PEZ Talk: Dan Bigham On Track!
Rider Interview: On a flying visit to the Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow, Ed Hood caught up with Great Britain’s most prolific National champion – Dan Bigham. Eight championships in one season is an all-time-record. Ed and Dan talk through the World of the Velodrome.
If you’re a PEZ regular you’ll have seen our interview a few weeks back with Britain’s Dan Bigham, who at that time had won seven British titles in 2018 – equalling ex-pro Daryl Webster’s seven titles back in 1985. But Bigham has gone one better, adding the British 10 mile (16 kilometer) time trial championship to his palmarés; eight British titles in one season, impressive.
Three of his titles came at the British Track Championships – one kilometer time trial, 4,000 meter individual pursuit and 4,000 meter team pursuit with the rest against the watch on the road. In the championships Bigham’s team recorded a 4:04; this would have qualified them eighth fastest at the Rio Olympics.
Bigham recently travelled up to Scotland and Glasgow’s Chris Hoy Velodrome with his KGF UCi registered track team to compete in the Glasgow Sprint Grand Prix. The squad recorded a strong 4:05 on the Glasgow boards for the 4,000 meter team pursuit against Scottish opposition but even more impressive was the 4:14 recorded by team rider Charlie Tanfield and the 4:16 by Bigham for the 4,000 meter individual pursuit. Tanfield’s ride is the second fastest ever by a British rider; only Olympic Champion, Chris Boardman has gone faster with a 14:11 – but that was in the now banned ‘Superman’ position. It’s also in the top 10 fastest rides ever – to give an indication of the quality of this performance Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins’ best rides were 4:15’s.
In addition; Scottish team member, Johnny Wale, narrowly missed the qualifying time for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia with a 1:01 ride. Wale already holds the British flying start one kilometer record with a 57.412 second ride.
The team ploughs its own furrow independently of British Cycling and their various ‘plans’ and ‘systems’ and are seeking World Championship and Commonwealth Games selection – our first question was whether ‘BC’ had been in touch, given the world class times his team have been posting. “Not yet but there’s time yet.”
PEZ: Charlie’s 4:14; where did that come from – and your 4:16 were you expecting those times?
Dan Bigham: We’ve been working hard in training and on getting the equipment and aero aspects right so it wasn’t totally out of the blue. Charlie and I both rode 4:22 in the pursuit finals of the British Champs so we were both expecting to return something between 4:17 to 4:19 in Glasgow, so I guess we were a little surprised.
PEZ: Were you happy with the squad’s 4:05 ride for the team pursuit?
I felt it was a poor show, I haven’t had the best of weeks and my splits were down, it gave the others more work to do. I know we can definitely go sub four minutes; we’ve achieved that in training from flying starts. Saturday was good though because it gave us a chance to practice warm up drills, pre-race diet and technique.
PEZ: I noticed you have a helper trackside logging lap times then have a debrief session after every ride.
We log all the splits, revs, heart rates and discuss our lines, changes. . . Then at night we dig deeper; looking closer at the splits, discuss possible changes to starting order, the temperature, the air density – every possible factor.
PEZ: I didn’t realize Johnny was Scottish?
Yes, both of his parents are Scottish and he was born in Scotland but went to school south of the border.
He was only a few tenths away from the qualifying standard, which is a 1:01.5 and I think he’ll achieve that – he broke the Scottish record though, taking it down from a 1:03 to a 1:01.
PEZ: Your home track is Derby, how do Manchester and Glasgow compare?
Derby has long corners compared to Glasgow which has long straights and tight corners, it took us a little time to settle in to that geometry but it’s fast, the boards are very smooth and clean, not gouged by crashes. Manchester probably sits somewhere in between them in terms of shape and I’d say it’s still the fastest.
PEZ: Do you all ride the same gears in the team pursuit.
No, that’s something we’re constantly looking at, you have to consider getting off the start line fast and then it’s not just gear ratio, it’s crank length too and chainring/sprocket combination – we’re trying to find what suits each riders individual musculature.
PEZ: And do you ride waxed chains like you do in time trials?
Yes, you get the same benefits and there’s no grit or rain to worry about – we’ve been experimented with different mixes of wax to find the most efficient.
PEZ: What’s next?
We have the Tissot UCI World Cup series to race, primarily in the four kilometer team pursuit. Our current plan is to race Poland 03/04/05 November then Manchester the following weekend – and Belarus.
If we can get the funding together we may go to others. Manchester is the only World Cup which includes a timed individual event, the kilometer. Unfortunately no World Cups have a four kilometer individual pursuit, so we’ll head to Portugal in December for a UCI Class One meet to race that – and there’s a similar meet in Switzerland we’re looking at.
PEZ: Will we see KGF at the Revolution meetings around the UK or perhaps at the London Six Day?
Personally I don’t have an interest in the Revolutions, but our Jacob Tipper may ride some of the bunch races at Revolutions. A ‘demonstration’ team pursuit against a GB team is something that’s been talked about but nothing has been agreed.
# Bigham and his team’s commitment has to be admired and they are now getting to a stage where, like maverick Graeme Obree back in the 90’s their times cannot be ignored by ‘The Establishment,’ But if a rider(s) didn’t come up through the British Cycling conveyor belt it’s very hard to barge into national squads. We wish them well. #
It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,500 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.