LOCKDOWN! Q&A with Tom Couzens (Zappi Racing)

More Lockdown stories, this time with Tom Couzens of the under 23 Zappi racing team who has suddenly found himself a full time cyclist as school was cancelled!

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LOCKDOWN! Q&A with Tom Couzens (Zappi Racing)

Tom is currently racing for the Zappi Racing team, an under 23 team with a great set up that has been a great match for him so far this season, with Flavio and Callum helping him to move up from the junior ranks.

“My original plan was to finish my A levels in June and go out to live with the team in Italy full time for the remainder of the season, however with everything that is currently going on in the world school has finished for me all very abruptly” Tom explains.

“I have now found myself as a full time cyclist which is a great feeling, being able to train properly and give my body chance to rest and recover after training and races without having to worry about what school work needs doing. Pedal potential have been helping me for the last year and a half with funding which has enabled me to race at the level I am at currently. For the current time being I am based in Oxfordshire with my family but hoping to get out to Italy with the team as soon as possible.

Your last race?
Tom: Well so far this season, I have actually only done two races, the first being Coppa SAN Geo a Italian National which I did when I was out with the team over my February half term at school. It was a great experience to race my first Italian under 23 race and help out the team by going back to get bottles from the team car, helping them with positioning in the bunch and so on, but the legs just didn’t have any gas that day and unfortunately couldn’t make it to the end.

The second was the Severn Bridge road race, a National B down near Bristol, things went better for me there getting into many of the days breaks on the exposed and windy circuit trying to get away from the chasing bunch, but with too many of my matches burnt, again I lacked the legs to do anything outstanding at the end of the race. However with all the races in the UK being cancelled to the end of June, and with a similar situation in Italy it has given me a chance to rest up and recover, effectively taking a 2 week off season to prepare my body for the build up towards the start of the season again whenever that may be.

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With racing cancelled, what’s a typical week training wise for you?
Tom: With school finished and more time on my hands, it has given me a good opportunity to mix up my training and add some variety into it all which has been good fun. With no definite idea of when racing will start again, I am just building things up slowly.

So a typical week would currently consist of around 10 hours on the bike. This includes maybe a few two hour rides and maybe a longer ride or two to build up the base endurance again with some rawvelo bars and hydration powder to get me through and help with the morale of all the solo riding. In addition to some riding, I have added some running into my training so this week I have done two 30 minute runs as well as some yoga and strength and conditioning exercises.

Enjoying the turbo or avoiding it like the virus?
Tom: So far I have managed to avoid the turbo as much as possible. I would much prefer to do my rides outside in the fresh air along the country roads either in the Chilterns or Cotswolds. Saying that, I have done a couple of sessions on the rollers just before breakfast to work on cadence and leg speed.

If on the turbo what’s your favourite distraction?
Tom: Zwift is good fun if I have efforts to do or to ride with other people, but I tend to head towards putting on a movie if the session isn’t too strenuous.

What’s the hardest thing about being on lockdown?
Tom: The hardest thing I am finding is having no races to aim towards or build up to.

Besides cycling, what’s your biggest distractions as lockdown continues?
Tom: We have a seven month old working cocker spaniel who has seemed to enjoy having everyone at home all day to fuss him and take him out on walks over the fields which has been a good source of distraction. In addition to that, I have also had the chance to read a couple of books that I have been meaning to read for a number of months, or in fact years, and be able to settle down and watch a couple of movies. If anyone has any book or movie recommendations I am open to ideas.

What’s the bike that gets the most use by you and why?
Tom: For the second season in a row I am riding Holdsworth Bikes, this season it being the Superlight Holdsworth Disc model which I love. Being the first road bike I have had with hydraulic disc brakes. It has taken a little getting used to, but I love how they feel now, with the amount of extra stopping power they provide compared to rim brakes especially in wet conditions.

They also provide a very aggressive geometry which makes them perfect for racing as I am able to carry a far greater amount of speed through the corners thanks to the low front end and manoeuvre my way up through the bunch ready for the climbs, descents or whatever else the course may offer. It’s also my first year riding with power and the FSA carbon powerbox’s that we have on our Holdsworth’s seem to be brilliant and have had a massive impact on improving my training.

What’s the weirdest thing you have experienced since the crises began?
Tom: How quiet everywhere it is, with so little cars on the roads and planes in the sky it feels weird just riding along and only being able to hear the wind in your hair and birds in the trees, but I am not complaining I definitely could get used to it.

Where do you enjoy riding the most?
Tom: I really enjoyed riding out in the hills in Italy around San Marino, with the amount of different little roads to explore, the options for routes were endless and there were some amazing views out over the hills with the sun beating down and clear blue skies. Closer to home in the UK, I really enjoy the Lake District and Cotswolds for the scenery and winding country lanes.

Thanks Tom and good luck when you get to racing. 

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