Name : Damien Breen
Age : 30
Damien Breen, fromrom commuting to racing, from London to Majorca, Damien's come quite a long way in a short space of time. His favourite inspiration is a fictional character...
When did you join the club : September 2007.
What made you start cycling : I bought a bike sometime in 2006 with the intention of riding to work and saving some money on tube fares - but it basically sat around unused for a few months before I gradually built up the confidence to ride through central London traffic. Shortly after that I signed up to ride from London to Paris for a charity called Ataxia which a friend of mine is involved with. After about 10 years of doing no sport at all I started to do a bit of training, starting from about ten miles - which seemed pretty far at the time
It quickly become pretty apparent that I was gradually catching the cycling bug, and with a heavy heart I knew it was a slippery slope to spending hours on the bike and a small fortune on all the kit. A couple of months after riding to Paris I tagged along on a club run, and after meeting lots of friendly and enthusiastic Wheelers I haven't looked back.
What bike do you ride : I race on a Cinelli with Campagnolo bits, and train on a Bianchi with Campagnolo bits. Neither are flashy, both are black, and seem inordinately temperamental.
Give us a brief cycling background : In the late eighties and early nineties my dad followed cycling, predominantly because of the success of the Irish riders Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche (portraits of both still hang prominently in my parents' dining room) - we'd watch the Tour highlights every evening on Channel 4 (or at least wrestled with the VCR to get it to record the whole program). He also took me to see the races when they visited England to celebrate the opening of the Channel Tunnel, and also to the Wincanton Classic down in Brighton a couple of times. During the Armstrong years our interest waned, and it wasn't until I started cycling myself in 2007 that I took an interest in pro cycling again. I originally joined the Wheelers with the intention of riding sportives, but I quickly changed my mind (to this day I've still never done one). My first race was a nervous foray to Hillingdon at the start of 2008, and then worked my way up to the 3rd cats by that summer. Unfortunately I had a nasty crash at the start of 2009 which set me back a bit, but last year went well and I managed to get enough good results to move up to 2nd category.
What was your best performance or ride : I won the 3rd cat SERRL Benenden/Sandhurst race in May 2010 which has so far been my best result. It was an absolutely filthy day, raining the entire race. Not wanting to sit in the bunch for any time I attacked fairly early and was joined by a couple of other strong riders, and we stayed away until the end. Conditions were deemed so tough all the finishers were given at least one BC point for their efforts - many of us were close to hypothermia by the end. I also came second overall at the two day Etape de la Defonce in Wales a month later - this was an enjoyable race with a great team performance with three other Wheelers - Jim Ley, Andy Lack and Dave Ladkin. After a good team TT, I broke away with a small group on the second day and we built up a big enough lead for me to finish 3rd on the day and 2nd overall on GC.
What was your worst day on the bike : Without doubt it was crashing in the first race of 2009 at the Chertsey MOD circuit. After a hard fall I sat on the cold February floor for what felt a very long time nursing a separated AC joint (the ligament that holds the collar bone in place) and some pretty tasty road rash. The crash took the skin off the ends of most of my fingers, my knees, a lump out of my chin, and knocked a fleshy hole out of my hip. It took me two weeks to get back to work, and a further month before I could get back on my bike again. I've had a pretty healthy fear of crashing since.
Who is your favourite pro or inspiration : Does Tim Krabbé's 'The Rider' count :From the non-fictional pro ranks I like riders with 'panache' or those with an interesting viewpoint. Strangely I'm not that interested in climbers - I'm drawn to speed and power, both of which I have none of but aspire to. For inspiration it's definitely the guys you see at the races every week, plugging away just for the love of it. After racing or training I usually collapse on the sofa for the rest of the day - many of these guys have young families to entertain or look after when they get home. I don't know how they do it.
What is your favourite bike food : During races it's predominantly gels as I find it hard to get down solid foods when racing hard. Whatever is on a discounted offer at the time is my brand of choice. I've started to make up my own energy drinks based on recipes by Jim Ley - once again frugality is the name of the game. During training I don't touch any energy foods, just sticking to bananas and cereal bars. And plenty of cake.
Where is your favourite cycling location : Majorca is great for some early season training with good climbs and good weather (although not always). Southern France is obviously a favourite - it's hard not to love the roads there. Last year I took on the Cinglés du Mont Ventoux challenge (climbing the mountain along each of its three roads in one day and I'd love to go back sometime soon and try it again. Maybe one day I'll even put aside my suspicions of sportives and ride the Marmotte.
Most likely to say : "I was going well until [insert appropriate excuse here]"
Least likely to say : ""I hope this all finishes in a bunch sprint".