Iain Paton is a mountain biker who can usually be found riding round the trails in the peak district – originally from Golspie, Iain has been living near Manchester since 2014 as part of British Cycling’s Senior Academy Programme.

We were lucky enough to take him away from his weekly schedule for half an hour to find out what life is like for a mountain biker in the programme.

“On a Monday we have a split training day, starting off with a road ride in the morning and then a very physical gym session in the afternoon. It takes a good 24 hours for your body to adapt to the stuff we do in the gym so that is why we always have a rest day after a split training day. The gym sessions are relatively new to us, and it is likely our schedules will change again when the better weather comes. They are tough and you can really feel it.”

But can someone as cycling mad as Iain really take a rest day?

“You can feel it in your legs when you wake up on a rest day so it isn’t too difficult not to jump on your bike – however, I do often find myself tinkering about with it so it is never bike free! I live with three mountain bikers, Mark McGuire is one of them, so we quite like going to cinema or going to a café to chill out on our rest days.”

...and with a birthday coming up?

“I turn 21 at the end of the month, although we are going to a training camp in Wales just before it, so I don’t think I will be in a state to have wild celebrations – a quiet one for me!”

He rides alongside the elite in Manchester, studied Astrophysics at Edinburgh University, but home is never forgotten.

“I started cycling because my parents did a lot of touring on their bikes, but living in Golspie, it was the mountain bike trails that caught my attention and where I spent most of my time. They built loads of trails near me when I was growing up, and I would still say they are the best trails around. As a youngster I got involved in going to RSRs where Scottish Cycling’s Bob MacFarlane and Paul Newnham suggested I started racing in the Scottish rounds, I came fourth in the under 16s! Scotland has always had lots of support for youngsters who want to get involved in cycling and there are always loads of opportunities – I was always keen so the coaches were naturally just as keen to help me develop.”

Iain raced with Team Wiggins last year and spent some of his time riding on the road although plans to focus more on mountain bike this year.

“It was great to ride with Team Wiggins, I hadn’t done much road racing before that so found it challenging riding in a bunch to start with, the guys in the team are all great and the dynamic in the team is completely different to a team of mountain bikers! This year I am really going to focus on mountain biking, hopefully go to the world cups and get as high a place in the rankings as possible – I also want to defend my british title!”

He secured the Under 23 British XC Champion title last year and also won the Under-23 British Cyclocross Championships at the beginning of this year.

“To finally win a british championship was amazing; I had come so close in the past so to win a jersey felt good. Winning the cyclocross was a surprise more than anything else – I had only ever really ridden cyclocross for training or a bit of fun. My inspirations in cycling would be Nino Schurter – he is great to watch with great technical skill and is an all-round great athlete.”

The Olympics may not be an aim for Iain this year but they are certainly not far from his mind.

“In Manchester there is definitely a lot of excitement around Rio coming up, a focused excitement though as training ramps up. It is cool to know that I am surrounded by people aiming for the biggest competition – it would be silly if it wasn’t an aim for myself in the future. However the Commonwealth Games are not too far away either, so I need to make sure I am focussed on them too!”

Iain Paton’s weekly training schedule:


AM – Road ride

PM – Gym session


Rest Day


Mountain Bike ride (3-4 hours)


AM – Road ride

PM – Gym session


Rest Day


Mountain Bike ride (efforts)


Road ride (4 hours)

You can follow Iain's journey by keeping an eye on his rider profile here.