Reportage

Cameron Dixon: the Transcontinental Race Interview

I first became aware of Cameron in 2019 whilst working at NRG Cycles in Great Ayton. A few regular customers had been in and asked if I knew of this local lad – ‘somebody’ Dixon was all I had to go on and that he rode his bike….a lot. 

Working in a small North Yorkshire village you tend to know all the local cyclists and with my involvement with Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling, that knowledge is spread further a field into the race scene. I’d never seen him on a start sheet before, so who was he?

Turns out I’d already met him in the shop whilst popping in for a few spares on a ride and when I mentioned the scarce details I had of him to my mechanic Rich. He knew straight away who the mysterious mile muncher was. Cameron Dixon, lives local and is a family friend, you know who he is and he has been into the shop. Rich brings up his Strava and who’s at the top of his followers list after just finishing a 170km ride but Cameron himself. Turns out this was his 4th ride of a similar distance that week! 

The months ticked by and I kept tabs on his rides, clocking up the miles and adventuring further afield. One of the big ones was riding to Scotland , totally self supported with a few bags strapped to his bike. I mentioned him to a colleague at our other bike shop and he’d clocked some of his rides too. Being a keen audax rider himself, he’d never heard of him and said he needed to get himself signed up for some events as he’d give some of the veteran riders a good run for their money. 

I knew for some time I wanted to approach him and see if we could meet up for some photos and to get an interview together. Whilst planning this I got wind that Cameron was targeting the Trans Continental Race in 2020 and this spurred me on to make contact to document his journey to the event. Unfortunately 2020 hasn’t started as we all planned it with the outbreak of Covid-19 and like a lot of people I put my plans on hold till it was safe to meet up with Cameron. 

I caught up with him recently to have a socially distanced ride, shoot some images and chat on one of his rest days, although I was a bit dubious that he’d have me riding 140km with 3000m of climbing. I aim to track his progress and follow him on some of his long distance events leading up to the TCR – postponed to 2021 it gives him some more time to test out the waters.  

Tell us a little bit about yourself Cameron?
I’m 25 years old, I have spent most of my life in and around North Yorkshire, with the exception of 3 years at university studying engineering.  Being so close to the moors growing up really created a passion for the outdoors.

Why cycling? 
I started cycling regularly about 3 years ago, back then just because it was a form of exercise that I could do at anytime, straight for my front door. Then as my fitness started to improve my love for the sport did too.  I began to challenge myself with longer rides, steeper and harder climbs, and soon I was at the point where I was always looking forward to the next day out on the bike.

Did you know you wanted to ride big miles or was it just something that happened? 
Riding the sort of distances I do now was never a goal I set myself, but as my endurance improved I found myself able to go further without exhausting myself.  I started to enjoy riding to places that I used to consider a relatively long drive and would never have thought I was able to ride to, let alone to and from.

Why the TCR? Was it a dare as it isn’t a race you decide to enter overnight? 
I don’t think anyone I know actually knew what the Transcontinental race was when I told them I had entered. And after explaining it to them they all thought I was mad. It looks like an incredible experience really, It goes through some amazing places and it is a proper test of a riders endurance, both physically and mentally. I find that riding massive miles day in day out is something I am pretty good at, so the TCR seems like a great way of actually pushing me out of my comfort zone and seeing how much I can actually do!

What’s the worst place you have been both mentally and physically on a bike? 
Now I don’t know really, I don’t think I have ever had a truly dreadful day on the bike, I have had some fairly miserable periods of cold and wet when I have been caught out far into the Dales, massively under-dressed and regretted not packing a proper waterproof.

Can you tell us more about your bike and what kit you are using? 
I am currently using a Kinesis Crosslight frame with SRAM force mechs and shifters. I bought the frame a couple of months ago to replace my old bike after cracking the bottom bracket shell. The Kinesis frame has been great for me so far and it gives me enough room to fit on some pretty chunky tires for when I feel like tackling some rocky off-road terrain. I have a large Apidura saddlepack and a home-made handlebar/tribar bag for carrying extra food and clothing on longer rides.


 
What’s your favourite ride to date and what’s the hardest ride you’ve completed?
My favourite ride so far, or at least the most memorable, was riding north from my house to meet the family at a holiday cottage on the north west coast of Scotland. It was a 540km ride through some of the best scenery in the UK. I rode over Rannock moor at 1am on the summer solstice and it was the most incredible feeling of isolation I have ever felt! I would also probably put that as my hardest ride to date as well, the brutal amount of climbing around the Scottish borders on a loaded bike took a lot out of me. And the final 80km on rough and winding single carriage way after 3 hours of sleep on a bus bench was a real struggle! 

What does the future hold after TCR? 
I haven’t actually planned that far ahead, especially now it has been postponed to 2021. I have been looking into events like the GBDURO and the Trans Am Bike Race as they look like incredible experiences as well. I will just have to see what the future holds and see how I fair in the coming year. I am currently ontrack to reach 50000km by the end of 2020 so that goal is keeping me motivated to just ride.

Do you have a training plan and how do you fuel yourself for these rides?
I don’t have any particular structure to my training, its done mainly on feel. I can tell when my body needs some rest. I try and fit in some recovery rides as needed, and the occasional faster group rides just to add some variety to my schedule. I am not particularly fond of gels and other energy supplements, so for longer rides I tend to pack home-made food such as fruitcake and banana bread and various wraps for when I want something more savoury, they also hold together quite well after 8 hours of being bumped about in my bikebags.

How do you fit it around working and a social life?
At the moment I work for a medical supplies company, servicing and repairing medical devices. Its part time and very flexible so I can fit it in around my riding, often stopping off mid-ride for a few hours at the office.  I always find time to fit in walks with friends and occasionally they will join me for a couple of hours when I am out riding. Cycling is very popular around where I live so there are always loads of friendly people who want to chat out on the roads!

Do you have any tips for anyone who wants to get out there and do this for themselves? 
I don’t really have any special insight into doing this sort of mileage. I just sort of fell into this routine and found that I really enjoyed it. I would advise people to up their mileage gently and listen to their own bodies, if after 10 miles you are really not feeling it that day, there is no shame in turning back. Pushing yourself too hard can just cause you to burnout and cycling is supposed to be about having fun and enjoying yourself, even if it does feel masochistic at times. Keep yourself fuelled and don’t set of like you are doing a 40km timetrial if you are planning a 400km audax, but everyone probably knows that already!

Thank you for taking the time to catch up with me Cameron and shooting some images on your rest day! 

You can follow Cameron’s progress as he keeps training for the TCR 2021 by following my Instagram where I’ll post regular updates and more content.