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Sir Chris Hoy: 'I love riding my bike too much to walk away from it'

Jack Elton-Walters
12 Oct 2018

Sir Chris Hoy talks training, weight lifting, writing books and the future of Evans Cycles

'My squat PB was 240kg, I squatted 210 last week though so I’m still squatting,' Sir Chris Hoy tells me on a sunny morning in London's (still?) trendy Shoreditch.

Five and a half years since he announced his retirement from professional cycling, the six-time Olympic gold medallist is hardly slowing down.

'I’ve got a squat rack at home and with PureGym [where Sir Chris is a brand ambassador] I get access to any in the country, so if I'm away working I can pop in and do a session as they’re open 24/7.'

No comeback planned

He's also used to being asked about his training regime despite being retired.

'People are like "why are you doing that? You’re an idiot" but you can do a little bit of strength training,' he laughs. 'The hard part is gaining the strength but once you’ve got the strength you can maintain it with a small volume but high intensity.'

Just how long he intends to keep that strength is unclear. It's not just the power he's still working on, though, with turbo sessions and bike rides a key part of Hoy's week.

'I love riding my bike too much to walk away from it but I think if I didn’t do enough riding then it'd get very hard, because you remember what it felt like when you were fit,' he says.

'I can go on a velodrome now and I can go round relatively quickly for a short effort and it’s nice to remember that feeling, and I just enjoy it. I just feel glad that I’m in a position where I’ve done it at a high level for a number of years but I haven’t been put off.

'The memories are still there, the fun part of it is still there, the enjoyment is still there.'

It's his continued training that makes me ask a question he's become used to answering: is there a comeback on the horizon?

He laughs the idea off as his training is much more about a leading a healthy lifestyle than it is about a secret plan to be at Tokyo 2020.

'On the one hand if you’re preaching the importance of exercise and healthy living, you can’t just tell people what to do, you’ve got to lead by example and not just do it as your career but incorporate it into the rest of your life,' he says.

Looking at Sir Chris, he still looks every bit the Olympian, avoiding the pitfalls of no longer having to turn down a beer or second helping of chips.

A bit of mind space

But it's the impact of exercise that can't be seen that he comes back to a number of times while talking.

'I genuinely believe that you get a mental and physical benefit from exercise,' he says, and later tells me that, 'If I haven’t been out on the bike for a while I start getting twitchy, a bit grumpy. You know, the fresh air, a bit of mind space, but equally from a fitness point of view, cycling’s not like any other sport.'

Further indicating that he's not planning on letting his power and fitness deplete for a few years yet, Hoy gives another example of how cycling differs to other sports.

'If you were a tennis player, golfer or anything that was a highly skilled sport, you could do that until you were 70 or 80 and you'd beat 99% of the population.

'But with cycling it’s use it or lose it, if you don’t keep riding then you’re going to struggle. I like to feel fit, I like to go out on the bike and still get in a good ride and if I want to I can do an effort up a climb or have a little dig every now and again.'

Despite keeping his near-Olympic fitness levels, it's everything else he's doing that's taking up his time. But he's not complaining.

'I’ve probably been busier since I retired than I was when I was competing, which is quite bizarre,' he says.

We met at the launch of a De'Longhi pop-up coffee shop, a brand Sir Chris has just added to the range of brands and products he supports and is supported by.

He's turned his hand to book writing, too, but not in the usual autobiographical, superior to you all, sort of way many sportspeople tend to do after retirement.

'I’ve published a new book How to ride a bike [read our five star review here], a lot of hard work went into that, and I was delighted to see the finished books.

'It’s been pretty much a year’s worth of planning and work so to get that feeling of seeing the final copy and holding it in your hand, that’s been great.'

It's new and future cyclists the Olympian has got his eye one, with books and bikes aimed at children a passion and large part of his working times these days.

'I’m working on the bike range and the kids’ bike range in particular, plus kids’ books, I’ve got a new one Flying Fergus 9 coming out next month as well,' he says with obvious pride.

Unconcerned about Evans

Hoy Bikes are sold exclusively through Evans Cycles, a high street retailer that's found itself facing hard times recently, but Hoy isn't concerned.

'They seem pretty calm about it all,' he says of his recent contact with Evans. 'They are looking for new buyers. The retail market is pretty tricky for any industry and cycling's no different, but things are looking alright from our perspective.

'We've got a contract with Evans for five years, exclusively just with them, and it's been a great relationship so far. The products are now at a point where they are as lighter or lighter than any other bike on the market, and fractionally cheaper in price than the market leaders.'

Aware of how long we've been talking, I remember what a busy man Sir Chris is.

'I’m riding my bike, I’m in the gym, all in all I think I’m pretty flat out, and in amongst that fitting in a bit of racing in the car as well, it’s been a busy old time.'

Sir Chris Hoy teamed up with De’Longhi to launch its Espresso Way and showcase the new speedy PrimaDonna Elite coffee machine, which features the De’Longhi's innovative ‘Bean to Cup’ technology. Available from John Lewis, RRP £1,299

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