Wednesday 8 April 2015

10 soundbites from......David Millar

I caught up with David Millar at the recent Bike Expo in Manchester. I must say, having gotten used to seeing him in cycle racing kit over the course of the last twelve years it was quite refreshing to see him in civvies. And he looked quite stylish at that. Since rounding off his 18-year professional racing career last October he's been pretty busy, writing a book, designing a new clothing line, and becoming a Maserati ambassador for the Tour of Yorkshire.

He managed to find a few minutes to chat to me for before he did his Questions & Answers session with Rob Hayles on the stage. Here are a few quotes from my interview with David Millar and when he was on the stage with Rob Hayles.

"When I stopped racing it didn’t feel as though I’d stopped because I had 3 months of having operations and having things done with my hands after crashing during the Tour of Spain.
We do thrash ourselves a fair bit over our careers and you only really realise it when you stop. I am quite shocked to know I do this much damage to myself.
I was quite surprised to be asked to represent the Cyclistes Professionelles Associes (CPA) at the extreme weather protocol meetings. I never ever thought I’d be doing stuff with the union that’s for sure. I used to think, "gee shoot me in the head".

I am based in Girona so I see some of my friends there like Ryder Hesjedal and Dan Martin. I will definitely hook up with them to ride on their recovery days. I won’t join them on their training days, that’s for sure!
We had a great year when Brad (Wiggins) was with us (in Garmin) in 2009. It was a bit complicated the way he left, but we had great times when we were racing together. He was always very serious and very professional.

The modern British cyclist is different to the cyclists of my generation or before. We had to ship out to France, Spain, Italy or Belgium and learn the language. Now you can become a pro and live in Essex, and never have left!
At my first Tour de France in 2000 racing for Cofidis, people thought we were at the vanguard of technology but it was far from that. I had just one bike to race and train with and bought my wheels and my handle bars.
I would have like to have ridden for team Sky, but with zero tolerance it was impossible. I was very lucky for the final part of my career to be on a team that I loved.
[Following the death of Wouter Weylandt in the 2011 Giro d'Italia] Wearing the pink jersey was something I’d always dreamt of doing. And there I was trying on the pink jersey and the whole place had fallen to pieces. The next morning I realised I had to take control and lead the peloton and it was such a very sad day.  I was quite proud that I was given that responsibility.
I had originally wanted to go to art college, but now with my new clothing line I have designed I have ended up doing what I always wanted to do I suppose." 
My interview with David Millar can be found in the latest Cycling Weekly magazine



Tuesday 7 April 2015

Leisure Cheshire Bike Ride

A ride through the hills of the Goyt Valley or the Cat and Fiddle climb near Macclesfield is lovely on the eye, but tough on the legs - especially when you are unfit, like me. Instead, the Cheshire Plain is a less onerous alternative.

One route that I like is to ride from Macclesfield via Broken Cross and then down the sweeping country lanes towards Siddington. There is a main road to cross, the A34, after which you arrive in the village of Lower Withington. I have good memories of this area as it's where I did a "lads 'n' lasses" 2-up time trial with the Manchester Wheelers. All I had to do was to ride in the slipstream of a guy who made a big hole in the air for 10 miles. The road was flat and I was shielded from the slightest wind. I wish all time trials were like that! Then we went for a pub meal afterwards at the Red Lion pub. Happy days!

From Lower Withington I find some even quieter roads which lead to the famous observatory at Jodrell Bank. I would have liked to ride a bit closer to the radio telescope but some of the roads shown on my map turned out to be off limits on the bike, so I pressed on with the rest of my ride to other nearby villages.

The best thing was that once I had left the main A535 road there was barely any traffic at all. At one point the road swooped down a lovely twisty descent, below the railway line and I felt like I was just out in my own private world of cycle lanes. Well, my world of Peover and Chelford!

I finally reach "civilisation" in the shape of the Chelford Island - not particularly exotic, it's just an asymmetric roundabout on the Knutsford Road. Soon I'm heading out towards the Chelsea of the North, Alderley Edge. In fact, I don't reach the heart of the Village with its smattering of Mancunian soap opera actors or footballers. I prefer to go properly to the edge - the chalky escarpment that gives views all over Cheshire and beyond.

Escarpment, I hear you cry? I said it is a flat ride, but in fact, dear reader, there is one teeny climb in the ride - Artists Lane. It's a popular climb in the area and often included in cyclosportive events. I said teeny, but in fact, dear reader it goes on for about 10 minutes if you have average fitness.

So, compared to Alpe d'Huez or Tourmalet it is a tiny baby! The only thing is because the road twists you are never quite sure when you are near the top, and that makes it a real slog at the end of your ride. That's exactly how it felt for me, as an unfit forty-something. At least I wasn't alone, for this is a popular road with cyclists - some of whom gave me sympathetic encouragement!

After tea and cake at the Wizard Pub and a quick look at the Cheshire plain panorama it's a nice steady descent back to Macc. Not a bad little leisure ride.  

Route map for this ride.