When we first read the news that Katie Archibald’s World Champs ending bike crash had indeed been a motorbike crash, our fingers flew to the keyboard. And then they stopped, and decided (autonomously) to wait until we’d heard from the athlete herself. Finally, Katie has spoken.
We knew it was an interesting story, but we also knew sitting out of competition months before the Olympics would be pretty tough for Archibald without us publishing remarks that might add to the load. Question the journalistic spirit in that, maybe we’re a bit soft round the edges, but perhaps it’s why we don’t work for a national newspaper.
Comments published by the press focused on British Cycling coach Shane Sutton’s remarks that riding a motorbike in the wet so close to the Olympics was “crazy” and “a really bad choice on her part”. He went on to say: “It’s not for us to sit here and tell her she can’t ride a motorbike. They are grown ups. They have a life to live. And of course you could get hit by a car riding your bike. These things happen. But life is about choices. And the choices you make will govern your outcome. And she made a bad choice there. Inexperienced, raining, riding your motorbike… crazy.”
The disappointment sounds much like we might expect to hear in the voices of our parents in the event of our falling down the stairs when drunk, reversing into a bollard because we really had to park because we really had to pee – and other such shenanigans. People make mistakes, and we do sit on the ‘athletes do deserve a life outside of cycling’ side of the fence.
So, we waited until Archibald shared her own thoughts following the accident – which she finally did in her Herald Scotland column on Sunday.
Following a sloping interlude in which Archibald discusses the absurd tradition in which the entire population descends into London at the same hour every day (yep, we work from home and think it’s mental too..), she goes on to discuss the crash and the press reaction.
“After a big cup of coffee this morning, I’m feeling better about the guilt piled on by the press for my not riding.”
In her witty style, the 21-year-old tells us: “After a big cup of coffee this morning, I’m feeling better about the guilt piled on by the press for my not riding. You may have read online about how I rode my motorbike off a cliff, hand standing on the saddle, screaming “Death to British Cycling! Viva my ruin!” at 100mph.
“Just in case my grandmother is reading this, appalled, that was a bit of sarcasm. My crash was, of course, an accident. I’m just as bummed about it as you are. This experience has been my first of people actually going out of their way to say I’m a bad person. It has hurt, even though I’ve always suspected that might be the case.”
“I still feel sick in my stomach knowing I’ve hurt and disappointed people.”
Going on give her honest feelings, unmasked by humour, she adds: “I still feel sick in my stomach knowing I’ve hurt and disappointed people.”
Instead of riding, Archibald cheered on from the sidelines as the GB Team Pursuit squad took Bronze after a rocky qualification that saw Ciara Horne and Jo Rowsell Shand almost dropped.
Archibald is now off on a training camp, staying with her daughter-declared MAMIL father and mum who is “rumoured to have a deal with the dairy industry that means she constantly has to comment on how “you need your good fats”. This means adding cream to one’s cereal and cheese to everything else.”
With Rio creeping ever closer, Archibald’s number one concern is getting back on her bike. She says: “Once the squad gets back from the worlds and we’re all training together, things might possibly seem normal again. I look forward to it.”
We look forward to it, too.
After advice from Katie Archibald? Check out our interview with her, and her go-to turbo session.