Simon Gerrans – Q&A
Wheels of Justice co-convenor Rob Eke recently interviewed Australian pro cyclist Simon Gerrans about advice for sharing the road, cycling tips and riding for Ag2r Prevoyance in greatest road race in the world, the Tour de France.
1: The road is your office, how important is it for you to have a safe road environment when training and racing.
SG: This is very important. I spend hours on the road training and competing. Safety is my first priority so I always behave in an appropriate manner and hope that other road users act in the same way.
2. What special precautions do you have to take when out training on public roads with your team, as opposed to riding alone.
SG: When riding in a group it is important to ensure you communicate to the other group members about any cautions on the road. For instance, the front riders should communicate loudly to the others when approaching intersections and when there are obstacles on the road.
The riders at the rear should communicate when larger vehicles are coming from behind. Looking out for the safety of your fellow group members is always essential out on the road.
3. How often would you ride alone on roads when training and when you do that do you have to ride differently.
SG: I usually start training each day with a couple of riders but due to our different training I end most rides solo.
It is more difficult for vehicles to notice one rider than a group so when I am on the road by myself I make an effort to ensure all vehicles know where I am. I do this by not sitting in cars blind spots and giving myself enough room on the road.
4. How do you prepare for road riding for training from country to country and do you need to make any special arrangements.
SG: We ride on the other side of the road in Europe so when I first arrive over here I take a little more caution to get used to the direction of the traffic. The same goes when going back to Australia.
5. To be visible, predictable and legal are basic riding rules for recreational and commuting bicycle riders, as a pro rider you have a lot at stake, is there any special way you enhance your visibility on the road, or is it the same always whether riding as a pro or riding with friends at home.
SG: All basic principles stay the same whether you are a Professional or recreational rider. Fortunately my Professional team’s clothing is brightly coloured and easily visible so I am best placed to be seen by other road users.
Recreational cyclists should make a conscious effort to also use equipment that is safe and easily visible.
6. You may not get the chance to train on closed roads, so you are often mixing it with local traffic, is this a problem?
SG: Of course this is not a problem. The only opportunity I get to make use of closed roads is during competition therefore the majority of my time spent on the road is with other road users.
7. Do you have a preference for types of roads where you can concentrate on your training outputs or are all roads the same and demand the same from you and the team in concentration and observation.
SG: Where possible I try to find quieter roads especially when I need to do specific training.
8. We see accidents happen a lot during races when riders get tired or lose concentration, how do you manage to keep your concentration on long and/or hard rides?
SG: A large part of being able to stay concentrated and alert is your nutrition. I make a conscious effort to ensure my energy requirements are always met.
9. Your experience riding the Tour de France in 2006 is something very few Australians get to do. Do you feel this experience impacted on your beliefs about cycling as a life choice for health, and transport options rather than a sport and career driver?
SG: I am fortunate to be a Professional cyclist and compete in the Tour de France therefore cycling is my sport, career and passion. At the end of my professional career I’m sure I will continue to ride in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
10. The Etape du Tour is a huge event and draws thousands of participating fans to the Tour to ride along with you in a unique way , did you see first hand how this can impact on the fans who ride and is it an attraction to bring more recreational riders off their couches.
SG: The Etape du Tour is an excellent opportunity providing recreational cyclists with an insight into the Tour de France.
The Etape du Tour is conducted a couple of days before the TdF tackles the course so I don’t get the chance to see the impact first hand, however the same system is used in Australia at the Herald Sun Tour and the Tour Down Under and family and friends have said it is a great idea.
11. What would you say to a young person who is about to get their first bike and wants to be a confident rider on the road.
SG: I would suggest that they find a riding partner who is more experienced and can help them get used to road situations and rider etiquette.
12. What would you say to an adult rider who has never ridden much but wants to get into fitness and is told “cycling” is good for you?
SG: I would suggest that they go for it and stay safe.
13. In closing , we read of many riders being injured and killed by collisions with vehicles. Do you have a word for all riders, drivers and regulators to help ease the road toll and encourage all to share the road.
SG: All road users should be respectful of others and obey the law. If everybody had this attitude, then the road would be a much safer place.