I have a pair of black dungarees that have small faces drawn all over them. The first time I wore them in front of my boyfriend, he said to me, “I love all the smiley faces on your dungarees!” and I replied, “Baby, it’s only half smiley faces. Can’t you see all the frowney faces?” He shrugged.
The first time I wore those dungarees in front of my brother, professional cyclist John Archibald, he asked, “What’s with all the sad faces on your dungarees?”
I’m wearing them the weekend I get the train to Glasgow for our interview. We’ve arranged to meet in Aberfoyle during the Dukes Weekender. It’s a local friendly race that, when we originally made the plans, my mum and my boyfriend were racing. By the time I get there it’s not just my mum and my boyfriend racing. By the time I get there it’s also my dad, my brother, and my brother’s girlfriend racing.
By the time I get there I’m the only boring member of the wider Archibald clan that isn’t racing. People ask why and I meekly explain that it’s my rest day. It gets worse when they remark on it being John’s second race of the day, and that he set a course record on the time trial he did that morning, the Georgetown Cup.
He already holds the open Georgetown course record but this time John raced on a vintage Flying Scot, so he has the Flying Scot record too. On that same steel frame and spoke wheels he won the open TT and all.
It’s fair to say that when I’m sat down with him later, after he’s won the evening’s hill-climb and his girlfriend has won the women’s race and the pair are relaxing in matching Dukes Weekender jerseys, he’s having a good day. The first thing I ask is what’s the most stressful thing in his life right now?
John tells me it’s “five rowdy cyclists living in close quarters,” referring to the student halls he shares with his Huub-Wattbike team-mates. Without really thinking about the maths of it, I say, “And you’re number six.” “No, no,” he corrects me, “I include myself in that.”
It’s this, his inclusion as “one of the lads”, that’s the biggest change I’ve seen in my brother since he embarked on this adventure to Derby (or the People’s Republic of Derbados as his colleagues are fond of calling it). John has always been part of the community, whether it be the Scottish cycling scene we’re surrounded by tonight, or the local swimming club for which he was a coach, but I’ve never known him as one of the lads.
Read the full interview with John Archibald in this week’s Cycling Weekly magazine. On sale Thursday, September 26 and available in newsagents, WHSmith and supermarkets priced £3.25.