Name: Alex – ‘The Bear’
Do you have a cycling name? If so, who gave it to you and why? In the words of Captain Ben, ‘He’s big, he puts up a mighty chase, and the girls would let him catch them up a hill’.
Age? The youngest member of the team. Generally show the ageing members how to do it, and provide endless ridicule whenever they are complaining of aching joints, and suggest we take a more sedate pace.
What do you do when you’re not riding a bike? I buy and sell that black smelly liquid known as oil. My cycling hobby is not helping the industry I work in.
What bicycles do you own and, importantly, why do you own them? My stallion is a Trek 4.5 Madonne, which I have owned since 2010, and bought it as I began to take cycling up as my main hobby. Usual story. I went into the shop with a modest budget intending to buy a nice aluminium framed bike, but came up against the ultimate sales person. ‘You could buy that, or…’ Needless to say I walked out with a full carbon framed bike, an empty bank account, and a huge smile on my face. My second bike AKA Donkey is a Trek 1.2 which I bought when I moved to London in Autumn 2010. After a year of cycling around with gears, I realised the error of my ways and converted it to a single speed for winter training. What a difference it makes. Cycling 60miles including Box Hill every Sunday through winter, and hundreds of Regents Park laps on a single speed builds a new level of strength into your legs. There is nowhere to hide. I just wish it were possible to go fixed with the existing frame.
What’s your cycling history? I bought a basic Carrera Halfords special road bike back in 2007, as someone at work suggested I try a charity duathlon involving a 13 mile run, and 26 mile bike ride. I quickly realised that I hate running, but love cycling. Sat around a campsite fire in Scotland in the summer of 2009 with a couple of mates drinking Ben Nevis Whiskey, someone suggested Lands End to John O’Groats. We had obviously had way to much to drink, but before we knew it, three non cyclists were committed. After a lot of training, and the purchase of the Madonne, we did the ride in August 2010. It took 12 days to cover around 1050 miles. A fantastic experience, but very hard work. I soon after moved to London, and had to learn to negotiate the capital’s road network. Regents Park presented the best training option, and not long after I found the Baroudeurs and have not looked back since. The next goal is to start racing!
What have been your favourite and worst moments on a bicycle?
Favourite Moments: Just too many to recall, but to name a few… Cycling on to a Dover – Calais ferry on a 3 day trip to Paris with my brother. Arriving on the other side, and cycling the remaining 35 miles to our first night stop felt fantastic. On the same trip cycling up the Champs Elysess, pretending to do a lead out. More recently the thrill of chasing the Baroudeurs down hills in Surrey, and our epic Tour de Blanc around the Isle of White.
Worse Moments: On LEJOG, coming down with serious food poisoning as I entered Scotland. The last four days of the trip cycling to John O’Groats were the hardest I have ever experienced on a bike. Not only was it painful, but also completely demoralising going from being fit and fast, to slow and ill. At times I thought I would have to drop out completely. In particular, upon arriving in Edinburgh, shaking with lack of energy, and laying awake all night with a fever. Unfortunately I had to take a day off the schedule, and even then didn’t recover until well after I had finished.