A catch up with fast group regular Chris West

Chris is a regular member of the clubs Sunday morning fast group, and often particpates in long distance events. We caught up with him just as lockdown restrictions were about to be relaxed.  


Q. When and what made you start cycling.

A. Like most, cycling was always a part of my childhood and as a means to get to school and back. As I grew older and became heavily involved in other sports, cycling became less of regular activity. Passing my driving test meant jumping in a car became the preferred mode of transport.

I do remember many years ago buying a second hand bike at a church sale to use to ride to work. I hadn't even made it home when the front wheel fell off, and so it was back to the car again. I always enjoyed cycling but it wasn't until about 20 years later, around 2009 when I was invited to do a mountain bike ride in France and then a group road ride that I realised how much I enjoyed it. I also remember watching TDF highlights over the years on C4 and Eurosport. The 2011 tour came through the village and past our house where we were living at the time which was a turning point, and the rest they say is history.


Q. What sort of riding do you enjoy

A. Road cycling is pretty much all I do. I love the club group rides, working together and enjoying the company. I enjoy the challenge of going up hill (though on current form you wouldn't think it) as much as bombing along on the flats when I like to let my mind wonder and imagine myself on the world tour, dream on!!

At the same time, I really enjoy solo riding and the freedom of finding new places to ride. I'm now exhibiting worrying signs of liking endurance cycling having done a couple of longish rides, though these pale into insignificance when compared to the feats of some of our members. Having read a few books about PBP and Mark Beaumont's exploits, I'd like to have a go at the next PBP in 2023.


Q. Is cycling the only sport you do

A. Currently pretty much. I turned my hand to most sports in my younger years, cricket rugby and football featured heavily with the possibility of becoming a professional cricketer curtailed by the decision to become a chef instead. Nowadays I'd say golf is the only other sport I dabble in but this is a bit hit and miss, quite literally!


Q. How often do you ride, and apart from cycling do you do other types of training

A. Mostly just once at the weekend but the long winter and a troublesome knee even made that quite difficult. In warmer and lighter months, I've been known to do some commuting into London. If I have any planned events, I try to get some sort of a training plan organised with extra rides. I had a go at Pilates last year but struggled to get into the spirit of it and find a huge amount of enjoyment.


Q. Other than cycling what are your other hobbies do you have 

A. My whole career and most of my life has centred around the hospitality industry. Cooking is still a passion though I gave up the professional kitchen quite some time ago. If you can call it a hobby, I'd have to say eating out or at home with family or friends brings me most joy, all washed done with some fine wine of course. I have lots of enthusiasm for home improvements and DIY, unfortunately my knowledge doesn't quite match that, but I love a little project, preferably outdoors in the sunshine.


Q. What is your most memorable ride

A. There have been many, Chase The Sun south & north, Paris London 3 times, but one that sticks out was a 4-day 1000+km coast to coast charity event in SW France in 2016. Starting near Albi close to where we used to live, we rode to Biarritz on day 1. Day 2 took us into the Pyrenees and the mighty Tourmalet which we unfortunately hit just as a storm rolled in and wiped out any chance of the amazing views as we rode up it in misty rain and plummeting temperatures. Day 3 started with Col d'Aspin and then a long stint across to the Med via Carcassonne. The final day was up and over the black mountains finishing back in Albi.


Q. Why did you join MDCC and what do you enjoy most about the club

A. My cycling was steadily improving, riding mainly with my brother, competing in sportives, some commuting, and occasionally with a group of guys from the Taplow area.  I wanted to take my cycling up a notch or two and joining a club seemed to be good way of doing this. One of the Taplow guys happened to be our very own IT expert and much revered cyclist Rob O'keefe. I had been contemplating joining a club and was checking out at a few options in the area. Naturally MDCC was given a glowing recommendation by Rob and having now been a member for over 2 years, I clearly made the right choice.

As mentioned above, the club rides are great, especially the banter and useful tips and advice you can pick up.


Q. Does anyone else in the family cycle

A. Alas not at the moment. My 19-year-old son dabbled in a bit of downhill mountain biking for a few years but his YT Capra is now gathering dust in the garage. Saying that, my 83-year-old father who is extremely healthy for his age, got out on his bike during 2020 and was regularly riding 20-30 miles around the Berkshire countryside in warmer, sunnier times.


Q. Do you have any cycling hates

A. I like to think I'm a considerate cyclist and obey the highway code so it would have to be those who are less diligent who ride through red lights and generally flout the law. That and unsociable riders who don't like saying hello back to you especially if they ride past me.


Q. Now for a question for the techno geeks! What would you choose:

i. Disc or Calliper brakes

A. Controversial - but has to be calliper. Is it just me, but as good as discs might be, there's something strange about the gap where you would expect to see the brakes.


Q. How have you managed in 2020 with all of its challenges 

A. I was furloughed at the end of March until late July which not only meant my project list received lots of ticks, but I also got out alot and made the most of the glorious weather. Being back at work for the nearly a year has put a stop to all of that. Winter lockdown was a bit tedious but I count myself lucky in many ways and now enjoy being dropped going up the hills once again.