BRITISH REIGNING HILL CLIMB CHAMP: ON THE DROPS INTERVIEW WITH DAN EVANS
The Welshman will be jumping the pond later this year to take Phil Gaimon at the Hill Climb World Champs in Santa Barbara, California. The 25min climb, as visited by Tour of California, will stand as the perfect stadium for these wheels to shine! We caught Dan in between hill reps to have a chat about motorbikes, paying for kitchens with bikes, and of course hill climb tech...
Name: Dan Evans
Born and Bred: Old Colwyn, North Wales.
Icebreaker! Three Words to Describe Yourself:
Dan Evans (DE): Skinny fat man.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. We understand you’re getting yourself ready for the HC season up ahead – how has the year been for you? Are you happy with your results/progress?
DE: 2018 has been a different year to the norm really, I’ve shifted my focus from racing and TT’s onto just enjoying my time on the bike a bit more, trying to ride abroad a bit and training with friends. That said I’ve had a silver medal at the Welsh XC champs as well as a couple of Open TT wins so it’s all good…
How exactly does a HC Nat Champ spend his ‘off-season’ in the summer getting ready?
DE: Just eating! I’m a bit of a Jan Ullrich type character in the off-season (10months of the year ) and have an unhealthy appreciation of ice cream…
Tell us more about what kickstarted the love for cycling? When did you start and why?
DE: I’ve always loved bikes, from learning to ride at three or four years old I’ve never really looked back. It was mountain bikes in my teens, then motorbikes in my early 20’s until the fitness/racing side of the sport took over completely. Now it’s all about quality time in the saddle, smashing my way up climbs with Jess or racing the lads down a mountain somewhere in Europe is what gives me my kicks…
First bike you owned?
DE: A tiny little Eddy Merckx kiddies BMX way back in 1984. Oh man that makes me feel old…
Favourite bike you owned?
DE: My favourite bike was/is the Cannondale Evo that I won the 2014 hill climb nationals on. Black and red with the latest Dura-Ace Di2 and carbon everything, I still go a bit misty-eyed when I think of that one. My best mate bought it off me and I spent the money on a new kitchen. Bit of a fail really…
Secret hobby when you’re not cycling?
DE: My not-so-secret hobbies… I’m still mad on motorbikes, mainly dirtbikes (as I can’t behave myself on the road…) and try to spend a bit of time thrashing around the Welsh countryside with friends. That and wobbling about on a wakeboard when the weather is fit.
What was your biggest cycling accident/crash, and how much stuff did you break?
DE: Back to the motorbike stuff for this really. Knee, ankle, both wrists, hand, every single finger, face! Yeah, I used to crash a lot, too much!
We know you’re a bit of a ‘ride everything’ cyclist (I’ve seen a picture of your garage) - what is it you love about HC over everything else?
DE: It’s a bit perverse this one. Part of me does it simply because I’m good at it, I guess it comes naturally but the biggest reason is the kind of effort that’s needed for a hill climb. It’s a raw, brutal effort that requires you to take your body to its limit, then slightly beyond and then hold it there until you get to the top. How well you can do that, how badly you can suffer and how much you want it can really tell you a lot about yourself…
We noticed recently you’re 8th overall on Alp D’Huez on Strava - any plans to take the KOM?
DE: This is definitely something that I want to have a go at if I get the chance. Last time I rode it was in the 2015 Grimpee d’Alpe mass start hill climb in July 2015 and I was overweight at 70kg but fit and healthy. I’d love to see what sort of time I could do at my 65kg race weight… That day in 2015 I placed second behind the flying Michael Gallego who having placed 5th in the Marmotte the previous day went on to big-ring the whole climb out of the saddle with me gasping on his wheel. Incredible…
Aside from defending the Nat Champs, do you have any other big cycling goals for next season?
DE: I’m not going to defend the National title this year as I’ll be racing in Phil Gaimon’s “World Hill Climb Champs” in Santa Barbara, California on the previous day. Gutted to miss the Nationals but the chance to race in California representing Britain in my champs stripes is awesome, I can’t wait for that. “Proper” climb too, 25mins up Gibraltar (as used in the TOC).
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done to shave weight from a bike?
DE: Definitely filing down a set of carbon brake blocks. Saved about two grams and wrecked a decent set of pads. Not too proud of that one…
So, wheels. What should a HC rider look for in their hoops?
DE: In hill climbing, wheels are everything! First and foremost it just has to be tubulars, purely for the lightweight aspect. Next up they need to be light, really light, really really light but also stiff enough to take the torque without flexing all over the place and wasting precious power. A typical hill climb will see you at big power and low wheel speed so this can put massive strain on a rear wheel especially.
What about tyres? Sizes? Pressures?
DE: Tyres are (as always) a bit of a nerdy topic but for me it’s 23mm Vittorias, either Pistas or Corsa Speeds at a pressure between 100 and 160psi depending on the course and the weather conditions. That’s all you’re getting… Haha.
Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us Dan, congratulations on an epic 2017/18 season. Best of luck for with the targets this coming season, and we'll no doubt be seeing you at the top of even more Strava segment leaderboards!