An Interview With - Alain Tallier


Although only a member for a little under a year, Alain has made quite an impression on all that have ridden with him, along with his son Sebastien. Read on to find out more about Alain

Q. You obviously have a cycling background, but what made you start?

A. Like most people I had a BMX in primary school and a random ‘town’ bike in high school. Both gave me the great joy and freedom to dash about town visiting friends and exploring the suburbs. Sadly, when I got to university I started driving everywhere and stopped cycling, only getting back into cycling in later life. When I lived and worked in London, I would regularly use the then ‘Barclays bikes’ and rather enjoyed them. I therefore decided to get a road bike and start commuting and absolutely loved getting into the office full of happy endorphins. Soon after work sent me to SA where bicycle commuting reduced but having joined a club, cycling increased. 


Q. Have you competed, and if so, at what events and at what level?

A. To date I have only competed in the South African road racing scene, which is very active and based on a seeding system. I would race in the A bunch which is the top amateur seeding and in the V bunches which are the stronger racing license bunches by age group. I love being in a fast-moving peloton, handlebar to handlebar, wheel to wheel, chasing down attacks, joining breaks, working the echelons. It’s scary at times but that’s what makes it so fun.


Q. Do you do different types of cycling (Road, MTB, Gravel, Turbo) and if so which one do you prefer and why?

A. I turboed for a month during lockdown but wasn’t convinced. I’ve done a bit of MTBing and though I find it vaguely enjoyable, especially barrelling down hills, I find it a bit slow and boring and much prefer road cycling. I also do the occasional triathlon or half iron man.  


Q. Those of us who have spoken to you will know you are not from the UK, so how does riding here compare to other countries and their cycling cultures?

A. It seems very similar. There’s a wide range of clubs to choose, from the more serious racing ones to the more social ones (like MDCC and my old club Club100). Generally, cyclists are very friendly folk, respectful of other road users. Cars do seem a lot friendlier in the UK then in SA, where I have been taken out a couple of times in the latter, with a bike sadly written off. I have definitely experienced the benefit of a helmet. 


Q. Do you do, or have you done, any sports other than cycling?

A. I have always been very active across many different sports, from school to present. Though in recent times it has mostly been cycling, running and triathlon. Though I occasionally get the odd game of tennis or less often golf in and when possible, a bit of skiing or snowboarding.  


Q. How often are you able to get out on your bike?

A. Less then I would like, on average, every second weekend. Though with Covid and work from home, I do get to squeeze the odd mid-week ride in. Though if time is tight, I’ll squeeze in a run, which though not fun is a necessary evil to keep a modicum of base level fitness.


Q. Other than cycling what other hobbies do you have?

A. Between kids and work there isn’t too much time for hobbies beyond cycling and if I do get a bit of spare time, it’s often later in the evening, where I enjoy switching off the screens and reading a book.


Q. What is your most memorable ride?

A. As mentioned earlier, I really enjoyed the racing scene, getting to the end of a race with a completely empty tank and shaky legs. I’ve also done a few multi day charity rides, both in SA and the UK and find them really fun, though the night sessions at the bar can be harder work than the daytime cycling.


Q. You are fairly new to MDCC. How have you found the experience and would you like anything to be changed?

A. MDCC is great, everyone is very friendly and welcoming and there is a good mix of groups and rides to suit all riding types. No changes needed, though in summer an earlier start mightn’t be a bad thing.


Q. It is great that your young son Sebastien rides with the club, but does anyone else in your family cycle?

A. He loves it, though his younger sister isn’t exactly convinced. She prefers her horse riding, but she has said she will come cycling with me if I can find a tandem that will fit her.


Q. Technology has become more prevalent in bikes, such as Electronic gears, Disc Brakes and even Suspension. What is your opinion on these technologies?

A. I’m a bit old school and prefer simplicity that won’t fail me. I prefer sticking to a mechanical groupset and rim brakes. Neither have ever failed me in all sorts of conditions. When I have had to break very hard my wheels lock so I’m not sure I need more breaking power. Road cycling is about going fast and forward, we don’t do much braking, just soft modulation. Rim brakes are also more aesthetically pleasing.


Q. If you could have any bike what would it be?

A. Being Belgian I love my Merckx, second choice would be a Ridley and third something Italian. Though I’m very fond of my current frame, so would probably upgrade my wheels and groupset to the carbon Campagnolo ones I had before a car decided to crunch them. 


Q. How have you managed the challenges of the various Covid restrictions we have had?

A. Despite a bit of indoor training which I didn’t really enjoy I have managed to get out and keep riding as much as before. Though it is nicer when we can do so in a bunch.