Local Riders - Adrian Timmis

Our local riders Q&A continues with someone that's spent plenty of time on two-wheels across many cycling disciplines. Adrian Timmis is one of only 26 British riders that have ever finished the Tour de France. He has also competed for Great Britain on Road, Track, Cyclo-cross and MTB in both World Championships and World cups. 

He was part of the ANC-Halfords team of the mid-80s, the last British team to be invited to the Tour until Barloworld (2007). Other riders of note from that team being another local Malcolm Elliot and Shane Sutton. 

A big thank you to Adrian for taking the time to answer and for providing the photographs. 


As a racing cyclist, which results are you most proud of and why?

My stage win in Midi Libre 1987 just before the Tour, it was against some of the best riders of the time and riders I read about growing up, I made the front group and as we came into Bezier with 3 km to go Luc Leblanc attacked and got a gap, then with a km to go I attacked catching Leblanc 400-500m to go just as we turned on the boulevard going straight past him for the win .

The Rochester Sky TV crit 1995 as it was unexpected, I'd had a few personal problems the last few years, but had got my act together, changed my diet, had been training really well with Chris Walker doing our 'secret' crit training sessions, we both knew each other very well and a week before he told me I was going to win one of these crits, it was a hard crit with a hill every lap with a hairpin at the bottom, Chris and I spent most of the race off the front together only to be brought back, but with 5 laps to go I attacked on my own to take the win and Chris got the bunch gallop for 2nd, because of what I'd been through the last few years it was an emotional win for me and after the finish there were a few tears from me as Chris hugged me.

Which are your favourite stretches of road to ride on locally and what is it that you like about them?

Birches Valley on Cannock Chase because its a road i grew up training on, always loved smashing up there. While living in Sheffield the decent of the Surprise into Hathersage, just as the decent opens up and you see Hope Valley in front of you, the view says it all. 


The same question for roads anywhere in the world?

The decent of the Col d'Izoard into Briancon, because its so much fun and brings a big smile to your face.


What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling?

Riding up Alpe d'Huez this year with my niece Phoebe Martin, never thought I'd ride up there with one of my nieces, very proud uncle and she did it in an hour and 10min.

Has racing affected your relationship with the bike? If so, how?

Always loved the bike, don't ride it as much as I want these days, but still love the experience when I do.


Do you agree with Mickey Goldmill's advice to Rocky that 'women weaken legs'?

Old wife's tale! 

We are in the midst of a well publicised boom in cycling in the UK at the moment. Has it affected you? Do you have any thoughts about why it has happened and whether it will continue? Do you see any negatives to the increase in popularity?

I own a bike shop now so yes, it has bought the main stream to cycling, seeing loads of ladies buying bikes and 'normal' people coming to cycling. Lottery money helped bring the best out of the British cyclist and into the main stream press. There seams to be a steady stream of up and coming racers at an international level to replace the old guard, so as far as that goes it seams good. The only problem is racing and riding on home roads, racing seems harder to organize on open roads and the general public need to be educated more on how to drive with extra volume of cyclists on the road.


All cyclists, whether they race or not, seem to obsess over the weight of their bikes. Why do you think this is?

To one up their mates! Easier to buy weight loss than lose it personally.


Do you approach riding, or ride your bike, differently now to when you first got into cycling?

Not a mile muncher, happy to get out for an hour if I can, but would love the feeling of going out on club runs, cafe stops and youth hostel trips again, that's cycling to me.

Who has been your favourite pro riders over the years and why?

Sean Kelly because I grew up reading about him, then beating him a few times! But also some of the young pros of today who have better future outlook than some of us in the past and don't have to make the chooses that they may have experienced or seen in the past.

What was your favourite era of professional bike racing?

Now if I was a pro again, I'm not daft enough to think no one is taking drugs but it is a far more level playing field than it was, I/we grew up thinking the English Channel changed things and we weren't as good as the ones the other side, but as we have seen in the last few years it wasn't the sea water that made the difference. But if it was the innocence of youth it was listening to French radio Tour when I started, just listening for the names of the time and the back ground sound of team car horns.   

Do you think Bradley Wiggins looks cool despite his long socks or because of them?

Yes, I'm old enough to be a Mod anyway!

Mudguards, mudguards and mudflaps or racing bike with clip on guards through winter?

Always mudguards and mudflap.


Do you enjoy a cafe stop or do you prefer to ride straight round?

Cafe stop, again nearly every ride in Sheffield involved a cafe stop, spent a fortune in cafes over the years.


Assos, Rapha, Neither? 

Assos as I stock it!

 Do you prefer to get your head down on the A6, keep a good tempo going on the B roads or get onto the back-wacks? What about the rough stuff on your road bike?

Back wacks. I was doing rough stuff on the road bike when I started, one of my first trips to Sheffield was rough stuff through Clumber Park trying to push each other off, great fun! 


What do you think about Strava?

Have to admit I'm on Strava, if it keeps people on bikes I'm all for it, not everyone has time to race, so it allows people to race themselves and other people in their own time.


What do you think about Sportive rides?

Again if gives people an incentive ride it's fine, some people need an objective to ride, whether it's a race or sportive.

Do you have any cycling pet hates?

People bringing their dirty bikes in for repair.

Are there any cycling traditions that you think have been, or are being, lost as a result of changing attitudes and behaviour? And are we better off or worse off as a consequence?

Road etiquette, more people are just riding with mates and not joining clubs and road etiquette is not being taught (not that every club teaches good etiquette) and as the more riders we have on the road the more we might antagonize other road users. I've been out with local rides which just seem an ego fest with riders all over the road which can't seem good from behind.


Cotton cap or helmet?

Helmet, I know it doesn't guarantee everything, but if cutsthe odds down I'll use one. I had a bad crash a few years ago, broken clavicle and elbow, smashed my helmet and unconscious for 4 hours, may have been worse without helmet. I'm sure some people will say how do you know it helped, I don't but if it cuts odds down I'll always wear one.

The benefits of spinning a low gear compared to mashing a high gear is often discussed. Putting aside the serious, physiological and mechanical aspects, what cadence you think looks right?

Always spun, it was how I was taught as a youngster and has stayed with me today even when not fit, so high 90's looks right to me. 

White, black or coloured socks?

Not coloured, but black or white depends on colour of shoes and tan levels of legs!


Frame pump or mini pump?

If I could fit a frame pump I would, but have a mini at the moment.


What do you like to talk about when you are on a ride with friends/team/club mates? Do you prefer to keep the subjects lightweight or get your teeth into something contentious or controversial?

When I used to train with Chris Walker it was how we'd spend a lottery win, passed many of an hour on the bike or Chris would recite the whole of the previous nights Young Ones word for word, I had no idea what he was on about as I didn't watch it. Suppose lightweight.

Who would be/is your perfect tandem partner? Would you ride captain or stoker?

My wife Nicola, been MTBing off road on full suss with her in the Lakes, even got out of the saddle together,  it was great cause I had big rucksack on so she couldn't see the downhills ;) 

Paul Swinnerton once tried to get me on the back of a track tandem with him, I refused pointblank, knew how mad he was.


Adrian is now the founder of Cadence Sport bike fitting, for more information please visit - http://www.cadencesport.co.uk/

Comments on this post (1)

  • Oct 24, 2013

    A brilliant read. Went for a visit to Adrian for a bike fit t his house a few years ago now. Never forget looking up and seeing the pic of him rounding the Arc d’Triomphe in the tour! I think we spent more time gassing that bike fitting (I was asking so many questions!).
    A real gent… great to see him featured Thom.

    — gem

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