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meet a local cyclist

Christopher Welham


Thanks to St Helena Hospice for providing this month's profile of a local cyclist. They speak to Christopher Welham, 54 who discovered cycling after a health scare in 2008. Christopher is due to compete at the Track Cycling World Masters Championship for the second time, but still finds time to support St Helena's Hospice's fundraising cycling events.

St Helena Hospice (SHH): Why did you start cycling?

CW: I had heart surgery in 2008. I’d put on loads of weight, I was 18.5 stone and need to lose it. With the help of a dietician I lost six stone in six months. I got myself a bike and it went from there really. I started cycling with 53-12 on their regular road runs and in March 2012 I borrowed a Bianchi from the shop and I started racing.

SHH: What’s your training schedule like?

CW: I have a full time job driving HGVs and teaching people to drive them too, and I train seven days a week in the evenings and weekends, so I just cycle competitively and for training. I do it with friends and they pull me along to get up the speeds I need to accumulate for the world championships. I can get up to 40 mph on the flat.

My training programme includes road training, gym work and in the velodrome virtually every week. I train with weights for my legs and core strength to get the speed and the power. When I go to the 2012 Olympic park for a two hour session, I do three laps for race simulation. I train all week for that and depending on how that goes, it will define what I’m going to do there. If I’m not at the velodrome I do a road session for an hour or it could be three hours depending on how I’ve performed during the week or if I’m tired.

SHH: Where’s your favourite place to cycle?

CW: On the road it’s Constable country in Dedham. It’s picturesque and it’s got great coffee shops. The annual St Helena Hospice cycle ride goes that way and I’ve ridden on every one, but as I’m competing that weekend, unfortunately I can’t make it this year. The Hospice raises funds for people with incurable illnesses locally so it’s important to me to support a charity like that.

If I could cycle anywhere in the world it would be Tenerife. I used to live there; it’s nice and hot, the humidity is quite high and it’s got some steep mountains for training.

SHH: What’s your most special cycling moment?

CW: Racing in New York in 2014 made me realise what level I had got to. It was a great race and I won my age category. It was quite a tough race; we cycled 50 miles at over 30 mph for a long time so it was really hard on my body but quite an achievement. I rode London to Paris in 2013, I’ve raced in the Alps and the Pyrenees, but I think America was the most satisfying for me, most enjoyable. 

SHH: Why is cycling so important to you?

CW: I just like to keep fit and it’s a healthy lifestyle. You have to eat the right food and look after yourself – and I quite like living! I used to drink alcohol and occasionally smoke and the heart specialist said ‘if you cut that out, eat the right food in your diet and get some exercise, you’re going to live longer’. So that’s why I got into cycling and it certainly works for me. And it’s that sense of accomplishment when you’ve been going around at that speed of 40 mph. Not many people can do it, it’s a great sensation. Cycling is a great thing to get into, it’s a good social life and great to get out in good weather and cycle. You just can’t beat it.

Register now for St Helena Hospice’s Cycle Ride on Sunday 2 October at Monks Farm Dedham. Choice of 5, 24, 56 and 100 mile rides.

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