GB Olympic C-2 slalom canoeing gold medallist Tim Baillie is obsessed with bikes, and talks to CW about upstaging brides and breaking bones while BMXing.
As a kid in Aberdeen, canoeing was my main hobby, but we used to go mountain biking, hiking, skiing, back then when there was plenty of snow in the winter! Most people’s favourite [canoe] slalom course in the world is in Bourg St Maurice, and we’d spend summer there and do a few days on the lifts with our mountain bikes. Back in those days it was pretty rigid, bouncing down until your wrists hurt too much.
I broke my collarbone back last November at a BMX track. It was a really stupid fall: racing in a two-man canoe you realise that you’ve blown it for you and your partner. That put a stop to cycling for the moment! It’s something I’m looking to get back into now though, as it’s a bit less disastrous to injure myself after the Olympics.
At the end of 2009, I bought the cheapest suspension bike I could find and a friend and I spent a week in Scotland hitting as many trail centres as we could. I really got hooked back on cycling again.
We got to see the Stone Roses during the Games, which was cool as I’m a big fan. To see them in a small venue like that was amazing. Bradley Wiggins was there too, but it was busy and I probably came across as way too much of a superfan.
I‘ve got two golden post boxes, rather than one which I thought made me quite special, but it turns out Laura [Trott] has three! We were on the same Question of Sport episode recently, which was nice.
I am beginning to worry people think I’m a bit of twat, it feels like I’ve been talking about myself for weeks [since the Olympics]! I’ve been to a few weddings recently, and at times it does feel as if you’re upstaging the bride with an Olympic gold medal.
I’d been looking to build myself a bike and won a bid for a titanium Cotic on eBay, but immediately felt pangs of guilt for having spent about £500 on it. When it arrived though, I fell in love. I figure I’ll build it with cheap eBay parts or those cannibalised from my old bike, and maybe over time get better parts.
My worst canoeing experience was with my ex-canoeing partner Tim Morrison in Nottingham. We turned the canoe over; I tried to roll but nothing was happening, so I went to take my straps off but realised my hands were so numb from the cold that I couldn’t release them. I thought: ‘This is ridiculous, I can’t drown in Nottingham on a Friday morning’. Eventually I managed to pull off one side to release the tension and wiggled my way out. As I resurfaced I saw Tim’s mouth come up at the side of the boat, gurgle a breath and then go back under. I thought ‘Jesus, he’s still in the boat!’ I eventually got him back out but he was absolutely white and gasping for breath. We were pretty shaken up after that.