John Herety is a former British racing cyclists who is currently the manager of the JLT-Condor cycling team. Born in Cheadle, Greater Manchester, John joined Cheshire Road Club as a teenager and had some success as a junior.
He became British Professional Road Race Champion in 1982 after a spell of riding for French amateur team, Athletic Club Boulogne-Billancourt (ACBB) in Paris with fellow british rider Sean Yates before turning Pro in 1982 for the French Coop Mercier team riding alongside Joop Zoetemelk.
Other notable results from an impressive palmares include 1st Manx Trophy (1980), Stage 9 of the Peace Race in East Germany (1980), 16th at Gent-Wevelgem (1982) and 1st at Stage 10 of the Milk Race, Ipswich (1987).
As a racing cyclist, which results are you most proud of and why?
Winning a stage of the 1980 Peace Race at the height of the Eastern Bloc domination of most sports. It was Olympic year and the win virtually guaranteed my place at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Which are your favourite stretches of road to ride on locally and what is it that you like about them?
I don’t ride these days but there used to be a couple, they were both climbs, ironic really as I was no climber. Swiss Hill in Alderney Edge, a short 500 meter cobbled climb which we used to use to get rid of a few riders if the Saturday and Sunday rides we did had too many riders on them. We only waited for boys that came out during the week for us. It comes out near the top of the Wizard Climb in Alderley Edge. The Wizard climb was allegedly where the great British Track Sprinter Reg Harris used to practice his strength work,using it for repeated efforts.
The other one I know you know well. It's the Strines Road from the Langsett side, 3 x 25% climbs in quick succession, I remember one winter going over them with it snowing on 72inch fixed wheel, coming out onto the open moorland section at the end, with the snow coming down at right angles and just thinking we were so hard, completely stupid looking back, but there you go, that's what we did in those days.
The same question for roads anywhere in the world?
I spent 3 years living in France in a place called Joue-Les Tour, there’s a road we used to ride along from Joué lès Tours the D88 if you want look it up, it's right on the Loire river, its a completely flat road but with the river on your right there are small unclassified roads to your left that climb up some short climbs to a top road and you could do these really hard sessions using the 2 roads as a form of interval training literally zig zagging along the banks of the Loire river never actually being more than 45 mins away from where we lived.
What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling
Difficult to choose just one, here’s a couple I got choked up on, that sort of choked up on that people ask if your crying and you deny it, because you’ve not really realised you were and you get all defensive.
First one was when Chris Newton won the Worlds Points Race title in Ballerup Denmark in 2002. I was in charge of logistics for the GB team but had worked with Chris on his road program during the build up. I stood on a chair in the track centre watching and he completely and utterly smashed the field to pieces.
I distinctly remember having tears in my eyes and was trying desperately to hide it.
The other one is Kristian House winning the National Road Race Championships in Abergavenny in 2009, the team car obviously has race radio where a running commentary is given by radio tour, however it has an annoying habit, especially in the UK of stopping just as the sprint of a race is starting, words along the lines of such and such a person launches the sprint…………then deadly silence.
The same thing happened in Abergavenny, I was praying for just a medal, which for a team like ours at the time would of been massive.
Anticipating the radio race silence I put the windows down so I could hear Hugh Porter on the the finish line PA system he was commentating to a very large crowd along the finish straight, sure enough on the radio they announced the launch of the sprint, but then radio silence, but with the windows down we picked up the PA and when we heard he won it we couldn’t believe it. I immediately got on the phone to our sponsors of the time and was telling answer phone machines they had the new National Champion, half way through the message I realised I was actually blubbing away as I was telling them, hopefully those messages got deleted.
Has racing affected your relationship with the bike? If so, how?
Only in so much I don’t ride these days, which is a shame. The couple of times I have tried to ride again I just never persevered for long enough to get past that level of fitness to actually enjoy the ride. It was just too much like hard work, which coupled with knowing how easy it used to be and still getting all the camaraderie the bike can give from running a team I gave up pretty easy.
Do you agree with Mickey Goldmill's advice to Rocky that 'women weaken legs’?
Ha Ha ! The short answer is yes, I do a pretty good impression of him saying it as well.
The longer answer is to do with human psychology that I won’t go into here, but for sake of being likened to Mickey a short answer would be they can, but not in the blunt way Mickey said it.
All cyclists, whether they race or not, seem to obsess over the weight of their bikes. Why do you think this is?
That and trying other peoples brakes I find they get someones bike and pick it up as though they have an in built Salter Weighing Scale, then as they put it down they pull the break levers testing how smooth the brakes are. Bonkers.
With some people obviously the new methods of training with power meters means the weight element is one of the factors used to calculate training loads, efforts, etc.
Lot easier to shave 500grams of the bike than say no to that dessert.
Do you approach riding, or ride your bike, differently now to when you first got into cycling?
Like I said above I don’t really ride now, but I don’t think I would if I ever got back into into it. I’d like to think I would approach it the same. Not a lot was wrong with what we were doing to be honest we just didn’t know why it worked. The sports science side of things now has just given us a load of names for what we were doing back then.
Who has been your favourite pro riders over the years and why?
Sid Barras when I was younger, no internet in those days so you waited in for your weekly copy of Cycling to arrive and he was always winning, it was that time of my life that I just read as gospel everything cycling printed, you were starved of information, so when you got it, you soaked it up like some kind of weekly fix. These days we are almost numb to the amount of coverage we get, there is so much of it it now.
I kinda liked Merckx but Freddy Maertens was my big hero, closely followed by Roger de Vlaminck, De Vlaminck because of how it looked on a bike and his superb bike handling skills, Freddy because of his underdog kinda status to Eddy plus my strongest asset was like Freddy’s, his sprint. I was fortunate to race with both of them and luckily it disproved the theory of never meeting your heros, both were absolute class personified. Freddy actually introduced himself to me, I was first year neo pro and here was this legend welcoming me to the peloton.
De Vlaminck was in a Paris Nice, where I remember getting dropped on a climb with him, the weather was terrible, cold rain at the bottom of the climb , sleet further up, followed by heavy snow towards the top, we were using the tracks the cars had made in the snow. Anyway we were dropped from the bunch and there was a further breakaway 2 mins up the road in front of the bunch. De Vlaminck took of on the descent like a man possessed. He caught and passed the bunch on the snow covered descent and was in the break by the bottom of the climb unbelievable skills.
What was you favourite era of professional bike racing?
Mudguards, mudguards and mudflaps or racing bike with clip on guards through winter?
Back in the day very strict, November through to December winter bike mudguards optional mudflap. January 1st it was acceptable for race bike and no mudguards.
Do you enjoy a cafe stop or do you prefer to ride straight round?
November to December 2 coffee stops a ride, normally Knutsford Bus station where they made these things called milky coffees, think there called Lattes these days ! First 2 weeks of January 1 coffee stop, 2nd week of January no coffee stop, time to get serious
Assos, Rapha or neither?
I actually had the first pair of skin shorts in the UK, they were brought in by Descente who still are a Swiss Ski wear company, I got the piss taken out of me to start with, as the only things made out of lycra at the time was ladies underwear.
Anyway a guy at Descente left and started Assos, my first year as a pro we had some french made clothing which was crap, so our team leader Joop Zoetemelk who had ridden the year before for TI Raleigh had a load of Assos kit made for us. My connection with Rapha and the team we had means whilst I like Assos, my heart will always be with Rapha.
What is your favorite piece of cycling kit (either something you currently own or have in the past)?
Adidas Merckx cycling shoes, as classic as the adidas gazelle trainer.
I also still have a fully functioning track pump from about 1978 its had a few valve rubber changes and I couldn’t vouch for the accuracy of the pressure gauge, but I’m impressed its lasted as long it has.
Do you prefer to get your head down on main roads, keep a good tempo going on the ‘B’ roads or get onto the back-wacks? What about the rough stuff on your road bike?
No main roads ever, B roads for sure, we used to tack around the B roads like a yachtsman would to avoid headwinds. Rough stuff both winter and summer. not sure what all this gravel bike hype is, we were doing that in 1978 ,before the mountain bike craze hit we were riding the tacks of Delamere Forest, especially in the winter if it had snowed, it was safer to ride steady to there and then blast round the forest for 2 hours. Same bikes, we used wider tyres in the winter anyway, we also used a trail called Whitegate Way which was disused railway line that had been turned into a bridle way, that was used similar to Swiss Hill, If we had too many riders on the Saturday and Sunday rides we used to hit that trail flat out to thin the group out a bit.
What do you think about Strava?
Not a big fan, but you have to move with the times and if it encourages more people to stay in the sport then I don’t suppose it can be all bad. However you wouldn’t catch me on it if i ever came back.
What do you think about Sportive rides?
Similar to above really, they have encouraged more people to ride bikes and helped them have goals and targets, but they are not races and it winds me up when people write about them as though they are.
Do you have any cycling pet hates?
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?
Proper Club runs where people were taught the basic skills of riding on the wheel, we are with out doubt worse of as a result of that and the emergence of the heart rate monitors and power meters. Too many young riders are obsessed with power when they haven’t even mastered the skills of riding on the wheel.
Cotton cap or helmet?
Cotton Cap 100%
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?
90 Revs a minute
White, black or coloured socks?
WHITE WHITE WHITE. I can forgive Armstrong for everything apart from him legitimising the black sock. Its my biggest pet hate, I will never change my view on this. They should be banned.
Frame pump or mini pump?
Frame pump, even better if you can find one with the original screw in campag chrome plated quick release connector, no problem with wayward dogs with one of those.
What did 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?
For the most part it was lightweight but it got contentious sometimes, but never enough that anyone was banned from the ride.
Who would be/is your perfect tandem partner? Would you ride captain or stoker?
I rode a tandem a couple of times, both times as a stoker and I didn’t like it, so if i had the choice I’d go captain. If we were racing it would be Sean Yates as stoker if it was touring I would pick a comedian, maybe John Bishop I reckon he’d be a good choice or if he was still alive maybe Groucho Marx.