I have been cycling on and off for years now but it was when I moved to Otley, a town famous for its road cycling, that I really became hooked and started racing. Up until that point I considered myself a mountain biker and would shudder at the thought of wearing skin tight lycra! My wife, Louise, had said when we moved that she would give me six months before I bought a road bike, and she was right. I now own three road bikes and the mountain bike is hardly used.
I have always had an interest in outdoor sports. I used to work as an outdoor instructor teaching kayaking and climbing to children, as well as running a Duke of Edinburgh Award group for a local school. I choose to leave that behind and focus on a career in design and it was at that point that I started teaching less and doing more for myself. A group of friends started getting together and we would regularly travel around the country finding new places to go mountain biking. We used to pick out ‘man-made’ trail centres like Coed-y-Brenin in Wales as well as travelling further afield to places like the French Alps and the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain. It was fantastic opportunity to cycle in different places and enjoy time with friends.
Since getting the road cycling bug I’ve joined the DirtWheels Cycles Team in Otley. They run a British Cycling club and manage the Dirtwheels Cycles Team which I am now part of. I only really started road racing last year so I’m very much at a novice level but I’m really enjoying the buzz and excitement of racing. I compete mostly in Yorkshire in a combination of ‘crit’ (short course) races and longer road races. I had a great first year and even managed a win! When I decided I wanted to take road racing seriously I looked for a coach to help me. Thankfully, the DirtWheels team was already working with former British Best All Rounder, Kevin Dawson, so it made sense to speak with him. Kev has been coaching me for around a year and the hard work is really paying off.
Living in Otley is just great for cycling as I have the whole Yorkshire Dales right on my doorstep. Not only that, Yorkshire has been chosen for the opening stages of the 2014 Tour De France – the Grand Départ setting off from Leeds on July 5, 2014 and the finish of that stage is just up the road from the Mixd office.
Cycling helps my work life because the training gives me a real break. I find the focus needed to race helps to drive me at work. You have to have real passion to train through the cold winter nights on icy roads. I also commute to work over the Dales to Harrogate. While the drive across the edge of the Dales can be positively up-lifting, it does get better on the days when I can leave my car at home and cycle to work. It really gives me a great start to the day and arrive feeling very refreshed and alive. It’s also a great way of getting away from the desk and spending time in our gorgeous countryside.