1. Can you introduce yourself and let our readers know a little bit about you?
My name is Gary Macdonald, I'm 32 years old and pretty weathered!! I’m better known for my motor cycle trials exploits in the UK and around Europe. I’ve been competing in Trials for 24 years now and I’m currently 11x Scottish Champion. I was the 2010 British Expert Champion (the only Scotsman ever to hold a British Trials Title) and I’ve been front runner and on the podium position three times at the Scottish Six Day Trials (the biggest & best trial on the planet), including finishing runner-up in 2015. A joiner to trade, I’m currently working for my father’s business (A.H. MacDonald Joiner & Contractors).
2. How long have you been involved in cycling?
Four years on and off so a bit of a new boy shall we say! Never too old to try something different, and it’s a challenge.
3. What got you into the sport in the first place?
I saw a random advert on Facebook for the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross race in 2013 and thought, “That looks challenging,” so I entered it and built myself a Kinesis Pro6 with the help from Ben Thompson at Nevis Cycles and the awesome guys at Hopetech.
I am very lucky to have the help from these specialist guys. I’ve known Woody Hole for a long time through trials and without him and the rest of the guys at Hopetech I’d not be doing any cycling, to be honest, as I couldn’t afford to do it. BIG THANK YOU!!
4. Can you remember the first CX race you went to, and how did it go?
As above, my first ever CX race was the 3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross. Had no idea what I was in for but I managed round with 1 puncture in 54th place with a time of 3hr 48mins. I guess at the time that was OK considering I had only some hill running and very little bike fitness. Oh and my back hurt for 2 weeks after this, but it’s all I aim for ever year now.
5. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen at a cross race?
Being new to CX racing I’ve not seen much so I guess for me, I’d say seeing how ridiculous Grant Ferguson makes us all look when we’re giving it all and he simply throws mud in our faces. Crazy in my book how matchsticks are that powerful!
6. What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve done at a race, on or off a bike?
Oh well it was a very recent actually. I tried my first ever XC MTB race which was the British champs at Cathkin Braes in July. Being used to SCX races (and they’re all I know, to be honest) I got handed my chip and cable ties. It always goes on the ankle at SCX races so I cable tied the chip to my ankle for the entire day!
It was only at the end Mark Young asked, “Where’s your chip, it’s not on your fork?”
I looked and replied, “On my ankle, where else?”
He burst into laughter and said, “It’s not cyclocross!”
So probably that!
7. Do you have a favourite course to be photographed on?
Has to be Irvine for the best pictures, the beach and wild sea with rolling hills looks ace!!! Big thanks to Graham Milne for his tip top photography as always!
8. Are there any riders you particularly admire?
A certain Mr Davie Lines, I’d have to say. He’s made me feel welcome in the sport. As a new guy I had no idea about anything. Within a few months I got to know who Davie was, he is one fast guy and knows how to go into beast mode.
I also eventually got to know Franco Porco better when I went on a road trip down to Durham British National Trophy race in the “Disco Bus” last year. That weekend I learnt so much about cyclocross and the in’s and out’s of actual training, Power/Thresholds/Watts/TSS etc. I soon got on the training plan from Davie at Espresso Cycle Coaching for 7 weeks through the SCX series and came on a lot towards the end.
Also must thank Davie for allowing me to get the bike washed in the pits. Not many competitors would do this to possible rivals but he’s happy to help and is certainly a good guy in the cycle world ! Other riders such as Gary McCrae and Crawfy (Crawford Carrick-Anderson, who I’ve known a long time through trials - that man has many talents). All great athletes!
I have massive respect to all racers who give 110% especially the young ones like Ben McMullen, who is also a dab hand helping in the pits, as well as winning every race he enters!! Connor Johnstone, Sean Flynn, Cameron Mason, Struan Pryde, Lucy Grant, Isla Short to name just a few. They are the future and, by heck, they go like shit off a shovel!
9. Any particular highlights from last season?
Battle of Balloch Castle in 2015 was my first actual CX win - a brilliant race against Gary McCrae and Steven Jackson.
Poor Davie had a wee tangle with his new bike and brake cables and that gave me the opportunity to thrash it out with Gary to the finish line. Had a few other wins after this, with Kick in the Knock and the Valentine’s Day Mas-cx-acre. Fourth at Irvine beach, just behind Rab (Wardell) in the Scottish Champs was a good moment as he dominated the CX series the year before - it was good to see him back. 17th in British CX elite was not too shabby and Grant Ferguson didn’t lap me, that’s a BIG HIGHLIGHT!! Also, winning the Kinesis Aggregate 100 recently.
10. Finally, what are you looking forward to this season?
3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross again. I love this event, even though it makes me want to cry with back pain - it’s my favourite event of the year. I’ve never looked back since my random entry in 2013. Since then I’ve had a solid 8th in 2014 with 3hr 15min, and a 12th last year making up the winning team with Oldham and Jebb. I’d like to think a top 5 is a possibility. Who knows, but with another year or so I’ll eventually build an engine good enough.
Hopefully I’ll just enjoy the Raleigh SCX Series and get the craic with everyone is always something I look forward to and finally maybe some good results and battles along the way. See you all for some #fullgas in October!
Oh and can someone put in a big stair case please. I am yet to try more than 3 steps, so don’t go shortening them FRANCO!!