James McCallum: Famous Last Words
The new Rapha-Condor-Sharp signing tells us all about about getting better at winning -and becoming a better loser!
My first bike was a Giant - it had a steel frame and I bought it up in Glasgow when I was about 12.
My proudest moment so far was at the Commonwealth Games in 2006, where I won a medal for Scotland. You don't get to represent your country very often, especially at that kind of level, so it felt absolutely brilliant to win a medal.
I've no plans to stop as yet.
I've spent many nights in hospital; I worked nights as a nurse for Bupa for four or five years. I lived in Glasgow, but worked in Edinburgh so I used to cycle the 60km commute. There were some pretty rough days, especially when there was a block headwind and I had a heavy rucksack on my back, it could take over three hours to get to work - it was absolute purgatory!
Working in the hospital helped me put things in perspective; cycling becomes its own little world where you're often trying so hard to train and everything's against you. In the hospital, though, you see people at death's door, people who are really, really ill. It's very grounding.
Before racing I always listen to Smack My Bitch Up by The Prodigy, It's a really rousing song that always gets me in the right mood.
My ideal night out would just be with my family and friends, relaxing and not talking about cycling. It's quite nice to sometimes step away from it all and feel like a normal person.
I used to be a really bad loser. I'm a lot better now - the thing about cycling is that it's not a winning sport. I was really bad as a junior. When I lost, I used to shout and swear my head off at people for no reason at all, but I've grown up. I'm completely different now.
I recently read a book about Laurent Fignon. I thought he was special. He was a very articulate guy who went through a lot in life. His approach to the sport was quite a romantic notion, as he enjoyed doing it so much. Also he really was the undisputed boss of the peloton.
My best friend in the sport is Evan Oliphant from Endura. We're great mates, we train together all the time and go out together as well, despite the fact we hated each other when we first met! I've spent more time with him in the last few years than I've spent with my wife!
If I could meet anyone, dead or alive, it would be a friend of mine who was killed a couple of years ago: Jason McIntyre. He's been a great loss to cycling, and he left behind a pair of girls and a beautiful wife and he's still greatly missed by many of us.
This article originally appeared in the February 10 2011 issue of Cycling Weekly