Here at Ribble, we love to hear from the people who ride our bikes. To find out why they ride, where they ride and what they love so much about the sport of cycling. That’s why we created ‘Real.Bike.People.’ A series dedicated to the people who matter most, you! The latest to appear in Real.Bike.People is Neil Richards, a man who spends every minute possible on his bike, whether this is in the virtual realm or out on the open road.
Which bike do you ride, why did you choose that one? What do you like about it?
I ride a Ribble Endurance SL Disc equipped with Ultegra Di2. There are loads of reasons why I chose the Endurance SL. In fact, I had a long list of criteria for a new bike and it was the only one that ticked them all. Essentially, I wanted it to suit big, hilly rides in British conditions. Comfort was key, but I also wanted it to be pretty quick. I was quite specific with some of my component choices too. Ribble gave me the flexibility to configure my bike with climbing gearing, disc brakes, and wide 28mm tubeless tires. The bike also looks fantastic which obviously matters a lot.
What got you into cycling?
Since I was young, I’ve always been into sport and I’ve always been half decent at endurance-based events. However, I got a bit lazy as I reached my 30s and I wasn’t as fit as I’d like to be. My Brother and Dad both got road bikes and that inspired me to do the same. So I decided to give it a go, to see if I could get some fitness back. It did and we still enjoy riding together whenever possible.
What is your general riding like, how many days per week, etc?
I’ve well and truly been bitten by the bug and cycle most days all year round. But I do try to have a rest day once a week. I tend to ride two long rides at the weekend, a faster outdoor club ride during the week, and 2 or 3 hard Zwift races on the other weeknights.
Favourite place to ride?
I’m quite lucky that the cycling where I live in the Charnwood Forest area of Leicestershire allows for some good and varied riding. We can also get into the Peak District quite easily which is great for longer rides with more challenging climbs. It’s also stunning on a nice day. Like a lot of other road cyclists, I head to Mallorca annually for the sunshine and great cycling roads.
Who do you mainly ride with?
I mostly ride with Poplar Cycling Club in Loughborough, who are primarily a social cycling club – rides normally end at the pub! However, there are a few decent riders in the club so we inevitably end up putting in some quite quick and hard efforts on our club rides.
I’m also part of the Race3R eRacing team on Zwift, we’re a team of 13 great guys from all over the world and we take part in most of the main races on Zwift.
Any events you plan to do?
I’ve got a few things scheduled for the next 12 months; the 300km Dragon Devil Ride sportive in South Wales, the Tour of Flanders sportive which I’ve done a few times before and love (cobbles, beer and frites), and a cycling trip to Spain with my club mates which should be great fun. My
Endurance SL disc should be perfect for all of these. I’m also hoping to enter my first road races when they start taking place again.
What are your cycling goals?
Two things really. Firstly, I want to be in decent shape for the longer and hillier rides that I’ve got planned. I’d like to enjoy them rather than endure them.
Secondly, I’m really into Zwift racing and ride for the R3R eRacing team. I take it pretty seriously, so I’d like to get better at that, which means increasing my ranking points and helping my team to be competitive in more high-profile events.
What does cycling mean to me?
Cycling is great for me to keep in shape. Zwift racing also allows me to put in some really hard efforts and also channel my competitive side.
This means that when I ride outdoors I can just focus on having a good time with my mates without feeling the need to ride full gas all of the time. It’s more about where I ride to and who it’s with.
I’m really lucky that I’ve now got two young sons who are starting to get into cycling, and I now get to ride with them which is fantastic.
What is your proudest moment in cycling?
I turned 40 last year and decided to enter ride the Mallorca 312 as it was taking place on the same day as my birthday. This was the furthest and hardest ride that I’d taken part in up until that time (312km and >4000m climbing). But with some focussed training, I was able to complete the ride in a good time. Much better than I had anticipated. I really enjoyed it and surprised myself as to what I could achieve on a bike.
If you could have the skill of any rider who would it be, and why?
I’d love to have a much better sprint, especially for my Zwift racing. My strengths are that I’m reasonably fit and a half-decent climber. I’m usually able to stay in the lead group until the last 500m of a race. But I often lose out at the end to the more powerful riders. I’d love to have a few more watts available to me, to convert my efforts into a few more wins.
Who is your favourite pro-rider and why?
I like the racers who can do it all, whether in the cobbled Spring Classics or on mountain stages in a Grand Tour. Somebody like Geraint Thomas has done both successfully.
We caught up with Ribble Weldtite Pro cycling team’s sprinter Jacob Tipper to talk all things Tour de France. Read it here.
Ribble Weldtite’s resident climber George Mills-Keeling tells us to ‘ride hills hard’ and predicts who he thinks will clinch the jerseys in this years TdF. Read it here.
Fresh from being crowned National 10-mile TT champion Dan Bigham give us the lowdown on TT’s and his picks for the TdF. Read it here.