Dominic and his tandem partner Charlie Mitchell will attempt to beat the LEJOG men’s tandem record in May, this is Dom’s 3rd attempt at this record.
When did you get into cycling long distances?
I was inspired originally by an article I read on setting awesome and ridiculous goals. Not being able to swim and only having a bike for popping to the shops, an Ironman triathlon seemed like a good starting point. This introduced me to long bike rides. Epically hard at first I grew to love the sensation of travelling through the countryside by bike – and this still remains my primary pleasure.
Was there a reason you chose endurance over other forms of competitive cycling?
There are so many reasons. Firstly the training involves travelling over vast distances of countryside and seeing lots of this beautiful country in which we live. Secondly, endurance involves so much more than physical fitness. It’s a state of mind. I love the journey of discovery as one goes ever further. There’s also the teamwork. Ultra distance often means having a support team and there’s all the fun of working together with others to achieve an objective. Despite what you may think – ultra distance is a team game. And anyway, shorter distance racing is too intense for me.
What bikes do you ride?
I am very privileged to ride a custom made Orbit Lightning Tandem. This is a gloriously comfortable machine that munches miles like they don’t exist, all the while being supremely comfortable. My two other favourite bikes are a custom made single speed titanium road bike on which I completed London Edinburgh London last year and my rigid steel single speed MTB on which I completed the Transpyr – a multi stage off road ride along the length of the Pyrenees.
What advice would you give our readers who wish to get into long distance cycling?
Ride a comfortable bike! Get it fitted properly. Plan your routes to explore interesting places. Build up a bit at a time. Pace yourself. Going long is all about a nice steady constant effort up hill and down dale. Do it on a tandem, it’s far more fun with company.
What’s your favourite food to eat whilst cycling?
This changes all the time. Currently I’m really enjoying Christmas cake, cheese sandwiches and Liquorice Allsorts! But not altogether! Whilst expensive sweet and sickly sports nutrition is the preferred food of some, I find proper food gets me a lot further down the road.
What has been your favourite event so far?
Without a shadow of a doubt, the first Ultra I did, Race Across The Alps. This takes in a ridiculous number of Alpine passes in 525km in under 30 hours. The scenery was magnificent, the support crew amazing and the lessons learnt staggering.
How many hours riding do you do in a typical week?
If you averaged my training across the year it’s just short of 18 hours a week. The range is somewhere between 10 and 35 hours a week. Monday to Friday is mostly turbo sessions (morning and evening) and the weekends are long rides.
Apart from riding your bike do you do any other forms of training?
I don’t have time! I do some core work and have been known to pick up the odd weight from time to time. Holidays invariably involve a kayak in the summer.
How much does science play a part in your approach to cycling?
Huge! I am luck enough to be coached by Professor Simon Jobson at Winchester University. My training plans are based on understanding my functional threshold power and my chronic training load. Training sessions are planned to work the different systems at work in the body. An occasional visit to the lab to be prodded, poked, bled and what feels like being ridden to collapse provide data on improvement. I also work with (amongst others) a nutritionist to help with energy and a psychologist to develop better mental techniques. The more I learn, the more I realise how much science can contribute to improvement.
The LEJOG men’s tandem record has stood for 50 years, why do you think no one has broken it before when the solo record has been beaten so many times?
Tandem riding is so much more than being great cyclists. It’s also about being a great team. There have been many great teams and many teams of great cyclists who have attempted the record but as yet the right team has not had the right conditions to crack it. This will be my third attempt and with each go I have an increasing admiration for the staggering record that was set.
How much does the weather play a part in the success of the attempt?
It’s massive. The record will not be broken without a tail wind. It’s as simple as that. The trouble is you need a low pressure off Ireland and then to time it just right to make the most of it. The challenge is low pressures are fickle beasts and the promise of a healthy 20mph tail wind can end up a 15mph cross wind.
If you are successful in beating the record then what’s next?
Later in the summer it’s a busman’s holiday leading a group of friends on a ride from Grenoble to Nice. Then I thought it would be fun to do the three peaks and ride in between with some mates – on Tandems of course! After that I do have some plans, but I have to keep these close to my chest.