Photo credit @sprintcycling
We catch up with Alex Dowsett, professional British cyclist and Body Rocket investor and ambassador, to chat aerodynamics, cycling technology, and racing plans for this year.
Hi Alex, great to chat. Where are you at the moment and what are you training for?
I'm up the mountain in Andorra currently, Tirreno Adriatico is up next but the Giro is the main upcoming target.
Nice! We hear congratulations are in order on the recent birth of your baby girl, by the way. How long before she’ll be riding a bike? What age were you when you first sat on a bike?
Thank you, she's got a little strider tricycle thing that we push her around the flat on, but it'll be a while yet before she's tearing around herself I'd imagine. I don't actually remember the first time I sat on a bike, I remember getting my first proper mountain bike at nine years old and crashing quite quickly after getting a bit excited on some downhills!
Then presumably it was a swift transition to road cycling! What’s your main target for this year race-wise?
The Giro initially, but then there's a lot of racing after that as well so I'm sure there'll be more goals. The Commonwealth Games is another target - selection for the TT will be tough and I haven't made selection for the last couple of big events so I'll try and turn that around.
There’s been some recent controversy in the cycling media about whether TT bikes should be banned on public roads – and even in racing – due to the dangerous positions riders now have with low visibility of roads and other road users/cyclists. Do you have an opinion on this?
I actually did a whole YouTube video about it recently, I think a simple solution to the visibility problem is to relax the 10cm rule around tri bar/armrest height. This way, it will allow riders to bring their hands to their heads rather than straining to bring their head into their hands, which causes head-down riding.
Where do you think the future of cycling technology is heading (more widely, and also more specifically in the aerodynamics space)?
Realtime CDA, then adapting pacing strategies accordingly using the power meter. Optimised pacing of a TT is still a very much untapped market.
Data is one thing, but some cyclists have the sense that we are too attached to data and that riding a bike isn’t really about riding a bike anymore. What are your thoughts?
It depends what you're riding a bike for, I personally like the data as a measure of progress in training, which is why I ride a bike. Often I'll have the data to look at afterwards and ride on feel - that way you can adapt to a good or bad day without necessarily chasing numbers. But having it there to check in on in real-time can be equally important.
If you could do one thing to make yourself more aero – if it were allowed outside of UCI sanctions – what would it be?
Fairings on the body, calf, arms, lower back. The body is super un-aerodynamic so it'd be fun to change all that! And have the openness to bike design like they do in triathlon – I think it'll allow the engineers to really have fun with some wild designs!
That would be great to see. Lastly, who’s your cycling hero?
It was always my dad, he raced cars, which I know isn't bikes but he helped me when I expressed an interest in racing bikes and encouraged me without pushing. Within cycling I didn't really have an idol or hero so to speak, I was interested in the Obree and Boardman battles and my first memory of track was Jason Queally winning the kilo in the Athens Olympics and the tech fascinated me – of course, it helped that he then appeared on my cereal box a week later!