An athlete’s lot is not meant to be an indulgent one. When the big day comes around, as we’re cracking open the breakfast bubbly, fighting over the last roast potato and serving ourselves a second helping of Christmas pudding, we civilians like to imagine cyclists are doing pretty much the opposite.
Cycling lore serves us well in that respect, and is replete with tales of masochistic pedallers heading out for mammoth training sessions, just to give themselves that edge – even if it’s only psychological – going into the new season.
As we learned when we caught up with him in Mallorca recently, Alex Dowsett doesn’t (really) bother with that kind of nonsense. Team Katusha-Alpecin’s new British recruit filled us in on all his festive favourites, his new season’s resolutions, and how his girlfriend has been getting him in the Christmas spirit for quite some time…
Alex Dowsett doesn’t go in for Christmas Day training. Much
If we’re staying at home I won’t ride the bike, but if we’re going somewhere I do. There’s not many cars on the road and everyone’s really friendly on Christmas Day. I usually put a Christmas hat on over my helmet. It’s about a fifty mile ride to where my cousin is in Cambridge, so I’m going to do that. It just makes you feel a bit better about stuffing your face.
In fact, he doesn’t think very much of those that do
You get a lot of guys they tell you they’re doing this, they’re doing that, to show that they’re committed athletes, but they probably don’t tell you about the 27 days they took off because they couldn’t be arsed during the season.
People that actually train on Christmas day, people that go out and say that they do four, five hours, I think they need to have a good look at themselves in the mirror. I can understand if there’s a bit of a club run, a group of guys and girls going out to a pub or something.
All he wants for Christmas is
you a nice suit
I’m the worst one in the world to buy for. My mum and dad and my sister, and my girlfriend, have been asking me for ages. I’m like “I dunno”. In the end I said help towards a new double-breasted suit. That’s all I could come up with. My family are all very generous. They’ll get me something I won’t expect, and it’s always really good.
He has some interesting ideas as to what constitutes a good Christmas present
I’m part of something called Miles for Haemophilia campaign, and I was in Rome for a big conference, where all the haemophilia doctors from all over the world come together. Miles for Haemophilia was very present there and there was a big one-storey high picture of my face. They asked if I wanted it and I said “No… but can you write a note and deliver it to my mum, please?” So she’s getting that. God knows how big it is. I’m quite excited for her to open that up.
He has some controversial views on Christmas dinner
I’m just looking forward to the purple and green Quality Streets, if I’m honest. When I think of Christmas that’s what I think of. It’s more that than the roast dinner, actually. We’re not a big roast dinner family. I don’t really see what the fuss is all about.
His girlfriend may be a bit too fond of Christmas songs
Chanel loves Christmas a lot more than I do. I like Christmas but not to the level that she does. We’ve got Sonos in our house, and I’ll get back from training and it’ll just be some Christmas playlist with, I think, 239  songs on it. I asked if it was a playlist [she’d found] on Spotify and she said “no, this is my playlist.” She’s actually made it. This was in late October. I’ve heard them in June, July.
His festive film favourites include Love Actually
I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I really like the fella that goes to America, and the Hugh Grant bits. God knows how many times I’ve seen it. Obviously Elf is a fantastic [Christmas film]. Chanel doesn’t like Will Ferrell, so I’m going to subject her to that at some point. [2019 Update: Chanel confirms Alex has still to convince her to watch it.]
He was in his school’s nativity but it was not a memorable performance (for him at least)
I definitely was not in the main cast. Maybe one of the wise men but I doubt it. Probably a sheep. Maybe I was a shepherd. My mum’ll know. [Alex’s mum later texts back and confirms he was indeed one of the shepherds “and I wore a tea towel on my head.”]
His favourite Christmas cracker joke is very much on brand
How does a snowman get around? By icicle.
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions he’s not that different from you and me
Cycling-wise, it’s to try and sort my nutrition out. Steve Cummings rolled me in the Nationals for eight seconds. Over a one hour race, which is very little, but still, it hurt. I remember after the race I went for a pizza and a pint. Obviously he was just pre-Tour de France and I knew I wasn’t going, but Steve had all of his meals for the whole week in an icebox all prepared. I told myself: “I need to up my game there.”