Spokesmen Cycling Podcast
EPISODE 245: In Conversation With Callum Skinner
Sunday 31st May 2020
SPONSOR: Jenson USA
HOST: Carlton Reid
GUEST: Olympian Callum Skinner
Callum’s Wikipedia entry.
Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 245 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on May 31 2020.
David Bernstein 0:24
The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jenson usa.com/thespokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at www.theFredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at
www.the-spokesmen.com. And now, here are the spokesmen.
Carlton Reid 1:08
Hi there I’m Carlton Reid and I’ve got an admission to make — the show I promised last time has hit a few problems. Basically, Chris Boardman’s audio went up in smoke and so I’m going to create a show around the audio that was saved from that groupchgat, and that was with Superintendent Andy Cox and Professor Rachel Aldred (in fact, Rachel was a mere doctor when we recorded the session so congrats to her for the upgrade). Meanwhile, here’s a conversation with Callum Skinner, the Olympic track cyclist who won silver in the individual sprint at the 2016 Summer Olympics and gold in the team sprint. So did you kind of do time trialling before you got on to the track what how did you get into cycling
Callum Skinner 1:59
Very fast. Now I had a pretty much immediate dislike for indurance events and I kind of immediate affinity for for sprint events. I’ve always loved speeds.
And when I was too young to have a car or motorbike licence or anything like that, it was a great way to get a kick. For anyone who’s not been on the velodrome. It’s 48 degree banking. You know, nowadays we can hit speeds up to, you know, almost 90 kilometres an hour behind the motorbike. And you get a couple of G when you go down those corners, and for a bit of an adrenaline junkie, a bit of a speed freak. That’s what really appealed to me. But my story of getting involved is quite simple. Just kind of my family moved around quite a lot when I was younger, moved to Edinburgh, went down to Meadowbank velodrome which has no demolished and just give it a go and find a wonderful kind of thriving community for people that had infectious enthusiasm. And I picked that up pretty quickly was one of the impetus behind this
Carlton Reid 3:00
Assuming one of the vertices must have been, sir Chris Hoy.
Callum Skinner 3:06
Yeah, I mean as a as a sculpt during that time, it was one of the few sports that were actually good at.
I think it was that an elephant Polo. But yeah, I have this memory of Chris Hoy Commonwealth Games with a saltire Capstone, I think it’s a chain word or something like that.
And had this kind of immediate kind of interest in the in the venue itself. It’s kind of captivating. It looks a bit like a wall, kind of wall of death in a circus, and then also kind of had that immediate understanding that this was something that that Scotland was good at. And maybe I could find success in it too.
Carlton Reid 3:42
And if if Wikipedia is correct, and if my arithmetic is correct, you were 12 when Chris Hoy got that, that very famous, well, a number of famous Olympic goals, but in
Callum Skinner 4:00
In Athens, so in 2004, so that you’d have been 12 Yeah, no, I think that’s about the time McKenna really got interested in cycling. You know, it was it was kind of a choice between that or Luckily,
it kind of got to the Edinburgh Academy level for rugby. But cycling was just something that, you know, I really enjoyed. I think, you know, there’s a few other elements that bleed into it. I was, I was asthmatic. So, while still am and splinting kind of vaguely suits me down to the groans, because you can, you know, I was notorious for forgetting my inhaler. And my mom was always telling me off and you could do your effort Flatow for about, you know, 10 seconds, maybe 20, be out of breath, gasping for air, and then you have a half an hour to the cover where you can chat to your mates and then go up and do it again. You know, whereas in Julian’s in team sports, it’s kind of a continual slog against your, against your kind of chronic illness, I guess. So that was another kind of factor that could have not to me towards it.
Carlton Reid 4:59
I mean, you’re saying sprinting there but then I look at your power metres and look at your, your sporting achievement again on Wikipedia. And you’ve got kilos there. So they’re not sprint there. They’re 1000 metres. So
Callum Skinner 5:13
yeah, the the kilos event that I absolutely love because it’s it’s right at the limit of what splinters can do. Like if it was a if it was a killer and an extra half lap, you wouldn’t do we get spent preventing it.
And, you know, it’s not the limit of what insurance agents can do. You know, we kind of poke fun at them when they attempt to do a flat out effort and their power is still about a third of of anything that we can produce. And you know, they can’t get that effort out in that short period of time. So it’s a very, it’s a very interesting event. It looks quite simple on the front on the face of it, but it’s kind of open to all disciplines. And I can love it. It’s just a kind of maxo, you know, balls to the wall, full on effort and you can end up
In a whole world of pain at the end of it you know i’d say in that in that last lap it’s not unusual for athletes to end up you know vomiting or passing out or if you’re that altitude ending up an oxygen and so it was it used to be a kind of one effort hit Oh, but the UCI is recently made it too so it makes it even more challenging.
But it’s Yeah, it’s an event absolutely love and I’d love to see you back in the Olympics. One day I was also scotch scratch champion 20 metre scratch champion Sr. A while ago but that’s that’s the that’s the limited nature of mind Germans results.
Carlton Reid 6:37
Now, isn’t it a good way of thinking about like that so the kilo was like a basically endurance event for sprinters.
Callum Skinner 6:43
Yes, you definitely wouldn’t see any of the man ones we call them in the team sprint, their distance is 250 metres. So essentially, you’re kind of
indoor athletics learners kind of splinters kind of distance like they just they wouldn’t even survive to
upsets it takes a special kind of sprinter to be able to go flat out for a bit of colour here for you. Callum in that when the when it was taken out of the Olympics when the UCI basically volunteered to take it out to the Olympics, I actually went to the UCI with a big petition that I managed to get together. And the UCI at the time was saying it was the Olympics were told us that to do it. And I went to the Olympics in Lausanne as well. And they said no, no, it was the UCI who did it and basically confronted, confronted them there. So that was no idea what yeah, that was but that you know, Chris Hoy Yeah, at that time, of course, that was his signature event. And it was a thing to read. For me it was a blue rebound event for everybody and then for not to see it in the Olympics when it’s absolutely it’s track. cycling’s you know, premier event, isn’t it? So it’s a it’s such a shame. It’s no longer than the Olympics. Yeah, I think I think and Chris Hoy is
personal story it was probably the making of him like he always had that ability to be world class well being and in those other events and it was only when the killer was taken out. I guess he was forced to try and make it in the other ones and he obviously did it to great success. But,
you know, the world of sports politics is is something that I’ve kind of started to get more involved in and I’ve not found someone yet has been able to explain to me how it works. It’s a it’s a complete mystery. Yeah, okay. Well, we’ll leave that behind. We’ll go fast forward to your lovely metal. So Rio 2016. Team sprint, were you were your favourites? Your Brits, your cyclists? You’ve got to be the favourites is that you know, was that then what was happening at the time? You you just you everybody expected? Of course. You’re gonna win. No, we weren’t the favourites. I think William Hill put us at like 22 to one.
And I think the Kiwis were on
three to one or something like that. But we finished in sixth place at the World Championships a few months before. And and you know, for a British team, especially a team splint that that result is devastating. And so, you know, from the face of it, we were we were a country mile away from being, you know, even medal competitive and Olympic Games.
We expect that we kind of expect to get the Olympics and but people almost don’t care what you do, you know, at the World Championships because they know they assume because we’ve been told this is that, you know, they’re irrelevant. It’s the Olympics that that counts. I mean, I mean, to an extent, but I think I think even with our team, people started to kind of lose, lose faith in it. We were the kind of first team to medal over that bush team at the Olympic Games, and most of the athletes were pretty blunt about it saying, Well, if those guys can do it, then we certainly can.
And it was the same with the journalists.
The pre Olympic camp, you know, most of them came to the team sprint press interview, and with very few questions prepared because it just wasn’t going to be something that was of interest because they didn’t think they were meant. We were medal contenders. There was questions like, so are you looking forward to visiting real then or something like that? You know, as from our point of view, we we felt like kind of late offseason but maybe that kind of captivated us to the upper game when the time came. So that helped, then you say all of a sudden, you’re underdogs again.
I mean, I’d like to say it helps, but I don’t want to encourage people to, to lay off teams like that again. But the pressure was absolutely monumental.
You know, I was I was trying to fill this boy shoes and that was a that was a tagline I’ve been given since the ages of about 13 by the end of the first and the Scottish first than the British birth. And what’s more, I was trying to do a performance that was equal to curse but also one that would stand up
To the mantle of my two teammates, who are both any Olympic champions Jason Kenney and Philippines. And you know, although it’s a team event is quite easy to identify the weak link in the team, and it was nine times out of 10 me as a member of the member looking through the timesheet, and it gives you an update of where each team places based on when each leader finishes the effort. So it’d be like the first lap would be in first place. Philip Haynes gets us off to a world record setting pace. Jason Kenney takes over we’d be in second place or first place, Callum is going to take over his lap was the 10th quickest of the competition and overload that adds up to sixth place. And so the pressure was was huge and you talk about that that culture and that expectation of the team. You know, every single athlete the British cycling has fielded to an Olympic games since 2008. Bar one has come away with a metal of some colour and that’s that’s kind of All Blacks Manchester, United kind of territory for
For hit rate success rate, maybe even above when he just isolated two Olympic medals, so the pressure was huge.
Carlton Reid 12:08
Hmm. So let’s go on to that that all British final then you mentioned Jason Kenney there who are now racing against. Yeah. Now clearly, obviously, you know, Kenny, Jason, very, very well.
So what were you thinking on the start line? If you were thinking, yeah, had you written yourself off already? From what you just told me there, you know, you you, you obviously know the time gaps that you’re going to have. Had you do you think well, I can actually beat Jason?
Callum Skinner 12:38
Well, the good news is that a new suddenly phoned forum better than sixth place when it came to the team sprint and the Olympics because you know, we’ve we’ve set an Olympic record and and kind of got that gold medal and then the the individual splint you’re correct, followed, followed after that, and it was a British British fighter with Jace, and we actually had some fun with it.
Which sounds a bit weird at Olympic final but to be honest, I my sole and only focus was a team event and then by the time we got to the individual split and you know anything else was a bonus. But I’d actually come through the competition a lot stronger than than Jason Jason had had to take one of his eyes the best of fee because we take it to best to free once it gets to the quarters. So I kind of felt like the momentum was was was in my court. And where where it’s where it differs compared to normal competition is the spins held over three days. So we had to actually spend the night together before the Olympic final. And because we were roommates in the village
and that’s where we started to have some fun. So we treated himself to the village we treated him to the village McDonald’s and tried to play a bit of him for Yes, well, no, I had it too. So we thought it’s equal this is advantage.
And then I remember we were we were going to sleep the night before the Olympic final as a twin bedroom and we were we were next to each other
turned off the lights and went, Oh, good night Jason. And then I got myself prepared with this Death Stare looking straight out and then about, you know, 30 seconds later turned on the light again and went Sleep well.
But I mean, like we’re good mates like off the track and then when you know for me anyway, when that helmet comes on, that’s when it’s game time and you do literally anything you can to beat your opponent. Hmm. Was it easier or harder to be in a fight?
It’s always harder they sing a teammate, in my opinion, I think I think you have the benefit of the unknown when you’re releasing a fallen leader. You can you can quite easily compartmentalise what they might be good at. But when it becomes when when you’re facing a blitz, almost like too much information becomes becomes a bad thing.
So for instance, if you’re if you’re facing a foreigner you might think okay, his positions this and the team, he’s probably good at this. He’s probably good at that. And you
Try and make the same assumptions about a bit, but then you’ll start thinking of moments when they prove you wrong. And you’ll think, you know, is he is he a long sprinter? Or is he a short sprinter as he got the power as you know, as he got his head gonna fall off? Is it not? And you end up with too much information and you start questioning your strategy. And, you know, we’ve joked sometimes that like British Nationals can be harder than pretty much any other lease that we do, because it’s that issue, you know, too much information can be a bit of a hindrance in that instance. And one of the coaches say to you, how do they How do they handle, you know, an elaborately fine or what are they one of the coaches, and they just leave it to you just like, right, it’s up to you. Now, it’s, we can’t tell you anything, it’s our teammate. Well, that’s that’s the other kind of disadvantage and kind of bone of contention because they, they don’t give you anything. And they basically just kind of take you to the line and give you generic encouragement, like, come on. And in an event as tactical as the as the spin, like you kind of need a little bit more than that.
And even at the sidelines, they won’t be shouting cues. They won’t be shouting if if your opponent’s kind of exploiting you at some points, which we rely on quite heavily. And, and I guess that’s where, like, I didn’t feel it at the time, but on the flexion probably felt a little bit of a disadvantage, because, you know, Jason’s already been to two Olympic Games and picked up numerous Olympic medals.
And, you know, for the first time of my career, I was one of the first time but for one of the few occasions in my career was lacing with with new team support, basically, coaching support.
But it was an interesting dynamic, and it was a challenge I was happy to take on. I’ve not got any qualms about it. But it’s an interesting question, just to see how that all how that all pans out. I know a lot of people may be thinking that from the stands or from the TV. Mm
Carlton Reid 16:46
hmm. It’s not one of the team actually, psychologically. But otherwise, obviously, he just said the coaches are gonna walk away, aren’t they?
Callum Skinner 16:56
Yeah, and I think that’s probably the best, the best situation you know, I think
from their point of view, they have to kind of detach themselves a little bit from any kind of favourites they may have. And, you know, if they, you know, suggested or what is sometimes been called, like a disrespectful tactic, like going from the gun or trying to do a kid ology, and that ended up changing the result, then, you know, maybe it’s the, it’s for the best that they kind of keep their mouth shut and leave it to the leaders. I mean, they’ve done a lot of work up until that point. So you should be you should be well, fate Well, you know, in a good position to deal with it, but I’m not against the leader of the calibre of Jason Kenney. And they must be pretty made up anyway because they know you’re going to get guaranteed two medals here. So they’re, they’re kind of happy they’re almost who cares who wins? Yeah, I mean, their boxes ticked basically, you know, UK sport funds on medals, and they’ve, they’ve got to suffer the you know, and so they’re pretty satisfied. But you know, I’m sure I’m sure they don’t they probably have their their
suffered winners, which I which I’d love to know, but they’re far too professional at their jobs to say.
Carlton Reid 18:08
So you’ve got a gold.
You’ve got to feel about what’s what’s that? Tell the layman what it’s like, the lay person? what’s the what’s it like to at the time when when I met and now what’s it like now having that metal but did you die now and for the rest of your life? what’s the what’s, how does it change your life?
Callum Skinner 18:28
Now at the beginning, it’s it’s totally surreal and it’s almost like a mindset that I don’t know, I really struggled to describe and one that I don’t think I’ll ever kind of find again.
I think, you know, and without being insensitive, I think it’s probably a little bit like kind of having a man an episode of mania, an episode of kind of that manic phase where you feel invincible.
You know, any issue that gets chucked you away, you kind of shrug it off and go
I don’t care about Olympic champion because it’s been your sole like purpose for the last 10 years you know everything you’ve been doing from like diet to sleep to sacrificing social life like every part of your life has been consumed by this one project and you’ve got it
and what’s more of the way we did it, you know, to be underdogs, to beat the odds on favourites the key ways to do it with my best mates dealing with a pressure like you really feel untouchable.
And and that’s quite a nice feeling for a little while and and then I guess it kind of starts to disappear slowly you know, you come home and you realise you’ve still got bills to pay Olympic medals don’t pay them
when not directly anyway. And
and you realise that you know on the whole not not a great deal like fundamentally changes you know people listen to your opinion more people are a little bit more interested in can Highland use for corporate
events and sponsorships and stuff like that. But the fundamentals stay the same. And I think there’s a little bit I think a lot of Olympians face this where there’s a little bit of a kind of Saviour syndrome when it comes to an Olympic medal. It’s kind of like whatever issues that I’ve got going on in my life, it will be solved when I have that Olympic gold medal or Olympic medal. And that’s, that’s just not reality.
So, you know, so then you start to sink a little bit and, and for me, it ended up in a bit of a,
you know, in a clinical sense ended up being kind of depression with with anxiety as well, which kind of went on treated for a little while and then kind of ended up in my retirement. Now, I don’t want to kind of
dampen the sheen on that on that goal that still is, you know, as bright to me as it ever has been.
But I think I think there needs to be a little bit more preparation for success as well as failure. I think as athletes. We’re very
Preparing for possible failures but not so much. prepare them for success. Maybe that’s an ego thing. Maybe that’s a superstitious thing.
But yeah, absolutely love those kind of few weeks afterwards, you’re just partying constantly enjoying the experience feeling invincible, but it doesn’t last forever. Can the issues you had? Do you have had them any way? Or was it potentially something about cycling, potentially something about British cycling, potentially something about sport that maybe brought that out?
I think it’s I think it’s a mixture of all kind of theory and in a way, I think, you know, say for instance, if I go on and just want a silver
you know, I probably would have carried on and that Olympic distraction would take to win an Olympic gold that that drive would still be there, because that was my ultimate goal. But I think what that huge distraction did was massive.
A lot of the other things that were kind of unresolved in my life, I guess. And, you know, British cycling made a little bit more difficult than they could have when it was kind of trying to seek help just from one individual them, you know, still think really highly of the, of the system and the team. But it’s the way I was treated by by that one individual wasn’t wasn’t late. And yeah, and and led to some pretty substandard situations, I guess.
But no, I’d say it’s almost a bit like a kind of mourning process. I guess you have this 10 year focus, and in a way that that leaves you and that’s been the means in which you can sideline everything else that’s going on because you’re focused on this one. This one purpose, this one goal, winning Olympic gold, and then when you lose that you almost feel a little bit empty, I guess.
You kind of think well, what next go deal
And another one and what does that mean?
You know what? It’s difficult to come up with, with a kind of follow up purpose when you’ve been so focused on having all your eggs in one basket, I guess is what I’m trying to say. But thankfully, you kind of found some really amazing support and started on the road to recovery.
Carlton Reid 23:21
Do you think I mean this, the preconception here, but you can tell us if it’s true or not. The preconception is that cycling in mental health terms is normally ahead of the game. So you know, we obviously had the, you know, the aggregation of marginal gains on the performance side, but then you had, you know, psychologists,
one in particular, working with the team, and that that cemented in the public’s mind that, you know, cycling’s way of treating mental health and how to perform and how to
get over, you know, mental blocks and stuff is pretty good. Do you think so?
Callum Skinner 24:00
Cycling is still ahead of the curve always that is that, like, preconceptions not actually true. I think I presume the guy you’re referring to is Dr. Steve Peters. And when he was in, yeah, when when he was in the system, cycling was by far and away, like ahead of the curve. And, you know, he was the guy who kind of helped me
on my way to the cover the, you know, a lot, I have a great deal of admiration for them, and a lot of gratitude for the for the work that he’s done and my family too. But they were ahead of the curve in the sense that Steve wasn’t just a sports psychologist. In terms of sports, psychology, British cycling, and a lot of other systems are still bang on the money, there’s still going to be there to make sure that athletes can perform as best they can know where that lacks a little bit. And where Steve used to pick up the slack was if you had any other kind of mental issues, mental health issues or lifestyle issues or anything like
That, because I find myself a little bit kind of trapped when I was initially going through my diagnosis and treatment. And I found myself kind of trapped between sports psychology and general psychology, sports psychology was was helpful in terms of a few strategies to help me perform better but weren’t very good on the lifestyle fun. And then when I went for a general psychology, it was
it was kind of helpful from a lifestyle point of view, but then actually fully understands what the life of an athlete actually is. And when you break it down, it’s it can be quite unusual to compare to what a lot of people tend to experience. So one of the suggestions they make would be like, Oh, well, why can’t you just take, you know, leave for a couple months on sick? And I was like, Well, you know, we’re not employees. You know, I’d lose my place in the team. And what’s more, when I did when I would come back, I’d be, you know, maybe six months ahead of my team, behind my teammates. So the practicality
Have that was really tricky and that’s that’s why I ended up landing on Steve as someone who could help me because he understood how my mind works from a sports psychology point of view. And that was a really well trained, and but it was a total mess when I tried to apply that same psychology to lifestyle issues that were going on alongside and that’s where you bridge the gap to use that skill set of being a forensic psycho psychiatrist.
As a general psychiatrist, you know, he’s also been like a doctor and a whole bunch of other stuff as well, but he’s one of the most educated men I’ve ever met in my life but he was amazing at bridging the gap he understood the unique challenges that that athletes face. And also he had the perfect toolkit in which to help me get better which had been established in sport from from years before.
Carlton Reid 26:50
So another preconception that that people have got about cycling I know you are involved in in this in some way and that’s that’s that’s doping and anti doping.
So you’re involved in the anti doping side, I had to correct myself maybe five.
So you can go to the anti doping side. But the preconception from from people is that Cycling is a sport intimately for very well known reasons intimately connected with,
with doping. So do you think we’ll ever get the mainstream world to believe that Cycling is a clean sport?
Callum Skinner 27:31
I tell you, when when I first began as a cyclist, you know, especially given the history of cycling, you know, it was really steadfast and saying, like, you know, that’s, that’s not going to be me. And, you know, whatever I’m going to do, I’m going to do it by the book. And basically, if I can do anything to try and improve cycling lactation, then then that’s a good day.
But guess where it starts to get a little bit better
heartening as sometimes, if you’re on the British cycling team, especially with some of the recent stories that have come out, you can start to become almost a little bit guilty by association. So we’ve seen the controversies that have come along from, you know, Chris Froome Lizzie Armstead, no Dana and Dr. Richard Freeman, one of the explorers have gotten which one off the top of my head and and then you know, all of a sudden I’m sitting down watching
Have I got news for you and they make a they make a jibe about how all all the British cyclists are doping and, and stuff like that makes me quite upset to be honest. I think, you know, I pride myself on on my integrity and and wanting to do better by the sport as much as I can. But I wouldn’t see where we’re anywhere near kind of a new either of cycling from a public perception point of view. I think there’s a lot of things that have been done really well. But the main reason why I decided to get into the anti doping
Kind of campaigner world was the, my medical records were, were hacked by a Russian state sponsored hacking group called fancy bears, after the 2016 Olympic Games and the the published two TVs that I had, which were both for asthma medication. And, you know, my response was to publish my NHS medical records from when I was younger, showing that both these medications have been described then as a legitimate form of treatment by by an organisation that has no interest at all in, in performance enhancement.
But that’s kind of that was the catalyst I guess, you know, I was getting a little bit fed up of people always noting cyclists or people doting, the anti doping system, and whether that’s letting down clean athletes like myself by leaking information
or by the anti doping authorities failing to go after
orphan drug treats. It was a whole mixture of things. But you know, I just feel like it’s something I always the sport, it’s something that needs to be better. And if there’s a kid that can come through, after me who isn’t guilty by association or isn’t tarred with the same brush, then we’re going to be in a much better place.
Carlton Reid 30:16
Hmm. That you’re retired. Now, which which you’ve you’ve touched on it, you’ve got your own podcast. Yes. So your own microphone set up there, which is great. So you’ve got pod crash, which is you, you and Phil, your your former teammates.
You bring on guests and you talk to them. And then I noticed one of your recent guests was
with somebody who’s doing a PhD on how athletes cope with retirement. So how are you coping? And I’m not talking about COVID-19 here and you know, how you’re coping
with with what we’re all going through, but how you just coping with with retirement in general ignored.
Callum Skinner 31:02
Well, it’s good. You added in that caveat, because since COVID-19, everything’s dropped off a cliff. But
what I will say is, it’s been really exciting, I’d say. I’d say British cycling when I was younger did an excellent job of finding a really driven, motivated kids who just had too much on. And one of the first things he did when they brought me down to Manchester was get me in nailed in on that single focus, which is winning Olympic gold. But since the time and what I’ve managed to do is kind of broaden that out a bit more and kind of start saying yes to opportunities whenever the allies and it’s led. This led to some absolutely amazing experiences, like you know, I’ve delivered a speech at the White House on anti doping.
You know, I’ve been part of a nationwide campaign for sports direct in terms of managing it from behind the scenes.
You know, doing I’ve got two new upstarts online
Go one’s called Five Rings coffee and one’s called Hindsight vision. And so, you know, I’m basically kind of just casting that net wage from being, you know, an entrepreneur to communications to marketing to anything and I find it so gratifying to,
to have that that variety, you know, the life of a sprinter is fairly,
you know, very, it’s really quite simple. You’re kind of based in Manchester a lot of the year you maybe have, you know, five, six releases a year, something like that, and and it can seem quite monotonous. So to bring back that variety and bring back that kind of teenage, scattered but driven approach is really interesting. And I guess the next step for me is to try and narrow that down and find that find that next Olympics, I guess, but it’s, it’s been an incredibly exciting and gratifying time, especially when you find an employer or a contractor who who sees the value that you can bring to that organisation through your athletic experience.
So you mentioned next Olympics there, but that was like an Olympics kind of goal. I’m assuming that you’re talking about Yeah.
Carlton Reid 33:06
Yeah, the next Olympics genuinely an excellent big and this is this can now segue back into COVID-19
is cancelled in effects or delayed by a year. So people like Phil, other I’m sure you’re you’re in touch with other
athletes not just even cycling athletes, their their life is turned upside down now because that their goal of going to Tokyo is now well pretty much evaporated. So how do you think people that you know, how do you think they’re coping?
Callum Skinner 33:44
I think it’s I think it’s varied across the spectrum. And I really feel for for all the athletes out there, because, you know, we’re starting to see quite a few concerns being raised from a whole range of spectrums, you know, we’re looking
It can have physical health because these guys are still pushing themselves as hard and training but don’t have any kind of physiotherapy or medical support and mental health. Because you know, most these guys are used to being part of a team and they’ve lost that, that data in the summer, which was going to be the highlight of their career. So it’s, it’s a really challenging time for a lot of these athletes. And then we still have the uncertainty that the organising committee have said that the Olympics won’t be postponed again, which is basically codeword for, you know, if we do have to, if we do have to stop it, because of COVID-19, it’s likely to be cancelled. And so it’s, it’s a tough time. And, you know, I’m not saying that, you know, pro athletes because I appreciate that. A lot of people are suffering from the COVID-19 situation, you know, far worse than than they ever could be. But what I am saying is just to appreciate, you know, the level of stress a lot of these athletes have under and extending an event like the Olympics by a year.
You know, maybe
might seem like something that most athletes can take on the chin, but it’s especially for the more niche disciplines the more niche sports it’s, it’s going to be a big struggle to keep on pushing. Because as we were talking about before you kind of you prepare for an event and and and if you’re not literally on a four year cycle in advance think it’s goals eat Yeah. Yeah and I think it’s something that maybe there’s a little bit of misunderstanding with the public because I remember when I was getting ready for real, you know, maybe a few months out or something like that people will have said, you know, oh, you must be training really hard No, then because the Olympics is just around the corner. And, you know, politely I’m kind of saying no, this has been like a 10 year project. This has been you know, 10 years of like blood sweat and tears for what’s essentially going to end up being a 44 seconds on the track 44 second effort on the track.
So, you know, the the level of dedication and focus doesn’t, you know, doesn’t ebb and flow
As much as people think just because the Olympics is coming along it’s for a lot of people that can be a
life a life goal.
Carlton Reid 36:09
Talk about other life goals or other life skills.
How big a part does cycling play in your life? So I’m not talking about going faster. ran around in a circle I’m talking about do you use cycling for everyday transport?
Callum Skinner 36:26
Yeah, no, of course I do. And I think that’s been one of the real positive elements of of my recovery, I think, you know, obviously the Olympics I was put up you know, in love with the sport of cycling and before that as well, and then it kind of started to fall over over cycling. And luckily kind of through my kind of rehab of a phone that kind of childhood love again, and and you know, I’ve got a really kind of beat up old pop bike, I call it which I just go and pop it in the neighbourhood on. I’ve started crashing a bit more, which is unfortunate. And, you know, I’d say
In the last kind of 10 years I’ve had three crashes but in the last nine months I’ve had two of those the so I think that’s maybe just a symptom of the time and you start to over anticipate you know how good you were.
Carlton Reid 37:13
But no I still I still love it a bit of a giveaway there you like coming back from the pub and crashing when are you? No no, no, no, no.
Callum Skinner 37:23
No when I’ve crashed have been fooled like that up and expecting to do a couple of hours on the road. All right, okay. Yeah, there’s been no there’s been no drinking and cycling on my watch.
Carlton Reid 37:34
As a good anti dope should be if you should just like your body should be a temple, shouldn’t it?
Callum Skinner 37:39
Yeah, and I love I love the freedom of it. And that’s something I found again, you know, it’s you know, beforehand, British cycling can measure you know, 20 different metrics that will measure specific things 1000 times a second. So there’s no hiding at all. But you know, quite often I find myself going out without a psycho computer without any kind of good idea about how
longer want to be in a boat for what direction or want to go in? It’s just freedom. And that’s that’s that’s to me is kind of what Cycling is all about. It’s about getting out there and exploring and having that headspace and I’m just so fortunate that I found it again.
Carlton Reid 38:16
And you mentioned hindsight, a few minutes ago and I actually got an email about this
this morning, so I’m clearly on your mailing list.
So So tell us what hindsight is and how you you got in touch with with physicist Alex MacDonald.
Callum Skinner 38:36
Yeah, so me and Alex were were friends at school, and then we we lost touch and then we kind of found our paths crossing again. You know, he came up with this concept of, which I think is a fantastic idea, which is a pair of sunglasses which have semi transparent angled lenses at the sides. And that basically allows you to extend your periphery to what’s going on. Hi
and if you really focus you can leave stuff like number plates of people that are coming up behind you or more importantly, if the driver is on their phone, or whether you can make that all important eye contact to make sure that they’ve seen you. And as a as a cyclist that’s had the odd tussle with traffic in the past. It just seems like this was an instance where information was going to be power. And so I’m more than happy to, to kind of lend my name to and be part of the project is going to be really exciting and I hope it makes a big change to a lot of cyclists out there. Whether you’re commuting, competitive, or hobbyist, you know, whatever I think I think having that extra awareness is going to be key and the best bit is it doesn’t it doesn’t look like a safety feature. You know, a lot of cyclists are quite can be quite snobby about high vis vests and putting mirrors on the handlebars. And what we’ve got is a really simple product which, which hopefully makes you safe out in the woods
Carlton Reid 39:57
and it’s quite an analogue product in that you
There are products out there, there’s an Israeli pair of sunglasses with basically a camera in. And that relates to, like, you know, a head up display. And when I when this person is came through I’m looking for where’s the where’s the batteries where I can’t see the camera where it’s like, hang on, no, it’s it’s genuinely
in in integral to the product it’s not no camera involved here it’s literally smoke and mirrors in that it’s a smoke with a kind of a
Callum Skinner 40:30
sort of mirrors and it’s just it’s just the surface is reflective. Yes, slightly slightly reflective so it doesn’t impede your forward vision but um, you know, I just see like, sometimes the simplest solutions are the best and
you know, there’ll be a lot of cyclists or athletes or anyone out there who, who love batteries and faff, and all that kind of stuff. So we think we’ve kind of delivered what’s actually a better product and that performs. You know, there was fun
Far more simply, and in a way kind of analogue is is a pretty beautiful solution for this problem. Hmm. And that launches so in effect when I got the email today, so it’s basically launching on Kickstarter now. Yeah, so we’ve been quite fortunate with some capital investment from various different bodies. And now we’re looking to take it to the next level with Kickstarter. So if you go to our website, which is hindsight dot store, and we’ll also an Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, you’ll find a link to the Kickstarter page from there and we’d really appreciate appreciate your listening support.
Carlton Reid 41:35
At How about your future? So you mentioned a coffee brand there as well. What what’s Callum Skinner doing now? What are you actually physically doing to to pay for food?
Callum Skinner 41:51
And I think you know, everyone would love to get to know the answer to this, but I’m kind of just embracing the chaos having been so focused on one project for a long time.
And I’m quite fortunate to be doing some work for Morgan Stanley at the moment, as well as having some ongoing projects with sports direct from a marketing capacity. I’ve done some stuff with science and sport as well. And that’s the kind of day to day stuff that that pays the bills. But, you know, I’m really enjoying that challenge of being kind of behind the camera, I guess.
Having been on the other side, I really feel like I can get the best out of athletes for kind of various campaigns and all that kind of thing. So I’ve been really enjoying it. And thankfully, the money’s not dried up yet so should be fine on food for the near future.
Carlton Reid 42:39
Thanks to Callum Skinner there. Links to his social media and to his sunglasses and coffee brands can be found on the show notes at the hyphen spokesmen.com I’m hoping to bring you the next show — minus Chris Boardman — within the next few days, Meanwhile, get out there .