan can ride on water.

What an athlete !!!

Whistler is a cool place with lots going on

August 11, 2009

Whistler is a cool place with lots going on; pity the weather has changed for the worst. It has been mentioned that the weather’s to get better later on in the week

Lots of XC trails to ride as well as the park to ride in.

I am prepping bikes for the Demo rides which are happening soon and also getting to know the freestyle athletes who are quite different to XC ones. If the wheels sort of turn on their bikes they are happy with that. Also they have quite different set ups on their bikes, bottom brackets tight. And brake levers loose, gear levers loose just in case they crash all parts do not break. Hopefully I will get all their bikes up and running for the races

Kyle Strait at week end was awesome it was great to see him back with fire, I am sure we will see lots more wins out of him soon.

Eventually dried out from a wet Bromont World Cup

August 4, 2009

Eventually dried out from a wet Bromont World Cup. If any of you saw the race on Freecaster, you will understand how wet and muddy it was not only for the riders but for the support staff as well.

Lene was great – fantastic ride. She loves the champagne !!! Much deserved win.  Lene was pretty focused through the tech area and a crash resulting in a cut knee didn’t stop her from her excellent win.

In the men’s race, we greased the chains so they would run smoothly and after the event when we were washing the bikes there were still traces of grease there after all of that mud.  But most of the riders lost all their stopping power of their brakes and the brake pads wore out because the mud gets in between the rotor and wears down the brake pads like grinding paste.

Susi, Todd, and Burry, had different tyre choices which all seemed to suit their individual riding styles in such conditions.  It’s important for anyone as a rider to know themselves and have the confidence to go with these choices.

A three hour flight later, I find myself on the other side of Canada in the resort area of Whistler preparing for Crankworks. There have been a lot of fires in BC, you could see the haze from them today – but at the moment all clear for Crankworks.

Stats for Sandy Gilchrist are coming soon.