Gabriel 'Gabz' Cullaigh is a professional cyclist currently riding for Team Wiggins. Gabz is one of many professional and elite cyclist riding and training in the vicinity of Yorkshire and The Peak District. A rider with a bright future, already this year Gabz has won the prestigious UK race the Rutland - Melton Cicle Classic and last week, the first round of the Tour Series in Redditch.
As a racing cyclist, which results are you most proud of and why?
I could go on about about a few but i'll choose two wins that stand out. First one being a win in Stage 1 of u23 Course de la Paix 2015, that was my first year senior so it was quite unexpected really but it was almost a reassurence that I can win big bike races, that result boosted my self confidence as a bike racer. I also have very fond memories of a specific moment about a minute or so after finish when one of my closest friends Mark Stewart (who was my teammate at the race) came up and asked how I got on, when I told him I won his emmense elation and pride was overwhelming, we were absolutely buzzing. Still makes me smile thinking that moment.
More recently winning the Cicle Rutland Classic is a result I'm most proud of, obviously it is a mega race and is the biggest one day race (bar ride london surrey classic which is a World Tour race) on the uk scene at the moment. I'd like to see myself specialising in one day classics as I progress in my proffesional career, so winning Rutland was a confirmation of a nod in that direction.
Which are your favourite stretches of road to ride on locally and what is it that you like about them?
Being from Holmfirth I have an absolute world class line of up of stretches of road to choose from, personally I think it doesn't get any better. So that makes this question a tough one! I enjoy a good view while riding, so for that reason Greenfield Road locally known as 'Isle of Sky' is my favourite because the way the Saddleworth moors lay then drop so suddenly down to Dovestones Resevoir is simply breathe taking. It blows my mind everytime, I always soak it in as much as I can as I ride back over to Holmfirth from Greenfield, or descend into Greenfield from Holmfrith. It's one of those few views that I don't stop looking at until the very last moment when the road sends me away from it.
The same question for roads anywhere in the world?
In Alicante region of Spain, there is a road that I wish was never ending. If you climb up out of Castells de Castells toward Tarbena, after you crest the top of that climb you are greeted with a stunning view to the right which is complimented with a smooth rolling road that you can see descends down gradually in steps, so it's a pleasant dreamy ride after the harsh climb. Then just before the road turns into a complete descent, the view there of the valley between Tarbena and 'Col de Rates' is again, incredible. Me and Joey Walker were out on a long steady winter Yomp together back in November '17, when I first experienced this road. We had no idea where we were going, but we were both taken a back when we came across it. Think I have a photo of the view that day actually...
What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling
Probably a day like the above, I have a good memory so I can recall most races, and rides. But for me days where I just go out and ride, especially on spectacular roads with good company are the ones that stand out most for me.
Has racing affected your relationship with the bike? If so, how?
In terms of how I structure riding my bike yes, esepcially in the racing season as being fresh and ready to race takes priority so I have to be careful to not overdo the hours being put it as it's a fine balance. Then in winter I am stringing together plenty hours of basically just riding the bike to lay the foundations for the next year. But everytime i'm out on the bike i'm reminded that I love being out in the fresh air and taking in the views just like I did when I first started venturing out on my own on the local roads. Obviously there are days when I don't want to see the bike, or I head out and I'm having a rough day out so it is those days I have to tell myself to get a grip, suck it up and enjoy it as i'm in a hell of a lucky position to be able to plan my days around riding a bike!
Do you agree with Mickey Goldmill's advice to Rocky that 'women weaken legs'?
No, imagine finishing second in a bike race and putting not winning down to spending the day with the Mrs' the day before. Personally I perform my best when i'm relaxed, and i'm most relaxed when i'm with Grace (my better half).
We are in the midst of a well publicised boom, has it affected you? Do you see any negatives to the increase in popularity?
Personally its only affected me in minor area's, I think i'd be on a similar path in my cycling career regardless. But it does mean there's more sponsors attracted, meaning more money in the sport which is a postive for everyone. Obviously the increased popularity means bigger crowds at bike races in the UK, which is mega! Tour de Yorkshire is actually ridiculous with the crowds that turn out, I'd be lying if I said that didn't make me proud to be a bike rider from Yorkshire. I think it is mostly positive the increase in popularity in cycling. Slowly but surely it'll make the roads that bit safer, but admittedly it does make me wince to think of all the new inexperienced cyclist's heading out into possibly dangerous situations on the road. That's why I think local clubs are so important so that experienced riders can pass on their knowledge and experience of safe riding to newbies. Don't be the guy that laughs at 'whoppers' because everyone has been there when we first started, and always, ALWAYS wave/nod/acknowledge fellow 2 wheel YOMPERS.
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 is because weight is the only comparable 'stat' that differing push bikes have, there is no BHP or Torque to a bike as that comes from whoever's arse is plonked upon it. Obviously stiffness, responsiveness, handling & aerodynamic's differ hugely, but they all ultimately come down to rider preference.
Do you approach riding, or ride your bike, differently now to when you first got into cycling?
Yes, like I said above riding my bike now is much more structured but I still do my best to hold on to that love for getting out to soak in the views and roads that I wouldn't know existed if I had just sat at home watching telly after school.
Who has been your favourite pro riders over the years and why?
Guys that are robust and get stuck into racing no matter what lies on the road are the ones that stand out for me. The 3 that I admire the most are Phillipe Gilbert, Greg van Avermaet and of course Peter Sagan. For the same reason, Lizzie Deignan has always been mega to watch tear up races.
What was you favourite era of professional bike racing?
80s and 90s definitely, I can't say I watched it as I was born in '96 and didn't take an interest in bike racing until 2008/09 but looking at archived photos and videos it looks like the pinnacle of the sport to me from an aesthetics point of view. The style of racing then as well was class, very aggressive but a lot of savyness, race craft and panache was needed to win... it seems!
Mudguards, mudguards and mudflaps or racing bike with clip on guards through winter?
I think everyone should at least make an attempt to get mudguards with flaps on their winter bikes, no matter what bike it is. It is a matter of respect for fellow riders and your own kit... AND it makes a huge difference when the weather is wet. I managed to get a mudguard on the back of my Pinarello f10 winter just been that was held on by fixings that were attached to the rear brake and wheel skewer. Unfortunately I couldn't fit the front mudguard on, so I was forced to accept soggy feet & shins. So in my eyes there is no excuse, if anyone finds themselves riding in front of me with no rear mudguard on a wet winter ride... then they should know I will be fuming.
Do you enjoy a cafe stop or do you prefer to ride straight round?
I love a cafe stop, but limit them when i'm on a proper training ride. But otherwise as long as the weather isn't wet, i'll always be keen to have a brew stop.
Assos, Rapha or neither?
I can only vouch for rapha as i've never had assos gear. Tao Geogehan Hart had his good friends at rapha send me a rain cape & gilet a couple years back as a thank you for looking after him through Tour of Britain, have to say I was impressed with that stuff. To be fair they both seem to have some mega looking gear. Would highly recommend Le Col stuff by the way, have you seen the Wiggins clobber!? Class.
What is your favourite piece of cycling kit (either something you currently own or have in the past)?
In this years Wiggins Le Col kit issue we got a selection of Gilet's, one of them is a thick windproof & shower proof material. It's perfect as an outerlayer for milder days and keeps the chest warm on descents, so for a day yomping in the peaks it is ideal.
Do you prefer to get your head down on main roads, keep a good tempo going on the ‘B’ roads or get onto the back-wacks? What about the rough stuff on your road bike?
Good tempo on B roads & back-wacks for me. A roads are too busy for my liking so I try limit time spent on them to a minimum. Having said that when I was on British Cycling's Academy programme living in stockport, we used to do big days out in the peaks then our normal way back from Whaley Bridge would be up the back of Brickworks or if we needed to get back quick we'd rail it down the A6, try sprint into the slipstream of the big quarry lorryss that infest that road on a week day and get sucked all the way into stockport at 30mph.
What do you think about Strava?
Love it! I've proper got into over the past year, it's light hearted but kind of deadly serious at the same time which makes it good fun. Over winter it became a platform for ripping into fellow riders, myself, Joey Walker, James Knox and Stevie Williams gave each other a right load of grief through December and January, on bloody strava! Brilliant.
What do you think about Sportive rides?
I think they're great, but shouldn't be taken too seriously! I'd like to think people do them as personal test rather than a race against others, they certainly aren't the place to be competitve and be taking risks. It's great when people use them as chairty fund raisers and social gatherings with their pals enjoying a day out on the bike together.
Do you have any cycling pet hates?
Littering. Just tragic isn't it!
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 so, the grow in popularity in the sport just means there is more people doing their own thing. I think clubs/teams and riding groups will always tend to stick to the old traditions of bike riding more or less. You could argue ZWIFT is turning people soft on bad weather days, but there will always be guys up for an epic day out in the terrential downpours/gailforce winds. Each to their own!
Cotton cap or helmet?
Personally I would not dare head out without a helmet on when out on the road, but cotton cap on at the cafe for me definitely.
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 on climbs a slighty higher cadence looks good, so 90rpm+. But on the flat if you're shifting, a lower cadence looks good accompanied by a solid core & upper body, around 75-80rpm.
White, black or coloured socks?
White & Black shoes/socks in any combination look good to me. My favourite being White on white, and Black shoes white socks. Not a fan of coloured socks.
Frame pump or mini pump?
Frame Pump, or Co2 cannisters. I hate carrying a mini pump in my pocket.
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 keep the subjects lightweight on the bike with my compadre's and save the rest for off the bike with the old man.
Who would be/is your perfect tandem partner? Would you ride captain or stoker?
Joey Walker would be perfect because we know each other so well, having said that we'd probably make each laugh and be terrible. I'd be captain, not sure Joey could handle the bike with a big youth like me on the back!