Tuesday, January 18, 2022
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Michael Hutchinson – at the World Time Trial Championship 2012

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There’s only been one winner of the Cycle Time Trials 50 mile championship in the 21st century – and that’s Ulsterman Michael Hutchinson who has won the event 13 times, straight.

We caught up with the 38 year-old who just keeps getting faster and faster, the day after the World Elite TT Championship in Limburg, where he finished 46th @ 5:22 behind Tony Martin.

In fairness to the man who this year has broken the British 10 and 25 mile records, he did have the worst of the day – cold stinging rain which made the parcours very dangerous in parts.

The conditions saw Italy’s Marco Pinotti end up in hospital after crashing on rain slick road markings.

Our first question, as befits a sport based around numbers, was about those all important stats.

Michael had the worst of the weather conditions for the time trial.

Can you list the championship wins for us please, Michael?

“You’d better check these; but I think it’s nine or ten 10 mile championships, six or seven 25 mile championships and I’ve won the 50 champs 13 times in a row – I’m the only winner, this century!

“And I’ve won the national 12 twice!

“Records-wise the 10 stands at 17:45, I broke my own record with that one; the 25 is a 45:46, that was Dave McCann’s record and the 50 stands at 1:35:27.”

How did you get into cycling?

“I was a rower when I was at Cambridge in the dim and distance past, but when I got my first ‘grown up’ job I decided I didn’t want to hang around a boat shed waiting on folk, anymore.

“I turned to running, which I quite enjoyed, but my girlfriend’s dad suggested I try cycling.

“I got into it properly when I was 24 or 25 but suppose I rode my first race when I was 23 – it wasn’t something I never intended to be good at.”

How do you maintain your motivation, year in, year out?

“I stop for five months of the year; from about now until February.

“I go out on café runs but abandon structured training completely.

“It doesn’t take me long to get fit; I guess if I did more work over the winter it would make me stronger but I don’t like going out in the bad weather and dark.

“I actually enjoy the process of getting fit, that’s where my motivation comes from, rather than thinking about winning races or setting records.”

What’s your favourite event?

“Not the ’12’ anyway! I’m baffled by how people can enjoy riding those.

“The ‘10’ is best, its fast – hit it hard and hang on.

“I like going fast, there’s not the same thrill in riding a ‘100.’

“It doesn’t have to be a big event; for example, there’s a local race, two laps of a six mile circuit – a twisty and technical 12 miles.

“I’ve always wanted to complete that course at 30 mph; I achieved that this year and it gave me a great deal of satisfaction.”

Michael Hutchinson
Michael in action in the National 25 Champs a couple of years ago. Photo©CyclingWeekly.

You look very ‘slippery’ on the bike, have you spent much time in the wind tunnel?

“I’ve spent some time, but not as much as folks think, maybe six or seven hours and that’s including doing product development stuff – not the hundreds of hours which folk say to me that I have.

“It was in the ‘Drag2Zero’ wind tunnel, working with Simon Smart who worked on the Giant Trinity and Scott Plasma time trial bikes.

“My position is comfortable, I think that most folks can only go as low as is comfortable, if they try to go too low then they start to stretch and that puts their shoulders out of place.”

What gearing do you usually ride?

“It doesn’t matter, unless it’s like yesterday where you need gears to cover all the options with the climbs and descents.

“I ride 56/44 with 11 up on a 10 speed cassette and try to keep my revs around 100 – but it’s not something I worry about.

“Guys say to me; ‘what gear were you in when you passed me?’ I reply that I’ve no idea.

“It strikes me that a lot of riders spend their whole race looking down at the block.”

What’s your take on tyres?

“I ride Veloflex tubulars but I have to pay for them myself so I don’t want to advertise them too much!

“I think I may ride clinchers, next year – I have a set of HED clincher wheels which I’ll ride them on.

“The first thing is that they’re perfectly round – even the best handmade tubs aren’t round.

“Then there’s the practical aspect of changing tyres to suit the course – it’s a lot easier with clinchers.

“And there’s the fact that you have an alloy braking surface – which is good.

“If they have latex tubs then I think they’ll be every bit as fast as tubulars.”

Tell us about your training.

“I do 90% on the road but I don’t do massively long rides – three hours would be my maximum, that’s not a lot compared to some people.

“I do it at what you’d say was a consistent pace but with specific efforts included – my coach Jamie Pringle and I play around with heart rates and power.

“I don’t do much short high intensity stuff, my high quality efforts tend to be within my road runs, but towards the end of the rides.

“I don’t actually do that much interval work, maybe five times each year with three of those as part of the build up to the 10 and 25.

“I find that if I do intervals I go over the top and off the boil.

“I find the SRM system very, very useful it lets you quantify, not guess.”

Michael Hutchinson
There are some things that time triallists just cannot share – power stats are amongst them!

What were your average watts, yesterday?

“Now that’s a secret – I have a healthy respect for my opposition and if I tell you that it lets them work out all kinds of things!”

How do you fit the bike in with working?

“I’m a freelance writer, as well as my Cycling Weekly column, I do other bits and pieces and I’m working on another book.

“I do most of my writing from 6:00 pm until 11:00 pm which allows me to do my