For our second instalment of Season 2 for Spotlight- we have the super fast Red Walkters aka Redster. For those who don’t know him, check out his youtube channel here: The Redster. This is where we first became aware of him with his race vlogs and funny insights into the world of racing. He has been part of some very good teams indeed and his future looks very bright- he will be on the podcast to talk further about that- so get yourselves up to speed and hear all about this talented young rider.
Name: Red Walters
Teams you ride for or clubs you are part of: Currently racing for Black Cyclists Network
How did you get started in cycling and when?
It was a weird one for me I think. It was coming up to GCSEs and I really wanted something to pursue, I wasn’t really sure what, but I’ve always been competitive and have loved all forms of racing. I did competitive dinghy sailing since around the age of 4, but had fallen out of love with that. I decided it was between cycling, which I’d only ever seen as a mode of transport, and remote control car racing. Whatever it was that pushed me towards cycling, I’m grateful, definitely picked the right sport. I started by doing a couple of rides on my dads hybrid a week, literally 20 minutes or so, before I made a deal. If I achieved majority A/A*s in my GCSEs (late 2015, age 16) my parents would get me my own road bike. Managed that, got a bike, and raced it after having it less than a week. I got spat, but I was hooked.
Favourite places to ride? Any particular roads or segments?
I love the new forest, which usually has pretty nice roads and views. My favourite part is Lepe, awesome view of the isle of wight and home of the finest millionaire’s shortbread the world has ever witnessed!
What disciplines do you ride? Do you have preferences?
I race road and track. It’s hard to pick a favourite. I love the variability of the road and how there are so many more aspects to pay attention to, although I do get better results on the track. Unfortunately there’s just nowhere near as much high level track racing available to me. I also tried cyclocross a couple times on a mountain bike, was super fun, but didn’t do well.
You first came to the attention of TCC with your Youtube channel a few years ago where you’ve shared your racing and insight. Is it easy to balance the recording/editing and racing/training?
It’s not the easiest balance for sure. I’m massively grateful to my parents who used to come to a lot of races to get footage, without which, I doubt I’d have made a lot of those videos. I remember doing mid-week crits that finished at 9, I’d get home at 10, start editing, and not finish until 2 or 3am before going to college the next day.
What would be your advice for juniors and riders younger than you who are looking to get into racing (whether that be road, track or anything else!)
For people considering racing, I’d say start with a few chaingangs if you have any local to you. But after that, to quote Shia LaBeouf, just do it. I see so many people put it off and off. I think it’s just best to go and give it a try. Some people will love it, some people will prefer leisure riding, but you don’t know if you don’t try.
How do you balance riding with general life? What do you do outside of cycling?
I’m quite lucky at the moment that I’m able to just do occasional work, so there isn’t a massive challenge to balance. I last had full time work in 2018, and it’s definitely a challenge to balance the fatigue, and to the people who can pull it off, I have massive respect.
Talk us through a week of your training and riding, what are the best and worst parts?
Generally, I’ll have rest days Monday and Friday when I’ll do a good amount of stretching and foam rolling, and sometimes a chilled mountain bike ride to loosen the legs. Then the 5 remaining days will have a mix of endurance rides, intervals and weight training. An example might be
3 hours tuesday with 3x3x3 minute efforts.
2 Hours Wednesday steady with a 90 minute deadlift session in the evening
5 hours thursday with some low cadence Z3 work
3 hours saturday with a couple dozen 20 second efforts (attack simulation) and a 90 minute squat session in the evening
6 hours steady zone 2 sunday
Sometimes if my coach is feeling extra spicy he’ll add 3×10 squats to the end of the 6 hours too!
You have ridden for some great clubs and teams, including Vitus Pro cycling and now Nopinz Symec. Are there major changes when moving teams or is it an easy transition to make?
There’s definitely a lot that changes, I think the main thing is the new teammates, the closer we all are, the better we will perform. Unfortunately last year I got very few chances to race with the team, so I was really happy to have a team this year, where half of which I was already really good mates with. The first race we did as a team this year, I turned to my mate Matt after 5 minutes of us dominating the attacks and said “this is bloody awesome!”
The past season/year
You had a lot of success in the year- what were some of the highlights?
There were 2 for me last year. The first came at the Andover Cycling Festival Criterium, I hadn’t won a town center crit, and after only 1 opportunity to race with the team by July, I was desperate to prove myself and so hungry to get the win. I felt good technically on the circuit, and after a crash meant a restart with 5 laps to go, it was super intense. I managed to pull it off, and it was one of the races my Mum came to, which made it even better.
The other was London 6 Day U21 Cup. It was October, I was way over raced and over trained. I’d taken a week off early in September, then trained just for this race. The first 2 of the 3 nights of racing, I didn’t feel great, we managed to get a few points but were down in 7th. And on the final night with a near full crowd in the Olympic stadium, my partner and I managed to take a lap, moving us up to 2nd. Doing that with the commentator shouting and the crowd going a bit mad was definitely a top moment for me.
What did you learn from the season that you are taking forward?
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Pretty much the whole season I was trying to prove myself so I could get opportunities to race with the team. Every single race was like “I need to win” which led to me possibly not racing as smart as I could have.
Which riders impressed you the most when racing, whether in your category or another?
Tom Day, my madison partner. He was a first year junior pushing obscene numbers.
Ali Slater, my teammate, it’s one thing to watch it on the british cycling highlights, but that guy is ridiculously strong, and has godly bike handling skills, had some mega bad luck unfortunately.
Harry Johnson, didn’t really know him that well at the start of the year, he kept getting better, now we’re good mates, and both rode for Nopinz.
What were your goals at the start of the season/year?
I’d like to preface this by saying I’m super ambitious, so I often set lofty goals. I really wanted to get a Top 5 in a UCI race, then I really wanted to win a round of the tour series, and the national Madison Championships (which will probably still go ahead). I wanted to do 1500 watts for 10 seconds, which I’ve done, and 1700 watts for 5 seconds (not quite there yet).
You had a brilliant start to the season with Nopinz Symec, was that frustrating to have it end just as you were getting going?!
Definitely! I was super miserable for the first part of lockdown, I think we had a really strong group of guys and could’ve done some pretty cool things at races. I managed to keep training but all of april and may were pretty dark times for me for various reasons. But the sun and prospect of racing in august is really exciting for me.
How has lockdown affected your plans and what have you done to adjust?
In terms of training, I initially just switched to a winter type training style, i.e. a lot of strength and endurance work, and am adding back the intensity now. Overall the most frustrating bit is the fact that I only have 1 more year as an U23 next year, so will need to capitalize on that.
Do you think racing and riding will change once things are back to ‘normal’?
Assuming they don’t change the field limits at races (which I imagine they might at first) I can’t think of a reason why it would be too different in the actual races. Everyone will be very motivated though so it’ll definitely be some hard racing!
What are your plans for post-lockdown?
Race at every single possible opportunity I get! It’s hard to say what I’ll target though because not many races are 100% confirmed. If I can I’ll do some racing in Belgium and France as the racing over there suits me way more for the most part. I’d really like to do some more 6 day racing. The fact that I haven’t been racing for a few months will mean I can really extend my season into december time I imagine.
How do you go about choosing new goals for the next season/year?
My general rule for the last 3 years has been to aim for +100 watts on my 5 second power, although I think that’s gonna be a big challenge this time. Although it’s important and I do train it, I don’t tend to make FTP goals. My main goal is to just be able to race UCI races, after racing one this year, and getting distanced only in the last 1 of the 200km, I think it’s a level I can compete at and something I’ll do everything I can to achieve.
Do you have any plans or aspirations away from just racing? Adventure rides etc
I really enjoy riding off-road, and have been riding a fair bit of MTB as I was without a road bike for a couple of periods over lock down (team bike went back, then a few weeks later my bike got disintegrated by a car). No adventure plans yet, but I think riding in wales or the peaks would be pretty cool.
Current bike: 2006 Felt F65
Shout out to my friend David for hooking me up with a frame and groupset when I really needed help.
There’s a “supreme” sticker on one of the wheels haha
I was riding my “Element-R” which I’d bought from china, and custom sprayed myself in my garage, but the internal cable routing has never been good, and the lack of stiffness makes it feel like it’ll snap if I sprint, and the left shifter had broken
Kit you can’t leave home without:
Aftershokz Aeropex, I can’t even believe I went 4 years of cycling with no music, I can’t leave without them now! Being able to hear music and traffic is a big bonus
My next race entry!
Nutrition and fuelling whilst riding: Always SiS. The bars are great, but their new bakes are awesome! Their rego makes a big difference to my recovery too.
Quick fire round
Favourite pro and why: It changes a lot, but at the moment, Justin Williams, when you watch his videos with his bro cory, it just looks like their sprints are unbeatable, and that’s what I aspire to.
Best bike shop and why: Melksham Cycle Center in Bath, helped us out a lot this year
Indoor training or outside?
Outside! back in 2018 I did 80% of my winter training on the turbo, and I think that’s cracked me for life
Flat or hilly?
Flat + short climbs for racing. And for training, all hills are great!
Dry or wet conditions for racing?
The hotter the better, don’t mind the rain. But if it’s cold my muscles don’t work.
Milan-San Remo (we name the last climb on our chaingang the Poggio)
Giro, Tour or Vuelta?
Giro, love the mystery of everyone’s condition
Any songs you sing in your head whilst riding?
Varies a lot, this week it’s 3 Nights by Dominic Fike
Describe your riding and cycling style in 4 words: I just love sprinting!
Finally, please recommend 5 riders to follow on Instagram:
@bodgepro (my meme account, shameless plug)
Massive thanks to Red for this- stay tuned for more in the coming weeks!