Environment Agency senior planning advisor, Andrew Coleman, talks about his passion for mountain bike riding and a recent gruelling charity ride.
How did you get into mountain bike riding?
I've been riding since before mountain bikes – about 20 years – and it used to be a good excuse to get out, meet people and have a beer. I recently completed a sponsored ride to celebrate the centenary or the Royal Town Planning Institute. It was a 100 miles for 100 years ride across the South Downs Way with Martin Taylor, director of planning and consulting at GVA and David Vickers, a planner at East Sussex County Council. It took us two-and-a-half days and we raised £700 for various charities.
What does it involve?
Many people who cycle regularly live near Brighton and the Downs. We normally meet up on a Thursday and ride for about 20 miles to maintain a basic level of fitness. For the charity ride we built up our training regime two months before the event.
Why do you do it?
I do it because the South Downs are beautiful and on my doorstep. I like keeping fit and you don't have to go far away from the popular 'honey spots' to be on your own in the middle of the countryside, in the middle of summer. Absolute bliss.
What’s the toughest thing about it?
The steep hills are the hardest and some have to be tackled once or twice in practice before a major event like a charity ride.
What’s the most rewarding thing about it?
For me it was completing the charity ride. Last time I had a go, in 2010, I skidded three quarters of the way through, fell from my bike and broke one of my shins.
Are there any similarities between your day job as a planner and mountain biking?
Good question: I started cycling seriously in the late 1980s. On our bikes and in the pubs we would talk about planning, for which there have been many changes. Yet I find we talk about similar things now to when I started, such as the pros and cons of an appeal-led system and so on. An irresistible cycling analogy comes to mind – the wheels keep turning but planners must carry on regardless and be resilient for the long run.
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Pic: left to right Coleman, Vickers, Taylor