Posted by matt February 7th, 2007
Do you realise it’s 10 years since you moved to Preston?
Yes, I feel old now!
That also means I’ve known you for 10 years too, isn’t that scary?
It’s pretty scary, especially when you think of how little we’ve changed (well, how little I have anyway): I still play out on bikes just like we used to, I just go a little further now!
Ok, time for something people might want to read… How did you get started in Mountain Biking?
A friend of a friend back in 1994 suggested a few of us give it a go, as we all had “catalogue special” mtbs and thought we were cool with them. On the first ride I did I beat another lad, who continually talked about how fit he was, up a big hill…and it kind of took off from that win
What bikes have you owned during your career?
Jeeeeez this could take a while
- Townsend “Catalogue Special”
- Giant Stonebreaker
- Marin Palisades Trail
- Specialized S-Works Hartail
- GT LTS 2000
- Coyote Full Suss Thing
- GT LTS 2000 (Reborn After I Bent It)
- Specialized Fsr Ground Control
- Azonic Ds1 Singlespeed (Yes! I Had A Singlespeed!)
- Cannondale F400 (Upgraded Beyond Recognition)
- Santa Cruz Bullit
- And Now Brant‘s On-One Scandal
- (You Missed The Road Bike – ed)
Ah the Specialized S-Works, I still shudder when I think of your accident on that.
I now have a hard time finding glasses that will sit properly on my seriously crooked nose and a harder time breathing through it! Still the week of being doped up in bed was quite nice. (as I recall some of the nurses were pretty too – ed)
Which has been your favourite.
Of all time, so far, i’d have to say the cannondale, just because of the places i’ve been on it and the events I ‘ve done on it. It was the bike I realised I could do well (in a national sense) racing on
When did you start racing?
Racing seriously? that would be 2005 when I did the transalp with rich and did well at the leisure lakes xc races. I did my first race in 1995, it was a NEMBA thing in north wales, I have no idea how I did in it, I just remember a climb that went on for hours, that I had to stop halfway up on!
Now, some people would say that having an office job is ideal for a racer as you can store all your energy for training rides and effectively rest when you’re sat infront of the computer, is this how you see it?
Nothing builds up your desire to ride bikes like being stuck in an office all day! It’s not the perfect solution as all your riding from November to March is done in total darkness, which can be a bit depressing but as you say, you can save a lot of energy sat down for 8hrs a day!
You scored a surprise second in the Strathpuffer a few weeks back, how did you find the race?
Wet, cold, technical, fun! I knew I wasn’t in any real shape to “race” for 24hrs, so I decided to treat it as training. I gave up for 4hrs when I ran out of brake pads and couldn’t hold onto the bars due to the grips slipping off the bars continually but decided to get back on as I could still ride uphill without any problem and quite a few people were having the same problems. I had no idea i’d got anywhere near a top place at the end, in fact the only reason I was at the prizegiving was because I happened to be walking past on my way to the food tent!
And the new bike? how did you find the transition to rigid forks and 29inch wheels?
I didn’t notice the lack of suspension as the bike just rolled over the bumps rather than getting bounced around by them like the cannondale would have done. In fact the strathpuffer was the first 24hr solo race i’ve done where my hands and wrists weren’t a wreck at the end, despite the course being much more technical and rock based. The 29er wheels seemed to allow for more grip from the tyres which mean I could run quite a low profile tread without losing traction and kept their speed much better than the superlight 26 inch ones I ‘d raced on previously. they did need a bit of “re-learning” to get the bike through the more twisty-turny sections, but that didn’t seem to take too long.
What lessons did you learn from the experience?
Just Get On With It, even if you feel like it’s all going wrong and that i’ve got the capabuility to go faster and for longer than I think I have.
What are your targets for 2007?
I’ll be focussing on 24hr solo racing mostly, I want to “win” CLIC24 – and get more laps in than I did last year, be well inside the top ten (or podium if I can) at SSMM, podium at SITS, top ten at bontrager 24/12 and get a “gold” time at the 3 Peaks CX race.
CLIC, SSMM and SITS, the three I did last year
i’ve got something to improve on withthose racesPlus have fun, “make the most of summer” and get some seriously big rides done
That’s quite a lot of racing, but your doing even more aren’t oyu?
Ah yes, there’s also the Enduro 6+ and a few little xc races and some of the merida marathons at the mo. I might do other events if they sound good/fit in
As a “proper” bike rider (not a sponsored pro) do you find it hard to fit in all your training around work and other important things like The Simpsons and your girlfriend?
I guess i’m lucky really, I get lots of holidays and work on flexi-time which helps me get the hours in and my GF is quite understanding (well, more “accepting” than understanding) about me getting home late and being a wreck on the couch for the rest of the night. It’s still not eay to drag yourself out for a 4hr ride after work in the dark when it’s raining andit’s been a long day in the office, but if you want to do well you’ve no option…it’s all riding bikes so it’s never awful!
How many hours on the bike do you put in on average per week?
Anywhere from 8 to 20 depending on what sort of training period i’m in
Training in the dark winter evenings must make you good at night riding, but don’t you feel you’re forever riding into a small pool of light and some scenery would be nice?
Yes! I spend much of summer training hard with my head down and then when it comes to base training all the scenery i’ve been missing is hidden! I always try to get at least one ride a week in where I can just ride to enjoy it without any training pressure, to look at the scenery/get lost somewhere new.
Taking your experience from last year’s major races (SITS, SSMM) what weaknesses do you see in your opponents that you could exploit to gain places at the finish line?
At SSMM to be honest there wan’t much of a chink in the top guys armour, I think the winner had 30mins off the bike in the whole 24hrs and was lapping at the same speed as some of the to sports class teams. At that level it’s not so much about their weaknesses, it’s completely down to wether you can go “all out” for the full race and have enough support to remain totally focused. At SITS I was helped by a mixture of other people’s unpreparedness for the conditions equipment wise and some people’s lack of will power when it started to get really tough
What do you think of when you’re riding around the same course for 24 hours?
What part of the course is coming up that I like, how i’m feeling, how i’m doing with food and drink, how people i’m racing against are doing, how my strategy is going and if it needs changing…that sort of thing. There’s always something
Don’t all the other racers annoy you, as the majorty of them are free to blast around the course safe in the knowledge that they have a few hours before the next lap?
Not really, we’re all there to race our own races. As long as everyone uses common sense and a bit of manners there’s no real reason for problems.
Which has been your favorite race so far?
Probably CLIC24, I was still looking forward to each lap after 20 of them as the course was such fun, but they’ve all had their good points
With all these races under your belt and the experience they’ve brought you, do you feel you’re better prepared for the season than you have been in previous years?
Definately, 24hr racing is as much mental as it is physical and experience counts for a hell of a lot. Not just during the race but when you’re training for it as well if you know what your up against and how you’ll feel you can better prepare for it.
Thanks, Dave, Can you think of any other questions?
*nope* I have to go ride now…