This is the first in an occasional series where I'll interview elite athletes in the world of adventure sports. First up is Jason Miles who, when he's not working as an Project Manager for Manchester-based IT firm JMC IT, has built up a successful career as a competitive endurance mountain bike racer.
Jason started mountain bike racing in 2006 in a team of four at Sleepless in the Saddle. He found he hated getting out of his sleeping bag to do a lap so decided to ride solo in future. Since then, Jason's amassed an enviable record, both in the UK and abroad, whilst competing in long-distance, mountain bike marathon and 24 hour mountain bike races. This includes;
- Solo winner - 2014 Mountain Mayhem
- Solo and single speed winner - 2014 Strathpuffer 24 hour Mountain Bike Race
- Solo winner - 2013 Bontrager TwentyFour12
- Solo and single speed winner - 2013 Strathpuffer 24 hour Mountain Bike Race
- First place - 2013 Relentless 24
- Single speed winner - 2012 Strathpuffer 24 hour Mountain Bike Race
- Joint winner and 1st veteran solo - 2012 Relentless 24
- 2nd elite / overall - 2012 24 Hour Solo World Championship
- Overall and Vets Solo Winner - 2011 Relentless 24
I spoke to Jason about his mountain biking as he prepared to compete in the 2014 WEMBO Solo 24 Hour World Mountain Bike Championships which are being held in Fort William, Scotland. (Update - Jason finished in 6th place).
Q1: What attracts you most to your sport?
Jason: I love riding my bike and I love the training for these races – it’s not quite “just go out and ride your bike a lot” but it’s pretty close! I’m fitter at 43 years old than I’ve ever been in my life and I’ve met a lot of amazing people in this sport that over the years have become good friends. So it ticks a number of boxes.
Q2: What's your training programme and how do you fit this in around your work?
Jason: I’m not going to give away too many secrets, but the volume of training, while it’s high, isn’t perhaps as heavy as you might think and with a full time job and two small children it’s a good job. I remember winning a 24 hour solo race once despite not riding for longer than 4 hours in one go in the preceding 3 months. I wouldn’t do that again because in my head I didn’t feel that I’d prepared well enough, but as long as you’re prepared to get out of bed early, you have an understanding partner and you’ve got some structure to the training, you can achieve plenty.
Q3. What's your diet?
Jason: Unsurprisingly, it’s a healthy diet with very little in the way of processed food and saturated fat. Lots of green vegetables and fruit. Apart from the week after a 24 hour race when my diet largely consists of pies, chips and beer.
Q4. Who do you admire most in your sport?
Jason: There’s plenty of people in this sport who I look up to – inspirational 24 hour solo riders such as Ant White, Rich Rothwell, Matt Page and Ricky Cotter. There are too many to list here though. This sport is so hard and the rewards for success are tiny really so anyone that turns up to do a 24 hour race prepared and ready to give it 100%, regardless of their chances of success is a winner in my eyes and has earned my utmost respect.
I’ve never understood the approach that you see some people take at these things where they’ll do a couple of laps then go to bed for a bit, do another lap, finish and go home. It’s a 24 hour race – you can do well if you at least ride slowly for 24 hours. Why not leave the social part until afterwards? Each to their own though.
Q5. What's next for you?
Jason: After the WEMBO race, I’ll have a rest, dabble in a few local cyclocross races, get the miles in over winter and maybe I’ll be tempted to race at the Strathpuffer again. Next year? We’ll see.
(October 2014 update - What Jason didn't mention above was he had recently broken the world record for cycling the farthest on a tandem in 24 hours, with motorbike racer Guy Martin).
Jason Miles is currently supported by;