LOCKDOWN! Q&A with Matt Ellis (Saint Piran)

Chat with young rider for Cornish team Saint Piran, Matt Ellis based in the small Lincolnshire town of Spalding – maybe one of the best places to be during the outbreak as it’s in the middle of nowhere.

LOCKDOWN! Q&A with Matt Ellis (Saint Piran)

Chat with young rider for Cornish team Saint Piran, Matt Ellis based in the small Lincolnshire town of Spalding – maybe one of the best places to be during the outbreak as it’s in the middle of nowhere.

Your last race was?
Matt: I rode my first and possibly last race of the season at the Roy Thame Cup the other week in which team mate Ollie Maxwell won. Before that my last road race was the Tour cycliste Pays De Gex-Valserine Elite National in the French Alps last September. I returned back to my Cyclocross roots a bit this winter after a season off. This was because I had done every round of the national series through Under 14 and Under 16 as well as travelling across to Europe a lot as a junior: I think my parents needed a break from it all. So Lincolnshire league Cyclo-cross was the final race before the road season started.

With racing cancelled, what’s a typical week training wise for you?
Matt: For me generally I do a three day block followed by a rest day and then another three day block. Normally they would include at least 1 x 4-5 hour endurance day and 2 x 3-4 hour days with mixed intervals whether it be some mixed zone 3, a bit of sweetspot or some VO2/Capacity intervals.

Now, however, I’ve reduced the volume a bit. Normally I would do an hour long zone 2 “warm up” but I’ve cut that down now and try to get the intervals done in 90 mins to 2 hours. I’ll throw in a few double days now, with an easy 1.5 hour spin in the morning and some sort of turbo session/ Zwift race in the evening to replace endurance riding.

I’d normally go to the gym 1-2 times a week just for some light mobility work. I have never been a big fan of heavy squats and stuff as I find it damages my legs so much that I can’t do my on bike work properly which is where I find I get the most gains. Now they’re closed I add in some online HIIT like sessions from my local Everybody’s Gym or my dad will set me some “flight deck drills” referring to what he would use to do in the Navy.

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Enjoying the turbo or avoiding it like the virus?
Matt: If there was no other option, I’d hop on the turbo. Generally throughout the winter, I’d go out unless it was particularly wet mixed with cold air. Or if it’s pretty windy as it was recently. Living round here is extremely exposed on the fen roads, so riding into a 45mph headwind is like riding up an alpine climb at 15kph. I always find the first session back on the turbo the worst, getting adapted to the indoor heat again especially coming out of the winter months. After that I enjoy the turbo a lot but nothing really beats being out on the road and being exposed to the elements. I think if time was more limited or we go into a stricter lockdown, I’d definitely be fine with riding on the turbo more often.

If on the turbo, what’s your favourite distraction – Zwift or some other entertainment?
Matt: Yeah, Zwift would be my main distraction. I’ve done a few races before on there and am looking forward to getting stuck into a few more over the coming weeks. I do normally blast some tunes from the wireless speaker too, just to annoy the family.

What’s the hardest thing for you about the Lock Down
Matt: The hardest bit is planning your days and planning the next coming months. Normally you’d have something to look forward to at a weekend or even just have a few little jobs to do, places to go and people to meet. Inevitably, a lot of time is spent on mobile phones or Netflix, which after a period of time is not overly healthy. Also the uncertainty of if we really are going to race again this season is quite hard. Taking a year out of your life to try and make it to the next step for the chance to be taken away is not the most motivating thing in the world. On the other hand I wouldn’t have got my money’s worth at university anyway. The first thing really to get stopped in this outbreak was sporting events so really at the end of all this, the last thing to be allowed again will be sport. Maybe Cyclo-cross will be even more popular this season.

Besides cycling, what’s your biggest distraction as lock down continues?
Matt: Since this lockdown has begun there’s been number of things to keep me distracted really. Of course like many others I religiously sit down at 5pm every evening expecting the impending doom of not being allowed to ride outside anymore but apart from that I’ve learnt a few new skills; Juggling being one of them. I’ve started learning a bit of Spanish on Duolingo and have even been getting a few of my old biology books out in case I do finally decide to start university this September. It’s looking much more likely now especially looking at the way this season is going. The Xbox 360 has been dusted down and I’ve been playing some household favourites such as Fifa 12. I have come to the conclusion that multiplayer Call of Duty is quite dull on your own without being online .

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Having to ride solo – new or used to it?
Matt: 9/10 at the moment I’m solo apart from when I drag my Dad round for a few hours. Those rides are normally the ones that turn into races. Back in normal times, before corona, I;d try and go out with someone for an endurance ride. There was always a good mix of people to go out with, like I’d go for a ride with Ali Slater quite a lot, or the Sunday Spalding club run but a lot of the time however I’d be out solo. Especially when I’m doing something specific like sweetspot efforts, it’s quite hard to ride with someone else as every ones zones are different.

Last year when I was living alone near Lyon, I’d spend pretty much all of my time riding solo. Sometimes it’s nice to have a bit of company to push you on a bit. I always find rides with someone else end up bringing you on the most, because you’re always just pushing on that bit more than when you’re alone. It was quite nice however some days to just explore on your own or suffer in peace.

What’s the weirdest thing you have seen since this crisis began
Matt: Aliens? On a clear night if you look around there’s lots of bright flashing lights in the sky that look like they’re also flashing some red and green lights. Then they’d fade, disappear and return bright again. They’ve been spotted across the country. Who knows, could be aliens, and could be some sort of tracking drones or maybe I’m overthinking; it could just be stars.

Finally, at home or AWOL
Matt: At home and that is where I shall stay unless partaking in my one form of daily exercise or if I’m sent to get my essential food from the supermarket.


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