- What is your preferred cycling discipline?
I enjoy both Mountain Biking and Road. I love being able to get away from it all and there's nothing better than hitting good trails at speed through the bush on a the mountain bike. That being said, as far as racing goes, I would probably have to lean towards the road. I definitely have more experience on the road and probably consider myself a little closer to the pointy end of 'elite' racing on black stuff. I love the various tactics at play; trying to read a race and what other people are doing, the fact it requires mental strength as well as fitness & the rush you get during a fast race in a big bunch!
- Tell us a little of your cycling history.
I used to race downhill mountain bikes as a junior before having to become an adult, get a job and pay my own bills etc. rudely got in the way. After that, I didn't touch a bike for a few years and went through a bit of a gym junkie/footy boofhead phase. Eventually (I think it was in 2011 from memory), I decided it was time to throw a leg over a bike again. Initially, I jumped on a cheap 'hand-me-down' road bike & started riding it purely with the intention to get myself a little bit fitter. I'm not sure if I should admit it, but a friend challenged me to try a Triathlon so I did a bit more riding in the lead up to that. I guess it must've ignited something to get myself fit again. I started riding with the local cycling club guys and joined their bunch rides in my home town of Armidale and it wasn't long before I was convinced to buy a racing license and turn up to club racing. My first few races were a bit pathetic and I couldn't even keep up with D Grade! That didn't sit very well with my overly-competitive nature and I realised I had a lot to learn. It wasn't long until I was out riding more and more and soaking up all the advice and knowledge that I could from the older and far more experienced guys in the Armidale Cycling club. I was super keen to progress and jumped at any opportunity to race! It took a bit of time but eventually I moved through the grades and managed to win a few races. I moved to Tamworth for work reasons and quickly found the local cycling club there. The cycling scene in Tamworth is awesome for what is a small country town! There are bunch rides almost every day of the week and very tough club racing on weekends. I made some great friends in Tamworth and there were some super strong guys there to ride with and learn from, which was excellent for me! In 2013, I was very fortunate to receive an opportunity, mainly thanks to a good mate of mine Mitch Carrington, to travel to Belgium to live, train and race with the 'Douchy-Thalassa Cycling Team'. The racing in Belgium is extremely tough but I learnt a whole lot from the experience, both about myself as well as cycling and the art of racing.
- In your own words tell us a little about your current riding ambitions for the year ahead.
I took a bit of a break from serious training and racing last year (2015). For me, the sport is about enjoyment! During 2014 I trained very seriously (approximately 15 hours a week) for some big races whilst still working full time in a job that requires a 12 hour rotating shift work roster. I managed to balance the two but really didn't have much life outside of work, training, eating and sleeping. So in 2015 I decided I needed a bit of a break both physically and mentally. I basically just rode my bike/s when I felt like it, rode as little or as far as I felt like at the time and got back to what the sport is all about for me... loving being on my bike and having fun!! Now that I well and truly have the enjoyment factor back I have found myself super keen again and have basically found myself doing kilometers and training without really making a conscious decision to start again. The plan at this stage is to get myself fit and build some race legs again. I have a few racing goals penciled in, both on dirt and the road but the aim is still to make sure I keep it about having fun in the process!
- Tell us what a typical week in the shoes of Dave Rugendyke involves.
I normally work 3 to 4 days a week; I work 12 hour shifts, a mixture of both days and nights. Outside of work, I like to ride most days, go for a surf or swim almost every day (I love the salt water) and regularly feed my caffeine addiction (we're talking at least several times a day!). I try to get to the snow once or twice during winter because I love skiing but otherwise on a daily basis, I basically love anything outdoors, really enjoy spending time socialising, catching up with friends and I love to travel and explore new places whenever I get the opportunity.
- Do you ride competitively? If so what motivates you towards this?
Yes I race competitively. I think I have to say my competitive nature probably has a fair bit to do with it. However, I think also, in just about everything I do, I have a desire to better myself, learn from those with more experience, improve on my last performance or do things to the best of my ability. I like challenging myself, am willing to step outside of my comfort zone and I'm definitely a goal setter. I find you get real satisfaction when you work hard and take steps to achieve those goals you set! Aside from the actual racing itself, I think the competitive side of the sport as a whole is great in terms of the opportunities it provides to travel and the people you get to meet. I have made some of my very best friends and have friends and contacts all over the world that I have made through riding and racing!
- What has been your favourite event you’ve competed in and why?
Whilst racing overseas was an amazing experience and definitely something I'll never forget, I think my favourite event that I've competed in so far is the Melbourne to Warrnambool. It is Austalia's oldest cycling race and the second oldest in the world after the prestigious Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic. The grueling 273 kilometer one day classic these days serves as a round of the Australian National Road Series (NRS) and is the longest UCI race in the Southern Hemisphere. In fact, the only race longer than it is the Milan-San Remo. The race has become somewhat of an icon amongst cyclists, both in Australia and abroad, largely due to its long history, the open and varied terrain it covers and the harsh weather conditions and punishing crosswinds that usually plague the route to make it a real hard man's classic. It's no surprise that it attracts many of the very best domestic riders Australia has to offer. It's always going to be a tough race to win but I love a challenge and I have already pencilled it in for October this year.
- What is your favourite item of riding equipment and why?
It's definitely very hard to pick just one favourite item but I think I have to say my Specialized S-WORKS Tarmac. It's the bike I spend the most time on and as far as I'm concerned, for me, it is the best all round race bike money can buy! I had the previous model SL4 Tarmac which was already an incredible machine but the 'New Tarmac' is seriously next level. Super stiff, super light and it corners like the thing is on rails; it's a pretty amazing piece of engineering! The only problem I've found is we don't have enough fun descents with endless corners here in Australia. Descending and cornering at speed is where you really get to appreciate the beauty of how the thing handles.
- Where is your favourite place to ride in the local area and why?
My favourite ride I have done on the road in the area, is from Newcastle down the old highway to Sydney. However I can't go past Glenrock as my favourite place to ride. I'm very lucky to live quite close which means I can ride out of my garage and be on the trails in Glenrock within 10 minutes. There's no location like it, trails in the forest right near a deserted beach. It can feel like you're a million miles away! That being said, the place has so much more potential! I would love to see local authorities embrace the idea of mountain biking as a genuine tourist attraction. If you look at places like Cairns, Mount Stromlo in Canberra, Mount Buller in Victoria and more recently Blue Derby in Tasmania; they have invested money and sure that's an expense, however the trails can now be used day in, day out, even when it's wet and they've been constructed in a way that they don't have any dramas with erosion and can handle heavy bike traffic. All of those places now host large events and people travel from all over the country to ride the trails. I'd absolutely love to see that happen in Glenrock!
- Why is Drift Bikes and Specialized a good match for you?
I have a very long history with Drift Bikes. I bought my first proper Downhill Bike (an Intense M1) from Drift way back when I was a little tacker. Over the years since then, I have ridden with, raced with and traveled with the guys from Drift all over the country and even overseas. The Drift crew have become great friends and have always supported me and helped me with all of my riding endeavors. As for Specialized, they are an extremely progressive company who are investing a whole lot of time and money into the research and development of their bikes, components, tires and gear. As a result, specialized are constantly setting the standard and raising the bar in both the cycling and mountain bike worlds. Thankfully for me, this means I am always riding and using the latest and best gear available as far as racing is concerned. I have also been lucky enough to meet and get to know quite a lot of the people who work for Specialized here in Australia. They are all great people and you know you are always in for a super fun time whenever you go anywhere or do anything with the team from Specialized!