British Multi-Champion Dan Bigham Gets PEZ’d
Rider Interview: Becoming a National champion is a big thing and repeating that feat is even bigger, but taking six titles in one season is taking it a bit far! Ed Hood caught up with multi-champion Dan Bigham to hear about his sextet (and counting) of titles.
The record for the most British Championships by an individual won in one season? I make it Daryl Webster, season 1985 who won the individual pursuit, team pursuit, 25 mile (40 kilometer) time trial championships, the 50 mile (80 kilometer) time trial championship, hill climb and the British Cycling Federation AND Road Time Trials Council 100 kilometer team time trial championships.
It looks like one of those records which will stand the test of time – but hot on Daryl’s heels is a man who has exploded onto the UK race scene in season 2017, Dan ‘Raptor’ Bigham. The 25 year-old former triathlete who now lives in Derby is up to six titles and counting, best ‘have a word’ we thought to ourselves. . .
PEZ: What’s with the ‘Raptor’ moniker, Dan?
Dan Bigham: It was a nickname I acquired in my rugby playing days and it’s stuck.
PEZ: Talk us through your British titles, please.
The kilometer time trial, individual pursuit and team pursuit on the track; the circuit time trial, team time trial and 50 mile time trial on the road – that’s six.
PEZ: You’ve rather burst on to the scene this year. . .
I was originally a rugby player but because of injuries I moved across to triathlon and won the first one I competed in, the British Universities ‘super sprint’ championship. I did triathlon from 2012 to 2015 but sustained a foot injury which made running difficult so concentrated on the bike – that’s two-and-a-half seasons of bike racing now.
PEZ: Which title gives you most satisfaction?
That’s a hard one; it’s between the individual and team pursuits; probably the latter because we all put so much into it and took 20 seconds off our best time in four weeks – and we still have more to come.
PEZ: Tri/track/time trial are there many differences in your position between the disciplines?
I’ve done a lot of aero testing and that took me to maybe 10 or 20 small changes in my position from my tri days. The only difference between my track position and the one I used for the 50 mile time trial is that in the latter I’m maybe 20/30 mil. higher at the front.
PEZ: What gearing do you ride for time trials?
I ride 60 x 11 to 23, I do try to keep the cadence up between 95 and 100; the big ring isn’t just so as I can get huge gears, it’s because it works better for us in the drive trains we run – but I can’t say too much about that, it’s a bit of a secret of ours.
PEZ: Do you have a coach, what’s the philosophy, is it all specific work with no ‘junk’ miles?
Yes, Tom Kirk of Custom Cycle Coaching – we always train on power; as for ‘no junk miles’ I’d like to say ‘yes’ but I’d be lying! When I was building up for the track championships I did very specific training, around eight to ten hours per week at high intensity. After that I had three weeks on the road in Spain to build the endurance again.
PEZ: Has British Cycling expressed any interest?
Not a great deal, I didn’t come up through their system but I’m currently waiting to see what their selection criteria are for the Commonwealth Games.
PEZ: How do you explain your success this season?
Last year I trained for what I thought I had to do to be successful on the road and whilst I got my elite category license and had some decent rides I did way too much and ended up dead early in the season with all the four, five, six hour rides. I cut the season short and started early for the season and concentrated on the track. There are fewer variables on the track, it’s a numbers game, if you produce ‘X’ amount of watts then you’ll do ‘Y’ time – coming from an engineering background that’s simple for me to understand. I’ve also started to pay more attention to nutrition and my position on the bike and it’s all come together for me.
PEZ: Your job in aero testing is a dream for a track rider/time triallist?
Yes, we do a lot of work with club cyclists wanting to improve their position right up to guys like Alistair Brownlee the Olympic triathlon champion. We also do product testing for equipment manufacturers – right now we’re testing wheels for an attempt on the ladies’ world hour record in Mexico.
PEZ: You ride a Scott Plasma for time trials.
Yes, it suits me better than say a Giant Trinity which more upright and geared towards tri more. The Scott is longer and lower, which suits my body shape – I think now that if you buy a frame from any of the big name manufacturers you’re going to get a good, fast, aero product.
PEZ: Will we see you in the 100 mile time trial championship race?
Not a chance! It took a lot to get me to do the ‘50’ and that’s at the top end of what my training would let me do. But I’d say that you should never say ‘never.’
PEZ: What’s still ‘to do’ in 2017?
I achieved what I wanted to at the track Nationals so not too much; I have a little down time then the Hoops Three Day Stage Race at Milton Keynes which has an individual time trial in it which plays to my strengths. Then there’ll be the British 10 and 25 mile time trial championships.
PEZ: And if you could win just one race?
It’s a race that’s no longer around – it’d be the Olympic Four Kilometer Individual Pursuit or failing that to be part of the team in the Olympic Four Kilometer Team Pursuit.
# We’ll be keeping our eye on the British 10 and 25 mile time trial championships to see if Dan can equal Daryl’s 32 year-old record. #
It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,500 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.