The three lads from the north who are in the Scotland Cycling Talent Team, Magnus, Marc and Kenta - with Scotland Cycling Coach Gary Willis.
I blogged this photo back in November, but since then its been used in the Inverness Courier and the Press and Journal.
Magnus is also profiled on the front page of the Scottish Cycling website this week.:-
Here is what they say:-
"Magnus Davidson talks about life in one of Scotland’s most picturesque areas, his love of cycling and his hopes for the future.
Dedication is a prerequisite for all cyclists, but in the case of Magnus Davidson, commitment to the sport goes way beyond just spending time in the saddle. The 15 year old lives in Cromarty, and that means all of his races involve a lengthy round trip.
He is fortunate to have a supportive father, who often doubles as a chauffeur for Magnus, who says, “A lot of the time Dad takes me to races, but I use the trains up and down to the central belt a lot which means I can go myself. These days I automatically fall asleep in between Perth and Inverness! The A9 can get mega boring.”
Nevertheless, Magnus insists that living so far off the beaten track has its compensations. “I’ve lived here all my life and it’s a beautiful place“, he adds. “It’s the end of the road so really quite and peaceful.”
In addition to having the essential backing of his family, he is well supported by the local community, particularly when it comes to his equipment, as he explains, saying, “My local bike shop Squarewheels Strathpeffer have a close relationship with the German bike company Cube Bikes. I ride for both. Cube help me with the bikes, Steve at Squarewheels helps with mechanics, shoes and other bits and bobs.”
He describes how he got started in cycling, saying, “A local guy in the town noticed me and a mate and liked our bikes. He took us out on a club mountain bike run and I have been going ever since.
“As I got better I decided I would follow in the footsteps of one or two of the older guys and start racing. The first race was round 1 of the 2004 SXC series and I came out hugely disappointed with something like sixth place. The next race I went to I prepared a bit more carefully and came out the winner.”
Magnus has just completed his third full season of competitive cycling. Having initially focused on mountain biking and cross racing, in 2006 he added road and track to his repertoire.
That spread provided him with a list of enjoyable moments in the season just gone, as he underlines when he says, “Racing in Belgium thanks to the Braveheart Cycling Fund was really good. We learned a lot. Podium places on the road and track were fun, showing that mountain bikers can really kick ass. The track was quite hard though as I hadn’t raced on it before. Luckily I had friends who literally told me ‘go on the track and ride round a couple of times then when the whistle blows go as fast as you can for half a lap’.”
On top of that, there was a gold at the Scottish Cyclo-cross Championships that means he now has the full set of medals and, in addition, he also raced with some success at national level.
However, the pinnacle for Magnus was not a specific result but the feeling of satisfaction he derived from competing to the best of his ability. “Being up there racing with the best certainly is fun, but the highlight of the season has been those few special races where everything just goes right. Stepping off the bike at the end of these races this year has been really great“
Now, though, it is time to look ahead. He will interrupt a heavy winter training schedule to compete at the cross nationals in January. In addition to the long hours on the bike and in the gym, he is currently working with specialists at the Highland Institute of Sport to clear up a back problem.
He outlines his training schedule, saying, “Depending on the time of year I can go from three or four days a week right up to six. I have always kept Fridays as a rest day though so I can switch from my school and training head to my going away and racing head. My school is really good with the cycling. They let me have time off when I need it but they make sure I catch up.”
Training is usually done on the roads around the Black Isle, with fellow talent team member Mark Sinclair. “I know the roads off by heart now“, says Magnus. “We also head towards Dingwall or Strathpeffer and stop in at Squarewheels while we’re at it for a chat and food.
“On the mountain bikes I spend time up at the new Learnie Red Rock trails. These are the trails I learnt to ride on and I still continue to learn on them. The name suits them well. I have to travel the half hour or so journey to Inverness for the gym on a Tuesday and Thursday.”
It’s little wonder that Magnus has a fairly limited amount of time to spend with friends, although he manages to squeeze in the odd cinema trip or meal out with his mates.
His cycling inspirations include many of the riders on the World Cup mountain bike scene, road star Tom Boonen and Lance Armstrong, whom Magnus regards as a sporting legend and has aspirations to follow in their wheel tracks over the longer term.
He has clearly defined targets for the coming year and beyond. “I want to come to the end of next season with many National Wins, a place on the mountain bike ODP and with the British Mountain bike championship jersey“, he says.
And ten years from now, where does he expect to be? “Winning world champion jerseys, Olympic medals, Commonwealth medals and lots of big races. I want to the best cyclist in the world.”
Succeeding will call for talent, hard work and above all, dedication. Magnus has already shown he has those attributes in spades and, if he continues with his current rate of progress, look out for Magnus Davidson who is well on the way to becoming a star of Scottish cycling."
Students - they will pose for anything if you offer them beer....
Inspired by the moving portrait series at the MIT Media Lab.
It is not a perfect series of snaps - the sizing is out on a couple, but as I took this whole series in less than 2 mins as he was walking out the sitting room I'm pretty pleased.
From above Findon, Culbokie.
This was taken last Sunday, on a cold and frosty trip to the Bike Trails at Contin - scene of the upcoming Strathpuffer 24 hour endurance race.
I drove this way this morning, on a warm and gray day, to do the annual Christmas shop in Dingwall, thinking I would beat the Weekend Rush by being at Tesco's at 9:00 on the Friday Morning.
Unfortunately almost everyone else has the same bright idea.....
Snapped on the Lochaline ferry to Mull a couple of weekends ago. Looks like it could be shot from an aircraft, and the only bit of clear sky in an otherwise miserable wet day.
I spent 20 mins chatting to Peter Ross, the Sunday Herald Journalist who is doing the feature on the Flickr-Scotland Blog (now to be published on the 14th January) this afternoon. After we finished he called me back to say that he particularly liked this shot.
Which was nice.
This snap was taken almost two years ago, on a trip to SAMS at Dunstaffnage, just north of Oban. I seem to remember that it was the very first time that I had stopped the car to take a photo, simply because I thought there was a good photo to be taken.
I'd been on flickr for about six weeks I seem to recall....
I've been up an down Loch Ness side a lot this week, which explains the lack of postings. Last weekend in Mull - yep Magnus cycling - and then a trip to Drumnadrochit, and an overnight stay - during the week (in a very nice, but very basic "Highland" Hotel - great food, great hospitality, but rooms that reminded me of staying with my Aunt in Caithness 30 years ago).
Driving past the Loch Ness Monster exhibition, and their large model of a plesiosaur, aka Nessie, reminded me of recent article in New Scientist (a magazine which I enjoy reading immensely) where an earnest scientist had analysed the neck bones of the plesiosaur, and concluded that it had evolved for bottom feeding, and could only flex downwards, therefore it was impossible for the Loch Ness Monster to be a plesiosaur, as it could not swim with its head in the famous "swan" position.
A week later there was a letter asking if the researcher had considered that Nessie was simply swimming on her back.....
New Scientist readers - brilliant!