Less than 12 months after quitting cycling, Derry’s Marcus Christie is back breaking Irish records and he’s doing it on Bradley Wiggins’ bike!
Christie’s recent renaissance has already brought him a new Irish 50-mile record and the Ulster 10-mile Time Trial Championship title with the 25-year-old now setting his sights on the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia and dreaming of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Injury and illness robbed Christie of the opportunity to fully showcase his talents at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and so disillusioned was the Jordanstown Sports Coaching student with his performance that it looked like Irish cycling was about to lose one of its biggest talents.
The current Irish 50m and 100m Time Trial record holder even swapped the road for the river as he took up rowing with the Belfast Boat Club in Stranmillis but now he’s getting back to his best with a little help from the 2012 Tour de France winner!
“I think I’m better set now to make a proper go of things in cycling,” explained Christie, “I underestimated how much of a mental battle it can be. The break helped me clear my head. I can now see goals that are attainable, both short term and long term. I want to take it step by step and not look too far down the line.”
And then there’s the bike. A specialised Team Sky Pinarello Bolide TT bike which includes Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic drivetrain and Mavic CXR wheels complete with Mavic CXR-01 tyres. It was used by Wiggins in both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California and Christie admits it has become something of a star in its own right.
“When I turn up at races there are people looking to get their picture taken with it just because it belonged to Bradley Wiggins. It has a few admirers okay,” he smiles, “You have to laugh it off because I think the bike sometimes gets more credit than I do but people forget I broke a few records before I had it.
“You have to build your ‘engine’ up to a certain point and then a piece of equipment like this can help. Had I got on it after I had just returned to cycling and wasn’t fit, it would have been of no benefit. When you have the power built up you can put it into the road rather than losing it on the bike. It’s a stiffer more aerodynamic frame than the one I had previously.
“After I decided to return to cycling, I sold most of my old equipment - my old time trial bikes and stuff. I saw the Wiggins’ bike advertised in Liverpool and I took it from there. It wasn’t cheap!
“It was advertised as Bradley Wiggins’ bike and cost a lot of money but it represented a good deal because it came with everything you needed and to buy it new would have been much more expensive.”
When I turn up at races there are people looking to get their picture taken with it just because it belonged to Bradley Wiggins. It has a few admirers okayMarcus Christie
Christie - now racing with Dublin based German team Asea Wheelworx - was breaking more records on his celebrity cycle this week by smashing the 10-mile course record with 18m 54secs at a club race in Warrenpoint on Wednesday but he admits it was his sabbatical from cycling that proved more beneficial than the new piece of equipment.
The former Foyle College student spent some of his formative years track cycling in Switzerland before an Achilles injury stalled his career and left him contemplating walking away completely.
“Under the circumstances I got a decent result at the last Commonwealths but I’d had three bouts of bronchitis that year and was way over weight and not in good nick. I did okay considering that but there was definitely a lot more I could have shown.
“Cycling is a very time consuming sport and my head went after those Games. I was going through the motions and couldn’t concentrate the way I had been. I needed to get the cycling ‘bug’ back again and thankfully I have now.
“I went and did a bit of rowing and returned to university and both have given me a sense of perspective. I realised how much I missed cycling.
“I did walk away from it but around St. Patrick’s Day this year I started to regret that and think about getting back. I did a bit of training and tried to get myself into some sort of decent shape. I put in a lot of work and once I realised I was starting to come good, I saw the Wiggins’ bike and thought, ‘I’m going to give cycling a proper go this time’.”
That decision is really starting to pay dividends for the gifted Christie who admits the current Olympics Games in Rio has only whetted his appetite to reach the top.
“The Olympics really whet the appetite,” he adds, “They are 100% something I would like to be looking at further down the line. There is nothing to stop me. If I can keep improving and working hard then we will see what happens. “People had warned me I would regret quitting and they were right. It was a mental thing I had to overcome but I’m past it now.
“I had a good look at things and decided if I got training and competing properly, I could be aiming for the Commonwealth games in 2018. I want to get out there and get a good ride in the Time Trial. That is the long term target. I have a few other short term targets which I’m hoping will help me build toward 2018 but my aim is to take it step by step.”
It is an impressive return to form, so much so that if Christie keeps progressing at his current rate, Sir Bradley may have to ask for his bike back!