Andy Edwards

Name : Andy Edwards

Age : 39

Andy Edwards is racing with the club today, he's on a comeback after some promising rides as a junior.

Date you joined the Club : September 2009.

Why did you join Kingston Wheelers : It covered social riding and racing and I liked the fact there are a lot of members and lots of different rides on a Sunday to choose from.The membership is a broad and interesting mix of backgrounds, careers and so on.Lots to talk about at the cake stop and everyone is very generous in swapping information and ideas whether it is about racing, PowerTap thingys or where to stay for La Marmotte.

What made you start cycling : My family lived in a small village in East Lancashire close to Pendle Hill.My brother and I rode everywhere and there were lots of hills.It was something to do.The challenge was to try and get to the top of a hill without pushing, then the next hill, then without weaving up the road, then as fast as we could.Our Dad raced in the 1950s, the days of the British League of Racing Cyclists, which was the predecessor of the BCF (now BC).He grew up close to the Lake District and also raced in Holland.Fausto Coppi was his hero, so we were steeped in a bit of cycling history too.

What bike do you ride : Colnago Extreme Power with Campag Record for racing and Colnago Primavera with Campag Veloce for training/ club runs.I could never afford Colnago frames and Campag group sets when I was younger, unfortunately my legs don't go as quickly these days and no amount of Colnago magic will change that.

Give us a brief cycling background : I started quite young, joining my first club Nelson Wheelers CC at 12.They had a wonderful club coach called Duncan Horsfall (RIP) who lent me a bike and a jersey and gave me an old pair of Sidi shoes and at 13 I started racing.Duncan worked with the late great Eddie Soens at the North West Centre Of Excellence and taught me everything I now know about cycling whether it is training, racing, tactics, bike handling, diet, you name it.Eddie would come and speak at our club night, so too did Malcolm Firth and Harold H Nelson (who coached Paul Sherwen), so it was a great learning experience.

My family then moved to the Staffordshire Moorlands, which was also a hotbed for cycling.It was perfectly situated with the District (for hills), the Cheshire plain (for speed) and the Stoke-on-Trent Velodrome (for thrills) all within easy reach.I rode for Leek CC and although they didn't have a club coach per se, we had a group of older and more experienced riders from whom we would learn.Shouts of "no half wheeling" and stories of Les West "putting the hammer down" were commonplace.GB rider Steve Farrell; Tour de France riders Martin Earley, Adrian Timmis and Cathy Swinnerton all lived locally at the time; and Chris Boardman would ride our local track league, which was an experience trying to keep up in the points race!

There was a thriving racing scene of road, TT and track events,I would typically race 3 or 4 times per week in the summer.I did a bit of everything, but road racing was my forte.I wasn't much of a sprinter but I could handle the hills and longer courses better than most.I rode the Peter Buckley Series (the Junior equivalent of the Premier Calendar) and progressed to the West Midlands Centre Of Excellence Squad as a Junior.The top riders I competed against at the time included Scott O'Brien, Simeon Hempsall, Matt Stephens (now rider/ manager for Sigma Sport's UCI Team) and Mark Lovatt (6x Peak winner).

I stopped racing before my final year as a Junior to focus on A Levels.Then university, moving to London and career all got in the way of things and as the years passed I cycled less and less.By April 2009 I hadn't ridden my bike (still had my 20+ year old Vitus 979) in 18 months and I weighed 14 stone.My brother and I decided to set ourselves the goal of riding La Marmotte and l'Etape du Tour within a year, so we both started to ride again (Chris now rides for Liverpool Mercury).

After pootling around over the summer I joined Kingston Wheelers in September 2009, getting dropped up Box Hill on the arm chair ride.But I was hooked again and kept plugging away week-by-week and before I knew it I had started racing again after 22 years.I finished 9th in my first race at Hillingdon in the 3rd cats and 4th in the Kingston Wheelers Road Race 3rd cat race at Dunsfold, amongst other early season results.My old racing form is slowly returning and as of April 2010 I now weigh 11 stone.I never thought I would ever race again and it probably wouldn't have happened had I not joined the club.

What was your best performance or ride : My best performance was not my highest placing.At the age of 16 I finished 10th in the Junior Peaks Road Race, which featured in the Peter Buckley Series against some of the best riders in the country.It took place on the very hilly and iconic Axe Edge circuit near Buxton.The field was ripped to pieces and I rode aggressively helping establish a lead group of 15 or so riders including Matt Stephens, Dylan Williams, Scott O'Brien and Nathan Hall who were all GB riders.A number of other GB riders were dropped that day.We were 1,500 feet up in the Peak District and it was blowing a gale with torrential rain.Having just turned 16 I was one of the youngest riders in the race, competing against guys who were two years older than me.

What was your worst day on the bike : it was actually a whole month.In my second year as a Junior, I crashed my bike while out training.I landed on the side of my face and although I had no broken bones I was off the bike for three weeks in the middle of July.This was just as I was hitting peak form and I missed a load of races.Within 2 days of getting back on the bike I was due to ride the Gwent Two Day Stage race in South Wales, the only stage race at the time for Juniors and over a very hilly course.I was riding for the West Midlands Centre of Excellence Squad, but had nowhere near the form I needed.The race panned out as follows :

  • Stage 1 TT :caught by my minute man and punctured.Finished last.
  • Stage 2, Hilly RR :cramped on the last hill, finished off the back of the bunch.Probably last.
  • Stage 3, Crit :rear mech snapped had to run 1/2 mile and swap bikes with a guy who was 4 inches taller than me and that I could just about ride to get round and finish the race, on a 2 mile circuit so no laps out.Last.By a mile.
  • Stage 4, Hilly RR :starting to feel a bit better but wasnow the team domestique.I paced one one our top riders back to the bunch after a puncture, pushed a guy who had bonked on the penultimate climb and then was told my my team manager to get motoring so eventually finished around 20th on the stage but by then I was way behind on GC I was last overall anyway.

It was great to help the team, but gutted for my own chances and my legs have never been so sore.

Who is your favourite pro or inspiration : All time hero :Robert Millar, Britain's best Grand Tour rider bar none. Other favourites :the English speaking riders of the 80s :Phil Anderson, Greg LeMond, Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche.LeMond deserves a lot of credit for opening up the sport to new influences and ideas.I also admired Bernard Hinault, even though he was so irascible. Currently :Malcolm Elliot and Lance Armstrong for showing older guys can still cut it.

What is your favourite bike food : Old school :Mum's flapjack and Kendal Mint Cake. New school :Cliff bars, tasty and a handy size.

Where is your favourite cycling location : Anywhere with mountains or hills and hairpin bends..

Most likely to say : "What's that in miles : "

Least likely to say : "I'm going to ride a 12 hour time trial" or "Commuter cycling in London really isn't that bad.".