As the latest wave of Lothians-based cycling stars gear up to challenge for honours in Glasgow later this month, one Capital rider has been reminiscing the day he earned his place in the history books.
It is more than four decades since trailblazing Brian Temple became the first Scot to earn a Commonwealth Games medal when he clinched silver in the scratch race at the Meadowbank Velodrome in 1970.
Today’s cyclists are largely full-time athletes, enjoying the benefits of foreign training camps, and sponsorship deals. That is in sharp contrast to the experience of Temple. A bookbinder by trade, he fitted training around his work and family commitments.
Having first competed as a 16-year-old, he flourished on the roads. Initially, he targeted a place in that discipline but it was as a member of the track team that he earned selection. That created a new barrier – the need for a track bike.
The resourceful Temple found a solution to the problem. Prizes he collected on the roads took the form of household items. He agreed with race organisers that the value of those goods could be channelled back to the cycling shop in Glasgow that allowed him to use the cash value to pay off the £120 cost of his track bike. And he was helped when his wife Margaret, herself a cyclist, sold her bike to support him.
Recalling his selection, Temple said: “The build-up for me started on November 3, 1969, when I received official notification that I had been shortlisted to train as a squad member.”
That list featured the names of 17 riders competing for ten places, subject to achieving the qualifying standard. The chase for the requisite time meant Temple competed in a string of events south of the Border. However, he was unable to achieve the elusive clocking on his travels.
Then, with the Games just two months away, he secured his place.
“I didn’t get the qualifying time until I was competing on the new velodrome at Meadowbank in the East of Scotland Open Championship,” he recalls. “Not only did I qualify, but I recorded what, at that time, was the fastest in the UK for the 4000 metres pursuit.”
Despite having timed his preparations perfectly, he was unable to replicate that form on race day and exited the competition in the first round.
Fortunately for Temple, a second opportunity presented itself.
“It was suggested that I could be entered for the ten-mile scratch race later in the week,” he adds.
A massive entry of 40 riders meant heats were required, with the final being contested later the same day. The timing proved controversial as Temple explained. “I was in the second heat which was run some time after the first one. The first ten from each heat went through to the final and I made it.
“The track committee had ruled that the final had to be that day, much to my annoyance as the riders in the first heat had a much longer recovery.”
Temple recalls the race, saying: “There was a crash shortly after the start. I was near the front of the group, leaving two riders on the ground and myself out front along with two others. I believe the crash happened on the 14th of the 64 laps, leaving the three of us to press on without being caught.”
Temple was joined in that leading trio by the Canadian Jocelyn Lovell and Vernon Stauble of Trinidad.
“I was extremely tired going into the final two laps so I went to the front and rode as hard as I could.”
But, in a tight finish, with a mere second covering all three medallists, Lovell pipped his Scottish rival to the gold medal.
Now aged 74, Temple still saddles up and is a regular at spin classes. He will be supporting the Scots in action this month and should any of the home riders join him on the medal roll of honour, he knows their passage to success has been easier than his own 44 years ago.