Our latest rider interview is with a familiar face at Herne Hill Velodrome, the one and only (Lord) Euan Cattermole. After a pretty storming season last year, which included a win in the Last Chance race at Red Hook London, we spoke to Euan about his aspirations for 2018.
Palu: How long have you been riding and what got you into it?
Euan: Simple answer: all my life. My Granddad raced, my dad raced, my brother raced, so I did too. I grew up around the sport and have been racing since I was 8.
Palu: What's your earliest memory of Cycling?
Euan: Probably just messing around at Herne Hill whilst my dad and my brother raced. Going up to Crystal Palace on a Tuesday to watch the racing, watching the Tour on the TV, that sort of thing.
Palu: What's your role at Herne Hill Velodrome?
Euan: I’m Head Coach and Development Officer. Basically my job is to look after cycling at the velodrome. I look after all the coaching team and training them up. I look after all the public sessions and racing. I develop pathways into the sport for women and kids, through new sessions and initiatives.
Palu: When you're not at the track, where do you train?
Euan: Out in the Kent and Surrey countryside, south-east of London, where the roads aren’t smooth at all! Proper gutty riding at times. Bit of rollers and turbo at home too. Maybe some hill sprints in Forest Hill too (if I can be arsed!)
Palu: What kind of training programme do you follow for Red Hook?
Euan: Normally like to start properly ‘training’ about a month before a big objective. I break it down into three, 10 day blocks. The first 10 days is mostly mileage, but with a few race efforts, just getting myself fit. The next 10 days I’m looking to push my race fitness, so less mileage, more intensity, some brutal rollers, turbo and race efforts. The last 10 days is the taper, more rest and recovery but trying to stay sharp. Rollers and derny sessions here for sure, getting that speed work done. In the midst of all of this I’ll do some cornering sessions on my track bike, finding the limits. Occasionally I’ll go to Crystal Palace, but mostly I do it in the centre at Herne Hill. To find out what speed you can go round a corner, you also have to find out at what speed you can’t go round a corner! I don’t think there’s any point in having the legs if you don’t have the skills. I always try and mix in a bit of skills training when I’m riding because I think it’s worthwhile but also, simply because I enjoy it so much. I always grew up just mucking about on bikes and that is something which I’m glad I have never lost. Even out in the lanes I’ll be seeing how hard I can hit a descent, come flying past my mates sitting side saddle on the top tube, or flicking drinks cans with my front wheel.
Palu: How do you find the switch between track and road?
Euan: To be fair, I’ve never done much road, only really for training. I’ve been back racing for three years and have solely focussed on track because I love it so much, but I want to get into more road crits next year, Crystal Palace especially. I never really had the attention span for road racing. I can just about sustain my attention for a few hours in the lanes, but you’re not allowed to muck around as much in the bunch during a road race so I get bored.
Euan: Do you prefer velodrome or fixed gear crit racing?
Very tough question. I’ve always had a passion for track racing and loved the sensation you get from riding a fixed gear bike. To take that same bike and apply it to a different environment is such a perfect feeling. I’m glad that track bikes made their way onto a crit circuit, for me it’s quite a natural feeling. I guess just doing track racing can leave things a little stagnant; it was nice for a bit of freshness and a new challenge. I’m quite a tactical thinker so to give me something new to delve my mind into the intricacies is quite fun. Can’t beat the crowds at a Red Hook too. Milan especially.
Palu: Do you follow a particular diet for your training?
Euan: Well apart from being vegetarian, nothing crazy strict or regimented, but I eat pretty healthily. Normally fruit or a smoothie, with oats and yoghurt when I wake up. 3-4 eggs for brunch. Big rice or pasta based dish for lunch and then something ‘normal’ for dinner. Main thing is to make sure I eat enough to be honest. I eat a lot and often to keep myself feeling fresh. As a rule of thumb, take the amount that normal people eat and double it! Will try not to eat anything big 2 hours before a race or hard session. Constant snacking whilst out in the lanes.
Palu: How does cycling help you tackle your health issues?
Euan: I love how cycling can offer you that bit of escapism away from the pressures and stresses of the rest of your life. In terms of your head, it’s life changing; it can make you feel so free and so calm. You can be so perfectly connected to what you’re doing, without having to worry about anything else. I’ve also spent the last 6 or so years recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I always feel like people who do such physical sports know their bodies so well. I think having this knowledge really helped. Also having the knowledge of how to structure and progressively build training, actually really helped to improve my health, nice and gradually. It’s something I still have to manage very well, but I think because of the things it has taught me, I may well now be a better racer than I would have been without it.
Palu: What do you love about Pinarello?
Euan: Love a bit of Italian class and style but without compromising on performance. Perfect balance of style and speed. Everyone loves a Pinarello, everyone stops and tells you they love your bike.
Palu: What has been your most memorable race?
Euan: Probably the Last Chance Race at Redhook London 3, racing in the pissing rain in front of home support. Ended up there by accident to be honest, but actually revelled in the chance to get to race again. Was pretty worried at the start as to how I’d get on as I pretty much didn’t know anyone else I was racing against, really thought I’d struggle to be fair. It wasn’t long before I realised I was actually able to race the race instead of just riding round. Me and my mate Rees kept drilling the pace of the group until only the 10 qualifying riders remained in the front group. Then I had this crazy thought that I could actually win so dropped back a few places, ready to gun it on the long straight with half a lap to go. I got a big enough gap to sustain my lead through the more technical section. I remember as I kicked into the home straight that in road sprints, sprinters always move towards the middle of the road for the photographs, so that’s what I did. I popped my front wheel in the air as I crossed the line and everyone went nuts for it. All the kids I coach were there screaming for me and when I came back to the rider area all my friends mobbed me. It was a great feeling.
Palu: What are your plans for next season?
Euan: Definitely more crits for sure. More fixie crits in warmer and beautiful places but also get stuck into the local crit racing scene; Crystal Palace and the like, whilst keeping things ticking over at the velodrome.
Palu: What advice do you give to young riders getting into racing?
Euan: Get yourself some mates around you, it will make such a difference to your confidence and your drive. Starting racing when you’re new can be scary. If you’re turning up to races with some like-minded mates then you’re gonna be so much calmer. I’m quite a quiet person, but just have that confidence to say hello and strike up a conversation with someone. You’ll only need to do it once and the rest will flow. Cycling is such a social sport too. It’s one of the beautiful things about it. Make friends with people who are better than you too! Look up to them, learn from them, that’ll push you on.
Palu: What's your favourite thing about the London cycling scene?
Euan: The London cycling scene is probably the most diverse in the world. People ride every sort of bike, in every way imaginable. It’s such a broad spectrum, their truly is something for everyone.
Palu: Grazie Euan, good luck at Red Hook!