Chris Hutchens

This week we talk to mountain biker Chris Hutchens who's been part of the Individual Performance Programme (IPP) for the past five years.

An interview with Chris Hutchens: one of the CSE's performance athletes in downhill mountain biking.

Every time I go out, I just want more! If I leave it a few weeks, I need to get out on my bike.

Chris Hutchens

Individual Performance Programme athlete: Downhill Mountain Biking

Career highlight?

I’ve been competing for 11 years and my highlights are becoming the Scottish and British Champion and racing for Great Britain at a World and European Championships.

I’ve previously placed ninth at the World Championships as a Junior.

What’s the nicest place cycling has taken you?

I would say some of the nicest places are around Europe such as places like Guarda, Portugal, which is pretty stunning with its mountains and crazy goats which climb up trees. South Africa is the furthest away place I’ve been which was amazing.

What does your typical week look like?

I train three times a week in the gym: two strength sessions and one session with the cycling TPP which is quite a good mix. I ride every weekend with the club and at competitions. Usually Wednesdays involve mountain biking or hitting the road bike. Then lectures and studying which makes it pretty busy in between.

I’m probably training about 15 hours a week plus competitions over the weekend with university taking up every other minute that I wouldn’t like to calculate!

How do you manage to fit it all in?

I guess I’ve been quite good with managing my time and when I do things. I have been a bit sporadic when I’ve been to the gym as university work takes priority. I set out a good timetable at the start of the year, get on excel and use the spreadsheet to plan out when I’m doing stuff, I know when my deadlines are and getting work started really early so I’m not leaving it to late. Sometimes avoiding nights out is key.

Why did you apply to the IPP?

I first applied coming into first year where I’d been competing at quite a high Junior level and I thought I needed a bit of help to continue that as a lot of the other guys were turning pro or doing it full-time.

The biggest attractions were the free gym membership and getting experience in the gym. I didn’t have a huge amount of experience in the gym before coming so learning how to train properly in the gym has certainly benefited my cycling.

How has the IPP helped you?

It has definitely helped me stay at quite a high level in my eyes, ideally I would have liked to improve way more but you have to be realistic with sport and university.

I want to continue to maintain the level I’m at, I’m feeling the pressure to balance everything but the IPP should set me up to be strong and fit to take on the competition next year.

The facilities are amazing, any sporting student would be daft not to consider Edinburgh…

Chris Hutchens

Why did you come to the University of Edinburgh in the first place?

I wanted to do engineering or geography, I’ve got some family connections around Edinburgh and mainly because its it’s only 40 minutes away from Innerleithen which is one of the downhill Mecca’s of the UK so that was probably the underlying factor.

What are the best bits about training and competing at Edinburgh and the University?

It’s been really good to meet the other cycling guys who have come through. There are quite a lot of other disciplines: cross country, road, etc. Another few good down hillers who I’ve managed to ride with. They’ve helped me train and ride and it’s been good to know there’s other like minded people at the University.

Sporting hero(s)?

It would have to be in downhill Steve Peat. Steve is probably one of the pioneers of downhill. He’s 35 now, a British rider and he’s still winning World Cups. He used to be a plumber but was also pretty good on the bike. When I was younger he was the one who inspired me.

Other cyclists would be Chris Hoy, where you can’t really say much else!

I respect any sportsperson who achieves highly.

Where do you see yourself in your sport in three years time?

Not sure exactly with sport but I will hopefully still be competing a high level in cycling either downhill or endurance which is more timed descents which incorporate a bit of fitness but I’ll still be racing.

Guilty pleasure when it comes to food or drink?

Tequila? It’s the Edinburgh University Cycling Club’s drink of the year.

Food-wise, my guilty pleasure would be eating too much of it!

What does your year ahead look like?

For competitions I’ll hopefully be spending quite a lot of time in Europe doing the European World Cups and European Series races which will be the main focus next year, combining those with some British competitions.

I’ll also hopefully pass my degree which will be the hard thing!

Would you like to add anything else? Any sort of message to the University community?

I’d just like to say thanks to Steve, John and Jim at the CSE - Steve Bishop and John Watson are the CSE’s full-time Strength and Conditioning coaches. Jim Aitken MBE is the Director of the CSE - they have helped me compete at the level I have been for the past five years

Interviewed in November 2011.

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