2015 will see the return of a familiar face to John Herety’s team, as Australian Richard Lang returns following a years hiatus from the sport. Lang, who rode for Rapha Condor Sharp in 2012, and won the Leazes Criterium in Newcastle, raced for Team Raleigh in 2013 before taking time to settle in to life and discover ‘normal’ life in the UK where he has settled with his partner Mel.
We spoke to Lang about his absence from the sport, and his ambitions for his return.
We didn’t see you on the circuit this year. What prompted you to stop racing?
So in 2013 I was with Raleigh, and after a year there I didn’t really want to go back. So I signed with Metaltek and I thought that it would be perfect; a good solid team, with no real pressure and a nice UK program, and it would give me a bit more time to think about my future after cycling.
But at the end of January there was a problem when a sponsor pulled out so I found out that we weren’t going to get paid, there was just a spot for racing. But I figured that I was twenty-five and that I have to draw the line somewhere and think about my future.
So I thought what’s the quickest thing that I can go and do?
So I got my personal trainers qualification and I joined a local gym and started working there 40-50 hours a week.
I sort of got stuck into the real world and to be honest I didn’t really think about my bike. I sort of hated it to a certain degree. I still kept generally fit but I wasn’t out there doing four or five hours, I would just do one hour flat stick, or go out with a local bunch ride and that was it.
So you were sick of riding then?
Well, when you sacrifice and dedicate yourself to something for so many years and then your ultimate goal doesn’t happen… I didn’t see it so much as a failure, but it forces you to readjust your perspective.
It’s quite nice at first; not having that pressure, not having to watch what you eat, or how many beers you have. It was just nice just living a ‘normal’ life.
So what has kept you in the UK?
When I dragged my girlfriend over from Sydney she left a good job and I was bringing her here for something that wasn’t guaranteed. In the meantime she found her legs over here, she got into a good job and she has a nice lifestyle, so I would have been a right arsehole to say, ‘right, I’m done – let’s go back home.’
Did you stay in touch with the bike community in the UK while you were away from racing?
Yeah, here and there, but I didn’t really follow it I tried to focus on different things.
You’ve stayed fit mainly through your PT work then?
Yeah I’ve done a lot in the gym, and about 4 hours a week on the bike. From the end of January when I was about 68kg I’ve gone up to about 77kg. But my waist size has stayed the same, same belt buckle, it’s just upper body and bigger in the legs.
I’ve found that in those shorter efforts I’m more powerful than I was when I was racing, so I’m going to knock off a bit of upper body now and focus on the core and legs.
How did it come about that you decided to come back in to racing?
It was funny. At the end of January I was still just riding purely by feel and I was just doing my PT and trying to get into a bit of cycling coaching. Then I started to use Training Peaks and then I thought, ‘ah maybe I’ll put the heart rate strap back on’, and so I did and I started logging my own training so I could get a feel for how Training Peaks worked. Then I just started watching a bit of racing and I started to get that buzz…
Then I bumped into John and we had a meeting and I told him what I was doing. You know I’ve got no ambitions of trying to go Proconti or World Tour, but that I wanted to target Tour Series and that I could train enough around my business that I could be competitive there.
I think that appealed to him because I wasn’t going to scrap for stage race spots or anything like that.
So the Tour Series is your main goal?
Yes, that is what I’m aiming at, but if I get selected in the other races I’d definitely go there and do my best to help out the young guys at those races.
I think now I am really content where I am. As a cyclist you are always wanting more, but I’m happy where I am at now. I want more from the business world and I am hungry to do well in that, but I am happy with were I am as a cyclist and that can feel quite strange actually.