I'm very happy to welcome Matt to team howies.
We share the same back yard, and ride the same trails.
We will be helping him out with off the bike stuff.
Many of you will already know who Matt is and like me, you may have been lapped by him at more than a couple of races out there - but for those of you who don't know, here's an introduction in his own words -
For some people cycling is just a hobby, but for me I am extremely fortunate to be able to say that it is my job. It hasn't been easy to get where I am now and it has taken many years of hard work and dedication.
I won't bore everyone with my life history, but let's just say that I have always been active and enjoyed the outdoors. Cycling, running, walking, climbing and camping were all hobbies and the love of the outdoors is something that has stuck with me. Racing a bike didn't really get going until I was in my early 20's and I started entering the relatively new Marathon/Enduro events that were springing up. I seemed to go far better in the longer races than in the shorter XC races.
If I were to pick one thing that made me into the cyclist that I am now it would be getting a job as a cycle courier in Cardiff. I went from riding a few times a week to riding 80-100 miles a day 5 days a week, then racing the Mountain Bike on the weekend. It was tough going at times, but it gave me a great base fitness and I the results started to improve pretty quickly. In 2007 I won a 12hr solo race and then a 24hr race in 2008 and each year since along with other results along the way. The job as a courier lasted for 2 years until I decided to return back to Llandovery where I was raised in order to train with more control and structure. Another 2 years of tough training whilst working full time as a postman paid dividends and I won the inaugural UK 24hr solo championship in May 2010 and had the chance of a lifetime to travel to Australia to compete in the World Championships where I finished 6th despite what I consider to be a bad race.
Fast forward to 2011 and the chance to become a full time athlete presented itself, which is what I have been working towards for so many years. It wasn't an easy decision to make, but I am already feeling the difference as the consistency of my training has improved and also the amount of rest and recovery time.
One big reason why I love the outdoors and cycling so much is the beautiful Welsh countryside that I live in. Living near the town of Llandovery in Carmarthenshire just 40 miles from howies base in Cardigan is to me the perfect cycling area. Quiet country roads, big road climbs and amazing scenery give me endless choices and motivation to “get out and ride”. The off-road riding is pretty special as well, with the Cwm Rhaeadr trail just 2 miles up the road and Brechfa about 20 miles away I have to keep reminding myself how lucky I am and grant it for granted far too often.
This year is already well underway and my racing and training has been going well. I have moved up to Elite in XC racing, a dramatic departure from 24hr solo racing but something that I feel benefits my training. My first major event of the year is less than 2 weeks away, the UK 24hr solo championships where I hope to defend my title. Later this year I am going to tackle some big races including the Mega Avalanche and Etape d'Tour on consecutive days and a big stage race called Iron Bike, which is an 8-day race in the Italian Alps with an average of over 3000m climbing and 100km distance per day!
2011 is going to be a really exciting year and I am extremely happy to have the support of howies, especially as they are such a local company to me. I'll be keeping everyone updated of my racing and training progress as the year unfolds.