Bike: Specialized Allez
Where: Poole, Dorset
Cycling status: Returning rider
I used to ride a lot with my dad when I was younger, mainly doing cross-country mountain biking, then I got older and found other interests. But I’ve just finished studying sports coaching at university and decided I wanted to get back into cycling and try road riding.
My dad says I’ve got some ability on the bike so I thought I’d give it a go again, and watching the Tour de France this year has spurred me on even more. I go out on the bike now more than I ever have done. Before this year’s Tour I wasn’t really doing much at all.
I only bought my road bike in March, and I only pottered around on that a little bit, doing 30-mile rides at most, and that was just on the flat down in Poole. Then the Tour came along and all of a sudden I found myself going further and further.
I work in a bar at the moment so it’s not ideal for cycling, but I tend to do two reasonable rides a week and also the occasional quick jaunt down to the beach, so two or three rides a week on average. The ride to the beach is flat and that’s only 30 miles but I go hard, and my other rides are around 70 miles long. I rode from Poole to Weymouth, via Corfe Castle and Swanage and back over the chain ferry recently – it’s a great place to cycle.
So now I’m looking to lengthen my rides. I ate quite a lot of takeaway pizzas and drank quite a lot at uni so I’ve got a little bit of a belly, which I’m also trying to lose, but the distances are slowly getting longer. I can certainly feel it afterwards when I do 70 miles, but I still want to go further, though – ride distances into three figures would be good.
I’m going to Thailand in November to do Thai Boxing – that’s to get me in shape, strip the fat off me and help with discipline. I’ve also spoken with a personal trainer, so I’m doing a few gym sessions with him. Bike-wise, because I’m doing it all by myself, I’m piecing together my own plan, so it’s still a work in progress. I think the first thing for me is to get out more and more consistently. I’m also joining Poole Wheelers cycling club so hopefully I’ll get a few pointers off of them.
I’ve got a very definite long-term goal: in April 2014 I’m planning to cycle 5,300 miles across the America. I went to the States during the summer a couple of years back to do football coaching and I fell in love with the country. My grandfather passed away two years ago and left me some money so I decided I would use it for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
I figured that I love cycling and I love America so why not combine them both and go on a bit of a road trip?
Would I be even planning that kind of trip if Brad hadn’t won the Tour? I certainly wanted to do it but I don’t think I would be where I am now. I think seeing him riding so well gave me a bit more energy and focus to do it. In fact, I think the Tour came around at just the right time: I’d had the honeymoon period on the bike where I was feeling good, but then with work and everything I was getting a little despondent.
Watching the Tour de France, with Wiggins and Chris Froome doing what they did, made me think that I really should get back on the bike seriously. And as soon as they won that definitely did inspire me. But also my dad is quite a big player in it as well, because whenever I talked to him about cycling he would say: you need to get back on your bike because you’re a good cyclist.
So between him giving me a kick up the backside and the Tour, it really got me enthused again.
And dad has been inspired by Wiggo too – he’s grown an awesome pair of mutton chops.
Our verdict: Adam’s approach
Body: Adam has been sensible so far with his approach to cycling, following the tried and tested programme of simply getting miles in his legs, and the gradual lengthening of ride distances hasn’t caused him any physical problems. Gym work to build core strength, and seeking advice from old hands in a local bike club are wise moves too.
However, one area that it is worth paying attention to at this early stage is his bike fit. At 6’4 Adam is a little taller than most cyclists so getting a correct position in the saddle might take a little more tweaking. But if he does end up sitting in the saddle for 5,300 miles across America it’ll definitely be time worth investing.
The Lance Effect
There are precedents for the Wiggo Effect: in the last 20 years we have seen cycle use in Germany and the United States both flourish in the wake of Tour victories for Jan Ullrich and then Lance Armstrong respectively.
In the USA it took until Armstrong’s fourth Tour win (or not) in 2002 for USA Cycling – the national body for cycling in the United States – to see consistent growth among in its membership levels. Then, from 2002 to 2007 its membership increased 45 per cent, from 42,000 to 62,000.
Reassuringly, even during Armstrong’s first retirement those numbers didn’t drop off, suggesting that once people are used to riding their bikes, they stay on them.
In fact, there is a very definite element of self-perpetuation about the effect of sporting success. As more people take up cycling, so there are more possible champions of the future to inspire further generations.
In Britain cycling was already on an upward curve when Bradley Wiggins took the Tour title this summer, so just how much an effect his performance will have on overall cyclist numbers might be hard to quantify. But there’s little doubt it has inspired many.
Adam’s ride across America will be in aid of charity. To follow his progress go to twitter.com/adamonthehill88.
Pennington and Laurence Ellis: Box Hill habitués