Stu, we're having this chat just hours after you've produced an epic 44.59 on the R25 in wales. Tell us about your ride!
As you well know, I’m normally a man of many words. However, this time I’m struggling. It’s quite overwhelming really and I can’t quite believe it. I know it’s page one of the testers excuse book, but I’ve been feeling pretty garbage all week due to a stag weekend for a good friend. Luckily, Dan has brought me back to life and got me firing on all cylinders for this weekend and able to pull out a ride. Looking at the weather all week has been exciting. The forecast has been outstanding and it didn’t disappoint. From the about 5 or 6 miles in, I knew it was going to be a pretty special ride but never in a million years did I expect to go under 45 minutes. A long 45 was my target, so to just creep under with 44:59 has really blown my mind. The thought that only two people have ever gone faster (Dowsett and Bialoblocki) is something that might take quite some time to sink in.
2. Just a few years ago you were road racing, what made you change across to focus more on TT?
Well, after first picking up a road bike in 2013, falling in love with it and starting racing late that summer, I then went from 4th to 1st Cat in the 2014 season. I quickly found that racing smaller regional races was very competitive and a lot of fun, but racing on a bigger stage in larger National races became more of a challenge. In short, I was pretty rubbish at it. I’d rather try smashing it off the front than sit in the bunch, which regularly resulted in me either towing the bunch round or being left hung out to dry until they decided to reel me in and I got spat! So I decided that racing against the clock was more my kind of thing. It suits my mindset too. I’m quite analytical and nerdy and I think it’s a very pure form of cycling. Just me against myself.
3. Last year your consistent form really turned some heads, but you've stepped it up again in 2018, what has made the biggest difference this year?
If I’m honest, I can’t really put my finger on anything specific, but you’ve used a very good term there. Consistent. Consistency is key in my opinion and if you want to succeed or get better at anything, you have to apply yourself consistently. Keeping on top of nutrition, hydration, rest, strength and conditioning, stretching/massage really helps and supplements the actual bike training really effectively. Something else I think is very important too, which kind of contradicts what I’ve just said slightly, is letting your hair down once in a while. Taking things too seriously all the time can lead to burns out and under performance. (Well, that’s what I tell myself when enjoying a large Gin & Tonic!!)
4. We know that the second year of cycling coaching with MBPC training is generally the year that can make the biggest difference, would you say this applies to you as well?
On the whole, I would say that yes, it’s the second year where the biggest differences start to take effect. The training load doesn’t get easier and sometimes I look at the sessions I’ve been set and retch at the thought of them. However, what I have found is that my mental and physical resilience has improved to match that training load, and although the sessions are turbo nails, it’s rare that I don’t complete a session. That transfers to racing too. The old ‘train hard, race easy’ mantra. Never give up. Trust the process. I’m looking forward to a better winter this year and having an even bigger third year.
5. You've got a busy nationals calendar coming up, how much are you looking forward to getting stuck in to them?
Mega excited would be an understatement. It’s great racing club and Open TTs week in-week out, but when it comes down to it, Nationals are the key goals, right? For me personally, all the training leads up to them and putting in ‘a ride’ on the day is what all the hard work is for. You’re not wrong about it being busy either! It’s already kicked off with the Circuit Champs and I’ve got the 50 this weekend. After that it’s the 100 the weekend after as well. Later in the summer i’ll be having a crack at the Team Time Trial with a few of the other guys, the 25, 10 and Closed Circuit Champs! I think it’ll be holiday time after that lot!
6. Finally can you give us an insight into how you balance training with work and the rest of your lifestyle, it isn't easy at the top, but you're clearly making it work!
Over the last two years working with Dan, I’ve typically averaged only 6-8 hours per week of training and racing. Not a lot compared to some people but it’s very much a quality>quantity approach. As I’m no longer racing Road Races, the longer stuff isn’t really necessary aside from an increase to cope with the National 100. I’m very fortunate that my job allows some flexible working by starting at 7AM and I get to leave the office at 330PM. This means i’m usually home by 4-415 and have then got lots of time to procrastinate before eventually getting my sessions done!