Wednesday 13 February 2013

I get to Interview 'Dr Hutch' - Michael Hutchinson, Double Brompton World Champion

To many Bromptonians reading this blog Michael Hutchinson, 'Dr Hutch' (due to his PhD in International Human Rights law) needs no introduction. He is a double Brompton World Champion - 2011, 2012. He also represented Britain and Northern Ireland at many events including the Commonwealth Games.

There are of course many other strings to his bow. As a writer and journalist his column in 'Cycling Weekly' is very popular and frequently brings a smile to my face. A published author, his book 'The Hour' won Best New Writer at the 2007 British Sports Book Awards.

I asked Michael a few questions and very kindly in the middle of all the other things he must be busy doing, he agreed to answer them. Below are my questions and Michael's responses.

1 What sort of Brompton bikes do you own? (Colour, gearing, handlebar type…)

I've got a black S2lx, a black and white S2l, and the S6l with the custom Vic Lee paint job that was the prize for BWC in 2011. I do 80% of my riding on the S2lx.

2 As a double Brompton World Champion you quite rightly won two of your Brompton bikes but what made you originally buy a Brompton?

Actually I won the first one I owned. Brompton offered it as a prize at road bike event at the first Bike Blenhein. The only one I've ever bought was a red and green S2l for my partner.

3 How does the Brompton World Championships compare with other cycling events you have participated in?

It's pretty different -- most events are a bit more formal, but normally a lot smaller in terms of rider numbers. There's a much greater variety of rider -- some BWC competitors are there for a different kind of a day out, some are deadly serious, and there are any number of different approaches in between. BWC is quite a lot more fun than most events.

4 I have taken part in two Brompton World Championships with the belief that I might win. What advice would you give to the many Bromptonians out there who are going to enter the Brompton World Championships or other events like the IG Nocturne Folding Bike Race?

I don't really prepare specially, I just use the fitness I have from my other racing. If you want to take any sort of race seriously, I suppose it would mainly be about getting out and getting the training done, and making sure you do at least some fast riding on the Brompton.

5 Before a Brompton World Championships how do you prep your bike?

I clean it. I take the mudguards off, but i do that during the summer anyway. I don't want to prepare the bike specially, because I like that I'm using exactly the same standard Brompton that I ride round London.

6 How did you make the jump from the legal profession to being a writer?

It was via being a pro cyclist for a few years. I didn't plan to give up law, I always intended to go back after a few seasons of racing, but while I was racing I found I was quite regularly asked to do bits for magazines. Then I wrote a book called The Hour, which did pretty well, and that drew me into full time writing.

7 Who is your all time favourite cyclist and why?

I really don't think I would want to pick out any one individual I know so many people who put so much into cycling.

8 If you were the Prime Minister / Mayor of London for the day what would you do to make cycling safer?

Safety on a bike has a lot to do with the attitudes of other road users, which it's hard to 'fix'. A start, though, would be to sort out a lot of dreadful junctions that are just designed on the assumption that bike riders either don't exist, or will be happy to spend five minutes walking 50m round the junction.

9 When cycling / commuting on your bicycle what makes you angry?

Drivers who push past inches from your elbow when they can already see a red light 100m up the road. There are a fair number of bike riders who always push to the front when you're waiting at the lights who are't much better!

10 What is your personal proudest moment in cycling terms?

Not sure I've ever really done anything remarkable enough that I'd go around being proud of it. I'm glad that as a rider during the early 2000s I managed to find a niche where I could compete clean, so I don't have much to be ashamed of either.

11 On rare occasions (usually ascending a hill just after traffic lights) I sometimes overtake a road bike on my Brompton. Do you ever try to do the same?

Continually. I almost never ride anywhere in London without passing the odd road bike.

12 What is your favourite cycling route? Why do you like it?

I'm very fond of a route from my parents' house that goes through the Mourne Mountains in County Down. It's very bleak, especially in winter, and there are roads with almost no traffic whatsoever.

13 Your book, ‘The Hour’ is a brilliant read. What was the story behind you writing it?

Simply that I had made an attempt on the world record for the greatest distance covered in an hour. After it was over, it simply occurred to me that there was a story to be told about what went into making that sort of attempt happen, and some great stories about previous attempts that I'd come across in old magazines, or that people had told me. Full-time riding still left a fair amount of evening free, so I decided I'd write the book to see what happened.

14 Will you be defending your Brompton World Championship title and going for a third successive win in 2013? (I have to warn you, I am already in training).

I don't know where it's going to be yet, or when. If it's somewhere reasonably easy to get to, and doesn't clash with any other events I'm committed to, I'll be there.

A very big thank you to Michael for taking the time to answer my questions. I found his answers of great interest but mildly fearful of the answer to the last question. With a new Titanium Orange Brompton on the way, I really did think that 2013 would be my year. I think I had better hit the open road and start training in earnest! (Three months earlier than planned)!

'The Hour' is a great read and can be purchased as a paperback or via Kindle.

1 comment:

  1. Great read! Well done, Mr O, and thanks, Dr Hutch!


Thank you for leaving a comment.