Local Riders - Dave Coulson

There is a strong professional and elite amateur racing cyclist contingency in and around the Peaks with a number of riders and ex-riders living in both the Sheffield and Rotherham area. Dave Coulson is one of them.

Dave was born and raised in Sheffield and moved to the continent at the age of 20 to race. This is where he "grew up a lot and was very
often hungry". He continued to race at elite level in the UK and Europe for close to 20 years. Dave has recently moved into team management after retiring from the racing scene at the end of 2010. He is also a now a husband and father, with a 3 year old daughter and still lives and rides his bike (although slower) in Sheffield.

We asked Dave some questions about his racing career and how this has changed his view of the bike.

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

I was never a prolific winner,being a bit of a climber.so some of the results which meant most to me weren't wins.of the wins,winning British masters champs was a good 1. Other memorable results would include a few good rides in Italy and Spain,top 10 at the elite British rr champs and a few top 20s there too.
Which are your favourite stretches of road to ride on locally and what is it that you like about them?

Tricky. I like the main route through clumber park. It's a tree lined road,and in autumn it's beautiful. The Peak District has so many great roads,but surprise has always been a favourite. Perhaps since I was a kid and I likened it to a TDF col.
The same question for roads anywhere in the world?
This is easier. The 19k climb to Castellina in Chianti,or the twisty side up to Voltera, both in Tuscany. Both nice climbs with great views.
What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling?
That is very difficult to answer. I have memories which evoke strong emotions, both good and not so good.
Some of my fondest memories are of riding in support of team mates. What a rider can experience through riding for team mates is quite profound. Enduring unquestionable physical and mental suffering is not an everyday thing. This is often the foundation of what become very strong friendships. The level of trust and appreciation is very rewarding.
Has racing affected your relationship with the bike? If so, how?
This is a very grown up Question..

Racing and trying to be a serious rider for 2 decades has unavoidably affected my relationship with the bike. During a riders racing career he becomes pretty obsessive and the level of comittment to improving as an athlete is something out of the ordinary.
This commitment and what it brings, makes cycling 'training', and not just 'bike riding'. Enjoyment is replaced by satisfaction, relief and pressure, often largely self imposed. I've known very good riders fall out of love with cycling after reaching a point at which they feel they've given too much for too little in return. This is often down to the historically rocky and exploitative nature of sponsorship and unscrulous team managers. Also the ever present knowledge that you are often racing against doped riders.
I'm gradually getting back some of the simple pleasure I found in cycling years ago. If I can offer some advice,for most riders cycling is something of an escape from the 9-5 grind of work and the responsibilities of having a family. Don't take cycling too seriously, remember why you do it. Obsess about enjoying cycling. 
Do you agree with Mickey Goldmill's advice to Rocky that 'women weaken legs'?
Yes, you'll never be a contender if you got women around. Seriously, I don't think so. I know a few riders who'd tell you sex helps.
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 feel that cycling has become something that's now perceived as lees of a minority sport. Cycling is a sport which suffers from some snobbery. Not in the typical sense, but often amongst seasoned riders, be they serious racers or club riders, new cyclists are sometimes snubbed simply for not being aware of the nuances and etiquette within road cycling. All riders will know someone like this, a guy that sneers at the" newby" especially if they are young and fast.
I dont see any negative results of the increase in road cycling popularity. More cyclists can only improve awareness of cyclists amongst other road users and having spoken with several cyclists, I do think we saw I noticeable change in drivers behaviour towards cyclists on the back of Wiggins tour and Olympic success, with many drivers giving more room passing cyclists and generally being more considerate.
All cyclists, whether they race or not, seem to obsess over the weight of their bikes. Why do you think this is?
I guess it's the fact that the majority of road bike riders, wrongly or rightly, associate riding with some level of competition or at least maximising potential. Whether that takes the form of beating their times for regular routes ridden or winning a sprint for a village sign on a club run.

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

Absolutely yes. When I was racing,cycling was training. When I first started riding , everyday on the bike was fun. Since stopping racing I'm trying to get back some of that fun. I try to get on the bike with different people. When I was training I tended to train with the same few people or alone. Although training with Chris Walker was often a good laugh. We had a great training group for quite a few years.

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

I always liked Carlos Satre. He seemed to have had a tough career at times, but achieved a lot and made the most of his abilities. His tour win was evidence of this,in the midst of team politics he grabbed the tour from his team mate Frank Schleck, a guy I raced with in Italy, a real cool bloke. 

What was you favourite era of professional bike racing?
Probably late 80's. I think that's due to me being so young and watching tv and reading Winning magazine in awe of the likes of Roche, Herrara,Kelly et al. In time I learned more about the sport and lost that romantic hero worshipping perspective. Not for those or any other riders specifically.

Do you think Bradley Wiggins looks cool despite his long socks or because of them?
Inspite of the over long BLACK socks, I think he's pretty cool, I think some would consider him a little contrived. I'd much rather see kids looking up to Wiggins than the typical prima-donna footballers.

Comments on this post (2)

  • Sep 07, 2018

    Just had a few rides with David Coulson in the Alpes Maritime near Venice. A pleasure and a privilege. Learned more in a few minutes than the last nine years since I took up cycling in retirement.
    Now a confirmed Cycling Sheffield supporter in spite of coming from the other side of the Pennines!

    Best wishes to Dave and the team.


    — David Whittle

  • Feb 27, 2014

    I have known Dave since I was 9 years old his dedication to bikes is incredible, since the grifter days he did it up in BMX parts then BMX itself through to road biking.
    He has been helped along the way by his amazing wife Alison they are a beautiful family and I am very luck to have them as my friends.
    Dave lives and breathes cycling top top lad.

    — Andrew

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