The Local Riders Q&A continues with Russell Downing, who is quite literally a very local rider. Born in Rotherham (my hometown) Russell's pro career started back in 1999 and has ridden for a number of notable teams including Linda McCartney, CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta, Team Sky, Edura Racing and this year (along with his brother Dean) he will be riding for new outfit - NFTO Pro Cycling.
'Fonzy' was British National Road Race Champion in 2005 and other notable results from a great career so far include the Tour de Wallonie (2010) and the Tour of Ireland (2009).
As a racing cyclist, which results are you most proud of and why?
Winning the National Road Race Championships.
Winning Tour of Ireland because of the conditions and the teams I beat.
Becoming the 1st British rider to win a race for Team Sky (Stage of Crit International).
Which are your favourite stretches of road to ride on locally and what is it that you like about them?
The Strines towards Sheffield; I just love the views and road whatever the weather.
The same question for roads anywhere in the world?
Would probably have to be any road with the ocean to one side of me. It feels so special.
What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling?
Would probably say the Tour of Ireland because it proved to a lot of people that I was capable of beating the worlds best riders and it got my contract at Team Sky.
Has racing affected your relationship with the bike? If so, how?
I don’t think so, I still love the bike and always will.
Do you agree with Mickey Goldmill's advice to Rocky that 'women weaken legs'?
I don’t agree with it but it’s a great saying and the Rocky movies are a great motivator.
We are in the midst of a well publicised boom in cycling in the UK atthe moment. Has it affected you? Do you have any thoughts about why it has happened and whether it will continue? Do you see any negatives to the increase in popularity?
Cycling is at high at the moment and its great to still be part of it , I just wish I was 10 years younger so I get more out of my career .more people on bikes is surley good for healthy living and making people fitter.
All cyclists, whether they race or not, seem to obsess over the weight of their bikes. Why do you think this is?
Probably because the fitter and lighter you are the better you will go on your bike. Power to weight ratio etc.
Do you approach riding, or ride your bike, differently now to when you first got into cycling?
Yeah a little bit but not loads. I just used to ride my bike whenever and with whoever, but know I have more structure and specific training for big goals and races during my season.
Who has been your favourite pro riders over the years and why?
Would have to be Sean Kelly as he was a true racer and I've been very privileged over the years to become friends with him, which is great.
What was you favourite era of professional bike racing?
I would have to say the current era is the best.
Do you think Bradley Wiggins looks cool despite his long socks or because of them?
Longs are cool and we started them before Brad, back on Team GB with Jamie Alberts , Charly Wegalius and Tom Southam.
Do you enjoy a cafe stop or do you prefer to ride straight round?
I like to train when training and have coffee stops on easy days.
Assos, Rapha or neither?
Do you prefer to get your head down on the A6, keep a good tempo going on the B roads or get onto the back wacks? What about the rough stuff on your road bike?
I'd always choose the back-wacks as its safer and normally better roads. Save the rough stuff for the mountain bike.
What do you think about Strava?
Only used it once, I'd get addicted if I used it more.
What do you think about Sportive rides?
They are growing in strength and are a great way of getting all abilties of riders on bikes and to challenge them.
Do you have any cycling pet hates?
People on bikes not wearing helmets. Stay safe folks.
The benefits of spinning a low gear compared to mashing a high gear is often discussed. Putting aside the serious, physiological and mechanical aspects, what cadence you think looks right?
90 to 100rpm is probably a good cadence.
White, black or coloured socks?
White for sunny days black for rainy days.
What do you like to talk about when you are on a ride with friends/team/club mates? Do you prefer to keep the subjects lightweight or get your teeth into something contentious or controversial?
Normally short and sweet on the bike, get the job done.
Who would be/is your perfect tandem partner? Would you ride captain or stoker?
Chris Walker - I reckon he’s a beast , I'd ride back and put my feet up because he’s so strong.
Notable results from Russ Downing's career
TOUR OF OMAN
62nd TOUR OF FLANDERS
115th PARIS ROUBAIX
12th NATIONAL ROAD RACE