I only got round to meeting Sam for the first time at the recently completed Peaks Challenge, where Sam came in at a stunning 8hours 22 minutes. I briefly caught up with him at the start (from the other side of the fence), and then again at the finish. I had heard about Sam a few years back, and as it turns out is a friend of a friend – Adelaide! I bumped into Sam on the road at an Everesting last winter when I popped in to say g’day to another awesome Everester Dave. I had no hope in hell of keeping up with Sam, Dave and the others, but it was good to see the support being offered.
I’m glad I had a chance for a chat with Sam, because he is an interesting character and just one of those all round decent fellows. So put your feet up and enjoy this weeks Rider of the Week.
Sam is a 45 year old Adelaidian. During the day he’s the General Manager of an awesome little digital marketing agency called The Distillery with around 15 very talented and awesome people.
Out of work hours he’s a another middle-aged lycra-clad cycling tragic, husband of Becky and father of Tilly (10) and Hannah (8).
- Tell us a little about when and how you got into cycling?
Probably a pretty typical story I’d have thought…. I was fast approaching 40 years of age, tipping the scales at close on 100kgs over my skinny 6′ 3″ frame, smoking a lot and doing no exercise whatsoever. I’ve never enjoyed running so purchased (online) a Reid Osprey road bike… I was instantly addicted. I loved it but out grew the Osprey very quickly so next was a sweet aluminium Bianchi C2C with an 8spd Sora group set – I was the man! Still not in Lycra (no way, Lycra’s for swimmers, dancers and weirdos!) but was reading, riding and soaking up everything there was to know about bikes… so, again rapidly upgraded to what has become my most faithful of partners – the 2011 Ridley Excalibur with the bullet-proof Ultegra 10spd group set. She’s now clocked 40,000kms and is still be the first bike I grab for a social ride. More recently I’ve purchased a 2015 Focus Izalco Max 10 (DuraAce Di2) that is incredible. It is brilliant! Super light, super fast. but it will take a lot of time to earn the love I have for my old 2011 Ridley. I now spend far more time in Lycra than casual attire.
- You have been seen participating in some of the more extreme cycling events, like Everesting, 3 peaks, Melbourne to Adelaide. Why?
I could just answer this with James Raison’s standard answer… “Because bicycle”… but, really, I don’t exactly know, I think I just love a challenge. I’ve also toyed with the idea that I hate confrontation and just say ‘yes’ to everything, however, the truth is I wasn’t one of those riders that just worked crazy-hard for 6 months and was suddenly a ‘cyclist’. I’ve slowly over the past 6 years got stronger and faster, met more people that pushed me to keep up and inspired me to keep getting better, and still do. About 12 months ago I started doing a bit of masters racing as a couple of mates were. Then, out of the blue, I was invited by Mikael Liddy to a group Everesting challenge on Cleland Access Road and I thought, hey, why not? (note: I mentioned I find it hard to say ‘no’). That challenge was fantastic but the weather was atrocious – wet, foggy, freezing. We had such a great group attempting the 8,848m vert. Mark Pertini and Ryan Thomas were already good mates but I met James Raison, Dave Edwards and the inseparable trio of Alexander Louca, Nathan Elliott and Dirk Gardner. Super blokes every single one of them. I’d say Dave is the ring leader for the more extreme madness as he’s quite an inspiring character so when he says “I’ve got an idea….” well, you just kind of get wrapped up in the excitement and before you have a chance to think about it the tickets are booked and you’re on a flight to Melbourne with a 1,090km non-stop ride to get home.
- Are you just a roadie, or do you cross over to other disciplines?
Just a roadie. I’d love to try my hand at CX or some mountain bike stuff but, to be honest, I just haven’t the time to indulge with my wife, Becky, working full-time and a couple of kids that still like their dad – but I’m sure this won’t last much longer as they race towards their teenage years.
- How many bikes do you own and what is your main go to bike?
I’ve got 4 bikes… a lovely old Protour steely that was given to me by a Mark Pertini. It was his Dads but was just a touch too big for him. When he gave it to me I offered to pay him but he was having none of it and just walked away mumbling “cycling karma” – a phrase that has stuck with me. The cycling community in Adelaide really does look after each other and it’s something that we need to embrace. The Thursday night before Easter there were three gents Everesting Knox Tce up at Skye and the support was huge! From 5am in the morning until they finished at 4.am Friday morning (23 hours later!) there were people riding laps to give a bit of support. Many of these weren’t great mates but just cyclists that wanted to show some support – it’s quite amazing.
Oh, the question? Bikes. Sorry…. yes, as mentioned earlier my go to ride is still the 2011 Ridley Excalibur – it’s a massive 61cm frame so it a really relaxed ride. Lastly, the latest steed to the stable is the incredible Focus Izalco Max 1.0… what a beast! Super stiff and light, it descends likes it’s on rails and climbs far better than I allow it to. I also have a very, very old mountain bike to hack around Aldgate with the kids. I paid $50 for it and it’s been said that I paid $30 too much.
- What bike do you covet?
It changes on a regular basis but always on the wish list is the beautiful Colnago C60. So much style. So much class.
- What is your favourite piece of cycling kit?
Currently it’s the Hells500 ‘grey stripe’ – it’s only available to Everesters so it’s a well earned piece of kit that also gets a bit of respect from those in the know.
- How do you store your bikes?
In the ‘bike room’ that is sometimes referred to by my wife as the ‘laundry’. She’s funny like that.
- Do you do all your own maintenance or do you use a LBS? If so, which one?
I’m terrible when it comes to maintenance so if it’s outside of the wash, replace tubes / tyres and lube chain, I use Paul Captein from Cycle2U (Cycle2U.com.auas he is the bike guru, a demigod of the group set, the carbon master. He can make an old steed with over 40,000kms feel better than brand new. He’s also really affordable. Fits parts you’ve purchased or can supply and his advice is second to none. On top of that he’s a also a damn good bloke. Give him a go, go on, I dare you. I double dare you.
- What cycling specific tools do you have in your “bike shed”?
Chainwhip – used once, never again, made a mess of the old Steely. Pedal spanner – but it’s no good for Ultegra pedals so never used, and that’s about it.
- What do you love about cycling?
So much to love. I love the banter of social rides with mates. Hitting hills solo in terrible conditions that let you know you’re alive. Masters racing keeps my competitive streak satisfied. Commuting by bike is so much better than sitting in the car. Challenges test both the body and mind. I really do just love it all. I used to live by the stats – pour over Strava’s suffer score, keep a check on cadence, monitor my heart rate, compare power metres but over the last 6 months I’ve removed the heart rate monitor (I just didn’t feel the need to know when my heart was going to explode) and taken off the cadence from the back wheel and a power meter is off the wish list…. it’s been great! Cathartic. It’s really helped me to appreciate the simple fun of ‘riding’.
- What annoys most about cycling?
Not much. Probably the media’s obsession with making ‘all’ cyclists public enemy number 1. It’s the go to story for a slow news week but the consequences are likely to be deadly. I actually find very few drivers get fired up and a I see very few cyclists taking the piss – a bit of mutual respect, supported and delivered by a mature media would make life so much easier for cyclists and motorists alike.
- Other than yourself, who is your favourite cyclist?
Ha ha ha. I don’t have just the one. I enjoy watching the pros but I’m not a ‘fan boy’. I really respect the guys and girls I ride and race with every week. Almost everyone has a great story. They all can ride – some are not the fastest but have huge hearts. Others have only been riding for 10 months and are knocking over 3 Peaks in under 10 and a half hours. Others have lost 1/3 of their body weight through cycling. So many inspirational and brilliant people. Yay cycling.
- If you could have dinner with 3 professional cyclists, who would they be?
I’d like to throw Lance Armstrong, Greg LeMond and Tyler Hamilton around the table…. that should create a few fireworks. I’ll just watch, with claret in hand, and drop a few choice conversation starters.
- What are your craziest/fondest cycling memories?
The ride from Melbourne to Adelaide is an absolute stand out and was both the craziest ride and fondest memory to date. It was remarkable on so many levels – we (David Edwards, James Raison and Peter Arnott) just hit if off and were on the same page from the moment the idea was hatched. The task of riding flat-out from the MCG to Adelaide Oval really got home when sitting on the Sorrento ferry with around 100kms in the legs realising we still had around 1,000 to go. A lot of banter, a lot of encouragement and a lot of madness is shared over a 60 hour period on bikes but I’d be the first to say ‘when, yes, you bet’ if another crazy ride is considered.
- What is your favourite post ride coffee spot, and what would you normally buy?
A shout out to a couple of Hills coffee spots – The Stirling Providore, behind the Stirling Hotel, is terrific as is Fred’s Eatery in Aldgate that recently changed hands. Ive always been a Long Black drinker but more recently, to keep the order easy, I’ve been going for the standard order of the Flat White to keep the peace.
- Do you have a nickname?
Not really… Jeffo or Sambo are the main ones.
- Have you ridden overseas?
Not as yet and it’s high on the wish list. My wife is English so hoping to combine a trip back with a cycling trip. I’ve spent some time in the French Alps during the winter months when living in the UK so would love to ride them in the Summer.
- What is your favourite training route?
I don’t really have a favourite route and like to mix it up a bit and apply the #justridelots theory. However, from my home in Aldgate I’m insanely lucky to be able to cross over to Deviation Road, duck down through Basket Range and loop back over Mt Lofty. An amazing 50kms with around 1,000km vert. If time is on my side there’s always a Little Italy or Pound Road extension to really punish the legs and lungs.
- What is the biggest cycling lie you have told your partner?
Shhh, keep it down. She’s probably watching and reading this – she’s always watching and waiting for a slip-up!
- What would you like your partner to buy you for your next birthday?
A nice set of winter training rims and/or a new group set for the old Ridley.
- Is there a local cycling outfit/company/cycling club/cycling group/person that you would like to plug?
Although it started in Melbourne I think Hells 500 (hells500.com.au) sums up cycling for me – there’s a big local chapter in Adelaide and it’s growing all the time with every Everesting attempt. Their ethos is great… push your limits and have the back of those that are pushing theirs… Crew got crew. Plus, their kit(s) is pretty sweet as mentioned earlier.
Also, the Adelaide Hills Masters Cycling Club (AHMCC) are a great club. If anyone has every thought about road racing do come on out and ‘have a go’ one weekend. It’s competitive but also really encouraging – you can’t go wrong with a gold coin donation for coffee and biscuits! Big ups to all the volunteers that give a lot of time to make racing happen week in, week out. Dead set legends.
Last of all, I have to thank my most awesome wife, Becky, who lets me indulge in this addiction – allowing me to spend far too much time and money on cycling. So often she’s left behind to run the house and kids. What a chick! And my girls, Tilly & Hannah, who are always at the end of the challenges cheering me on – it’s such an incredible feeling! Top kids those two.
- Is there anything else you feel like talking about?
I think I’ve rambled on enough, sorry.
Don’t apologise Sam, it’s been great scratching the surface of your cycling story, and looking forward to a #hopsbasedhydration drink one day soon.