Sessions with Andrew Hill
In the next of my series with athlete’s, I managed to catch up with Andrew Hill before his hectic Mountainbike schedule kicked into full swing for 2015. We hit the hills around Kloof for some action, although the nice morning sunrise let us down a bit, we managed to have some fun, with a little chat at the end.
Andrew Hill is an accomplished mountain bike rider, having won numerous races in and around South Africa. From single stage races such as Wartburg Classic, Sharks Stihl Mountainbike Classic to multi-stage races such as Dusi2C, Marriot Freedom Race and 3 Mountains Stage Race, he has taken the winner’s podium on many occasions, securing a spot as one of the top riders in SA mountainbike racing. It was good to get out into the mountains and get some classic images of Andrew.
Sessions with Andrew Hill:
Anthony: How did you get into cycling?
Andrew: When I was injured playing hockey, I needed a winter sport so I got into cycling as my alternative winter sport. I started enjoying cycling more and more, so I gave up on my cricket and took up cycling full time.
Anthony: What equipment are you using now?
Andrew: I am sponsored by Scott, for my bike’s, for this year! For short races I use a hardtail bike, and for stage/bumpy marathon races I use a dual suspension bike. I also have a good sponsorship from N-Squared who supply helmets, shoes and saddles etc.
Anthony: What race distances do you prefer? Also, do you prefer single-day or stage races?
Andrew: I enjoy the longer races, and in particular, the stage races, as I think it is more of a tactical event. Longer races, or stage days, can be anything from 70km to 120km per day is what I enjoy.
Anthony: Team TIB is mainly just yourself?
Andrew: Yes! I am the main pro rider on the team, but we do have a couple of guys that join on when we do stage races. Guys from other teams or independent guys, and juniors, do join on but I run with the brand at the front and then the other guys join in behind the scenes to keep the brand out there. Creating a larger team requires a bigger budget, in order to get more pro riders on board, it then needs managers etc. so at the moment we run with it as is and we get the exposure we need on the local scene.
Anthony: Training schedule, a brief insight?
Andrew: Training is usually every day of the week, if I have a race i usually rest on a Monday. So it is usually 6-7 days a week on the bike, which relates to about 30-35hr weeks if I am training for big races, and down to about 10hrs a week for the shorter races. We also did a bit of gym work at the beginning of the season, but then shifted to more bike work. Some guys also do a bit of cross-training work, or running but otherwise mostly bike work.
Anthony: What has been your favourite race to date?
Andrew: This is a hard one, but the one race I really enjoyed from the aspect of true mountainbiking, is the Imana Wildride. Basically really for the scenery and comraderie between the riders. You are racing but not really racing, just enjoying the ride itself.
Anthony: What has been the toughest race you have ever ridden?
Andrew: There was one SA Champs down in Cape Town, in September, where from start to finish, it was 3-5 degrees each day, raining all the time. So what should have been 4.5hrs of racing, turned into 6.5hrs of racing, so it was one that definitely scarred me for life!
Anthony: Any international races planned?
Andrew: I went over to race in Dubai and Oman this year, there was a 5-day stage race called the Trans-Hajar, but otherwise for the rest of the year, probably nothing. Maybe some other “local” races such as the Namib Quest or Lesotho Sky but otherwise nothing else.
Anthony: What is planned for 2015?
Andrew: I want to consolidate and up my game in terms of training, consolidate racing on the local scene and create more credibility on the national scene and keep my name up there on the top ranks amongst the cyclists.
Anthony: Advice for someone wanting to get into cycling?
Andrew: I think linking up with a crew of like-minded cyclists, getting involved with group is always the easiest way of doing it. There are always active groups going out from places like Giba, or even from your local bike shop. You will find your footing this way, find people with similar interests and fitness levels, and then as you improve, there will always be stepping stones to the next group, or a faster group. But if you are serious about cycling, you will have to spend more time on your own training, looking at the specifics & looking at intervals, in this respect it becomes a bit of an individual sport.
Thanks Andrew for your time and good luck for the year ahead! See you out on the trails ….