Local Riders Q&A - Kit Gilham

Kit Gilham has been a racing cyclist for 10 years. His previous teams include Clifton CC, Kinesis UK, Sigmasport Specialized, Herbalife, Metaltek Knights of Old and is currently riding for KTM road-and-trail.com

Kit is now living in York with his wife and two children but by his own admission is "still missing living in Sheffield!".


As a racing cyclist, which results are you most proud of and why?

Winning the mountains jersey in the 2008 Irish Ras. It made me realise I could be competitive at a reasonable level. I spent the whole race constantly checking where the nearest airport was as my first child was due on the last day of therace - luckily she was born five days after it finished!

I'm also proud to have won the Yorkshire Div Champs - definitely the hardest divs inthe (God's own) country.


Which are your favourite stretches of road to ride on locally and what is it that you like about them?

In the Peak District I love some of the long, iconic climbs like Holme Moss and Snake Pass because they're as close as you can get to proper Tour de France climbs in the UK. The long descent down Mam Nick and Edale with a tailwind is great too and the ridge road up from Windmill to Sir William Hill has fantastic views over Eyam and the Hope Valley. Anywhere in the Peaks really!

The same question for roads anywhere in the world?

The Pyrenees, especially the Basque end. Brutal climbs, beautiful scenery, unpronounceable place names and massive vultures.

What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling?

Some of my best memories are just riding around on mountain bikes as a kid with all my mates. I can also still remember first learning to ride with my Dad running behind me holding on to the saddle and the feeling of terror and exhilaration when he let go.

Has racing affected your relationship with the bike? If so, how?

Yes it has. I used to ride only for pleasure, now some rides are definitely for training and there's not much enjoyment. Four hours in the rain holds no appeal but sometimes it has to be done. That said, I still enjoy the vast majority of my time on a bike.

Do you agree with Mickey Goldmill's advice to Rocky that 'women weaken legs'?

'Women' in the plural, perhaps, but having one woman support you is a good thing!

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?

I think the more cyclists the better, and not just racing and leisure cyclists. I'd be very pleased to see a Dutch/Danish style bike revolution where people commute, shop and take their kids to school by bicycle and car use is restricted in city centres.

All cyclists, whether they race or not, seem to obsess over the weight of their bikes. Why do you think this is?

Because alight bike makes cycling uphill easier without having to train more and eat less.

Do you approach riding, or ride your bike, differently now to when you first got into cycling?

Yes. I no longer stop at the top of every hill to get my breath back and I don't spend as much time building jumps. And I know what a Watt is.

Who has been your favourite pro riders over the years and why?

Igrew up with only a passing interest in road cycling - my heroes were Jason McRoy, Rob Warner, Missy Giove and Nico Vouilloz. When I started following the road then Indurain, Ullrich and Iban Mayo (before he got fat, slow and positive for epo). Needless to say I soon realised that having heroes in pro cycling was a shortcut to feeling betrayed and disappointed...

What was your favourite era of professional bike racing?

I enjoy watching most eras, with the proviso that a lot of what I'm seeing is entertainment rather than sport with its implications of clean-living athletic ideals.

Do you think Bradley Wiggins looks cool despite his long socks or because of them?


Mudguards, mudguards and mudflaps or racing bike with clip on guards through winter?

Full length mudguards front and rear with a flap that almost scrapes the ground. Anything less is just rude.

Do you enjoy a cafe stop or do you prefer to ride straight round?

I prefer not to stop unless it's a recovery ride, the temperature is at least 20 degrees and there's a sea view.

Assos, Rapha or neither?

I ownneither so don't feel qualified to say.

What is your favorite piece of cycling kit (either something you currently own or have in the past)?

The first pair of SPD shoes I got for my mountain bike. They were Nike Ngubas in some fairly lurid early 90s colours and they revolutionised my cycling, once I'd stopped falling off at every set of traffic lights.

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 like a bit of everything, it depends on what kind of ride it is. I'm always happy to be shown new roads and back wacks I didn't know about - I like to build up a mental map of an area so I have multiple route choices rather than riding the same few roads over and over. The old road up Mam Tor is a good one for a bit of everything, I can usually get up on a road bike without dabbing.

What do you think about Strava?

Use it if you want but remember: it's not racing.

What do you think about Sportive rides?

Great for challenging people to stretch themselves and to train for something they wouldn't normally do.

Do you have any cycling pet hates?

People who come on group rides in the winter on their summer bike with no mudguards.

Are there any cycling traditions that you think have been, or are being, lost as a result of changing attitudes and behaviour? And are we better off or worse off as a consequence?

I don't think I've been around long enough to comment - the cycling clubs near me seem more popular than ever, still mostly full of grumpy old men but maybe that's changing?

Cotton cap or helmet?

Cotton cap unless racing or mountain biking.

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?

I think it's more to do with what the upper body is doing, so as long as you can sit still without rocking your head, shoulders or pelvis then any cadence from hummingbird to albatross.

White, black or coloured socks?

Not black. And neither too long nor too short.

Frame pump or mini pump?

Frame pump. My arms aren't strong enough to get more than about 40psi with a mini pump.

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?

I enjoy discussing almost anything whilst out riding. It's a great way to not notice the miles and maybe learn something new. The people I ride with are at best erudite, at worst opinionated and always garrulous so I just have to nod in the right places.

Who would be/is your perfect tandem partner? Would you ride captain or stoker?

I tried a tandem with the wife a few years ago, it was a nightmare! We wanted to pedal different cadences and she didn't agree with my braking point before each corner. So not her. Maybe Malcolm Elliott if he'd let me - I'd ride stoker because I trust his handling skills, his was always a good wheel to follow downhill: fast but safe.

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