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Jason Queally's Paralympic Journey

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Article posted: 16/09/2013

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Jason Queally was at the vanguard of British Cycling’s success story. Following on from the foundations of Chris Boardman’s gold at the Barcelona Olympics, his gold in the Kilo and silver in the team sprint at the 2000 Sydney Games were pivotal building blocks towards Britain’s future domination of world cycling.

Adding World, European and Commonwealth medals to his tally, now 43, you might think he’d be slowing down but he’s not only set himself the challenge of representing GB at the Rio Paralympics as a tandem pilot but, to do so, converting his sprinter’s physique and physiology to the very different demands of endurance events.

The Insight Zone will be following Jason’s journey, looking at his training, the unique demands of Paralympic cycling and the ups and downs of his quest for Rio. At this early stage we find out where he’s at, the riding he’s been doing and the next steps along the way.

I am training to improve my aerobic capacity and am spending as much time as I can on the road to hopefully convert as much fast twitch into slow twitch so I can go as quick as I can over the longer distances.

Insight Zone: Where are you at the moment and what are you doing?

Jason Queally: I’m part of the Paralympic Team. I will be able to ride for Great Britain, I think in the New Year. I am looking at targeting possibly the road time trial and pursuit and am currently looking for a stoker (rear rider on a tandem-ed). There’s a chap I’m working with at the moment from Hereford and he seems quite talented so there might be potential there in the future but we’re always on the lookout for people to ride with so if there’s anybody out there, please come a knocking.

Insight Zone: Why have you decided to take on this new challenge?

Jason Queally: I love riding my bike, that’s the real honest answer. I would be riding my bike if I wasn’t part of the Paralympic Team. The riding that I am doing now is very different to the riding I did as a kilo rider and even as a team pursuit rider. Obviously as a kilo rider, it was all based around speed and similarly with team pursuit, it’s that quick now, it’s like sprinting for 4k. With the 4k individual pursuit and road time trial, the physiology is different so I am training to improve my aerobic capacity and am spending as much time as I can on the road to hopefully convert as much fast twitch into slow twitch so I can go as quick as I can over the longer distances. I have been doing it for about, I think nearly a year now, and I’ve not engaged in any sprint activity, lifting, you name it, anything to promote big muscles, I’ve not done it. I’ve gone completely the opposite way and am really enjoying it because it’s something new.

Insight Zone: Have you changed physically?

Jason Queally: I haven’t in all honesty. It’s a bit of a bummer because I was around about 88 kilos at my best as a kilo rider and, even as a team pursuit rider I was around about that and I was hoping that I would lose some muscle mass with all the mileage that I do on the road but it’s not happening! I’m probably about 85-86 kilos at the minute so there might have lost a couple, I don’t know but it is certainly not what I’d want. I wish it would come off a lot, lot easier. It’s not too critical with the pursuit because there’s no gradient involved, you’re still on the flat so it’s power to frontal area so as long as aerobically I get more powerful, the weight’s not really an issue. But, if I do end up trying to do some time trialling, obviously if there’s any lumps and bumps there it’ll be a disadvantage.

Jason Queally pilots Anthony Kappes MBE.                            Picture by: Joe Giddens/EMPICS Sport                                   

Insight Zone: So what does a typical week’s training look like for you at the moment?

Jason Queally: Right, at the minute it’s Monday to Friday. I spend the weekend with the kids and I drop my boy off at school in the morning and then, over Monday to Friday, I usually manage to get in about twenty-five hours on the road. That wasn’t in at the deep end, twenty-five hours. When I started, to be honest, I would pop within a couple of hours and I have been able to extend that range over this year and I am up to that volume. It’s getting more comfortable so whether I’ll start putting some more time into it or maybe changing the intensity, it’s something I am going to have to think about.

Insight Zone: Is it all at a fairly steady state intensity at the moment?

Jason Queally: It’s a mixture because I vary the terrain. On a Monday and a Friday, I ride around Lancaster and I go up to the Trough and ride for five hours. That’s hilly and as I say, being 86 kilos, I struggle. I’m not a good climber so, if you got to look at power data, heart rate data, there’s a lot of variability there. On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, I stay around Chorley and it’s a lot flatter. It’s based around steady state but there is a nice mix there. What I might start looking at now is within those training efforts, maybe doing an effort on a hill because I am getting a little bit better at it. One of the key things for me is knowing what competition, or what competitions I might be doing because once I know that information, I can work backwards into competition. If I am going to use the aerobic capacity that I have obtained, I’ll have to tweak it. With a 4k pursuit, you’re going to have to start doing some very high intensity stuff so once I start to know that, I will start to tweak and see what happens.

Insight Zone: So, you’re riding a tandem on the track, what was it like the first time you did it?

Jason Quellay: It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Quite a few people were, “Whoah, whoah, are you sure, whoah I’m not sure about that, it’s so difficult, it’s so different” and I’m not the best bike handler in the world anyway, so I was more wary of the stoker to be honest. If I fell off yeah, but when you’re on your own, it’s your fault at the end of the day but if you’ve got somebody on the back of you, it’s your responsibility so when I first came to the track and rode it, I was quite apprehensive and quite nervous but literally within a few minutes, it didn’t feel that different to riding a solo bike so as soon as I felt confident with it, there wasn’t much of an issue. I was as competent or incompetent on a tandem as I was on a solo bike!

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