Friday, 11 November 2011

Tejvan Pettinger

Tejvan - 2011 National Hill Climb Championship
I know I am not alone in following the excellent Cycling Uphill blog by Tejvan Pettinger and have been for a while now.  When you reach the end of this post, take a look around his blog - you'll find a wide variety of posts and articles all within his cycling world.

There are, I am finding, many things positive about personal blogs.  They are a chance to follow an individual; their progress, the twists and turns, almost getting to know someone through what they have to say.  I find myself thinking that if I could put the clock back, chances are I'd fancy some competitive cycling, especially in the light of my half marathon times achieved as a runner.  Whenever I click onto his blog I find myself thinking "I wonder what it's about today" as it could be a race report, a review of a bike or a bit of kit, perhaps some personal observation or simply a few photographs.

Tejvan seems to be getting a fair following, judging by the number of comments and it almost looks like a fan club is starting to grow.  And with good reason judging from some of his results below.  I quite like the banter which pops up occasionally in the threads of comments (I might even have fuelled some of this myself!).

I was keen to find out more.  Here's how the conversation went:

Tejvan, you're clearly an accomplished cyclist, where did it all begin? 
I began cycling aged 15. At the time, I was mainly interested in doing long rides. I joined a local cycling club (Otley CC) and on Sundays we would go out for long 7-8 hour rides and complete 100 slow miles around the Yorkshire Dales (with quite a few cafe stops); it was the traditional British club run. As a teenager, I did one 10 mile time trial (30mins) and  two hill climbs, but wasn't any good. At university (Oxford University CC) I did a bit of cycling, but never really got round to racing. Then due to knee injury and other factors I stopped cycling almost completely. I didn't restart until I was 26. That was when I started racing regularly, and to my pleasant surprise did quite well.
With cycling in mind, can you tell me what's in it for you? 
 I think I enjoy training and racing. I've always loved cycling, so taking it to next level and racing seemed the obvious thing to do. Also, I like going to races to meet similar people and see what you can do.

In other words, what drives you to do all that training? 
I enjoy the training nearly as much as the racing. I like stretching myself and pushing yourself to your limits. It's hard work, but you get a feeling of satisfaction after riding.

What about other kinds of cycling? 
I commute into centre of Oxford, which is really very different kind of cycling. It's not so much getting fit as safely negotiating the roundabouts and cars! I think a lot about optimal transport systems, it's a shame we can't do a lot better, because transport could be really good - if you provide the right infrastructure.

I also enjoy long rides for the scenery. But, ironically often only do this in winter, as in summer my focus is racing. I've never got into off-road riding, perhaps because I already have 6 bikes, and don't have space for any more.

Wow six bikes!  Do you like the technical and tinkering side of cycling?
Yes, and no. I struggle with bike maintenance and often end up taking to shop. I love it when bike works well; but when it doesn't, I'm not very good at making it work.

Does this mean you give up training during the winter, or maybe just taking it a little easier?
I do more miles, but less intensity.

What is the greatest highlight or achievement from your cycling career so far? 
2011 was a good season winning 20 races out of 30. Also finishing 4th in National 100 Mile TT championship (2005) and national hill climb (2010) was good, and hopefully one day will be able to finish a little higher too!

Do you have an embarrassing moment you would care to share on my blog? 
Plenty. Like the time I took by bike 200 miles north, jumped on bike, started pedalling and realised the pedals were back in Oxford. Or the time I forgot front wheel. I also once forgot my helmet when visiting parents, but my mother likes me to ride one. So I spent a few days training in Yorkshire with my aero time trial helmet, which looks silly at the best of times, but especially when riding through the middle of towns.

My kids want me to ask you a question.  What's your record speed?  Have you ever been stopped for speeding?
I've gone over 50mph a few times down from fleet moss in the Yorkshire Dales. It's great fun. Can't say I've ever been stopped for speeding. 

My own blog touches on staying fit to maintain my physical and mental health, especially dealing with the pressures of work.  Does this strike a chord with you at all?
Yes, I think cycling is good for both mind and body. I spend a lot of time working on computer, and cycling provides a very good balance. You definitely notice difference when you can't go out and exercise.

Tejvan - now that's an unusual name, what's behind it?
Tejvan, is a name given to me by my spiritual teacher, Sri Chinmoy. He gave names to some of his students to reflect the qualities of their soul. Tejvan means enthusiasm, dynamism and self-giving.

Thank you.

Link to Cycling Uphill: click here

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