Family driving – Isuzu D-Max AT35

This is a first – as mentioned previously, I’m going to start writing about all things automotive as well as cycling. The write ups will be based on what the vehicle was like as a whole, for use as a family (I’ve two little rug rats, a two-year-old called Barnaby and a three-month-old called Elijah) and the practicality of living with it for a week. I’m very lucky that manufacturers are trusting me with their vehicles and also very thankful that they’re supplying them to me on loan for a week.

There is no escaping one thing with the AT35, it’s colossal size, this is a marriage between Isuzu and the crazy Icelandic company Arctic Trucks, hence the name. AT standing for Arctic Trucks and 35 for the size of the wheel, 35 inches. THIRTY-FIVE INCHES OF WHEEL, they’re seriously big, all weather all terrain tyres and you only get four, no spare, can you imagine the weight of a fully inflated wheel which has a 17″ alloy too. You’d need to be Geoff Capes to lift it.

The main updates which Arctic Trucks bring to the D-Max are, R17 315/70 35″ Nokian
Rotiva Tyres, 17″ x 10″ Alloy Wheels, Fox Performance Series Suspension and Flared Wheel Arch Extensions. Arctic Trucks bolt all this on to a fairly Standard D-Max, along with leather seats which has the Arctic Trucks logo stitched in. There are other features too, like heated front seats, Sat Nav, keyless start, rear camera and much needed rear parking sensors along with cruise control and the all-important IsoFix for your car seats!

But what does all this added extra do for the 2019 Pick-up of the year? The Fox Suspension boosts the ride height of a standard D-Max by 125mm meaning apart from an actual articulated lorry, you’re pretty much the highest thing on the road, which is a great driving position down the country lanes and is very comfortable on the motorway but around town is a little bit… well, you’re not exactly what some would describe as subtle. So, let’s look at what the car is like…

The Engine

When you look at this D-Max on steroids and when you sit in the driver’s seat for the first time you want to turn the engine on and hear a V8 bark in to life and burble away to match the looks. However, my two-year-old described it ‘Like tractor.’ it’s a 1.9 4, in line diesel good for 164ps and 360lb ft of torque and a 125,000- or five-year warranty. It’s known to be a very reliable motor and I don’t dispute it; however, it leaves straight line performance lacking. The hulk wasn’t built to sprint though, was he? The AT35 is unrivalled by other off-road pick-ups and would give a Defender a run for its money off-road. Towing, the AT35 can pull up to 3500kg and carry 1055kg in the bed – handy for all your building supplies, or iCandy peach and carry cot along with your Waitrose shopping.

Handling

The big tyres and bigger suspension do become a factor here, you can certainly feel the bumps as you’re going down the road and with no significant weight in the bed, going over speed bumps the back does buck around as you head over them. You have to put in more to the steering wheel than you would think in order to go around corners and attacking lanes at speed is a bit like expecting a cruise-liner to park in Venice. Three-point turns can become 5 point turns due to the vehicle’s length and wheel lock. Again, the AT35 can defend its self here and say it’s not designed to be going around corners on rails, nor to be negating supermarket car parks. But if it wasn’t built to do the everyday well as well as the excursion off-road, what was it built for?

A final note on the handling, I found the steering wheel a bit slippy and at low speeds the steering is very heavy due to the big tyres. Added together, you find yourself really going at the steering to get it going.

Family life

There is just so much space – so much space. There’s room for two iso-fix car seats in the back and you can fit someone in between them, maybe not for long journeys but for under an hour, a family of four and a mother-in-law can head out, pretty much anywhere, for the day.

The iso-fix is easy to locate. I have a Britax Romer Dual Fix for Barnaby and a Maxi-Cosi Easy Fix base with Maxi-Cosi pebble for Elijah. I found putting the seats in and taking them out again super easy and the height of the D-max helped, there was no digging around getting a sore back as you’re hunched over.

Obviously, there’s plenty of room in the bed, you’ll need a cover, hard top or otherwise though. Having a hard-top means, you basically have a boot the size of a small car so trips to Centre Parcs can be handled easily. I usually find it a bit of a squeeze to get my iCandy Peach chassis and carry cot in to the boot along with all the other things for a baby and two-year-old. However, here there was no issue. You could put that in, your weeks shopping and enough luggage for a two-week holiday and you wouldn’t even notice.

Turning up to kiddy clubs was a change though, the AT35 certainly stands out in the car park, I felt a little embarrassed at times opening the door other times it was just fun and made me smile.

Would I buy one?

I had many questions from on the AT35 and many people who were just stunned by the size and wanted to just see. I loved having to climb in and hop out, knowing that literally nothing could stop me in my tracks and the low-end grunt from the engine and size of the tyres.

I loved it, it was great fun. The utility feel of the AT35 inside left something to be desired but almost made me feel like I could take anything on.

The on the road price for this model was £46,203 and almost £54,000 for the top of the range Safir model. I don’t think that showed on the inside – there was plenty of plastic and while you had nice things like a much needed rear view camera, SatNav, heated seats, electric driver’s seat and leather upholstery it was not refined like a Mercedes X-class would be or like a luxury SUV of a similar price.

One thing you can’t buy in those vehicles though is the sense of fun and the knowledge that if you do find yourself all of a sudden dropped in the middle of a farmer’s field, there’ll be no issue in having to get out.

A smidge over 10 Grand less and this would be so appealing. If you could get all this car for £35,000 Absolutely, I’d buy one.

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Parenting and Professional Cycling: In Conversation with Daniel Lloyd

I’m incredibly excited to say that my Parenting and professional cycling series continues, this time with Dan Lloyd, Grand Tour finisher and current GCN presenter. Dan had a solid rise through the ranks of professional cycling in a short space of time and enjoyed success along the way. Dan didn’t start his career in professional cycling until after his 25th birthday so, there’s still hope out there for some!

  • At what age in your life do you think that you were interested by cycling and was there a certain inspiration which got you on the bike?

I got into it when I was 13.  My friend’s Uncle used to give him old copies of MBUK magazine, and it really sparked an interest for me.  I pestered my Dad to get me a MTB, and about 8 months later, for Christmas, he got me a Marin Muirwoods.  It was about £400, I loved it, and I loved the sport.  That was when I got addicted to it, basically.

  • What came first professional cycling or parenting? Am I right in thinking they coincided around the same time?

For me it was slightly different to convention, in that when I met my wife, our older son Ralf was already 3, so I didn’t do the early years with him.  I was 25 at the time, and still hadn’t really made it.  Lorraine had to be patient with both me and Ralf from that respect, as I continued to try and make a career out of it.  So you’re right, they kind of coincided.  Jude was born in 2011, which was the year that I didn’t get my contract renewed with Garmin, so it has never really been such a factor in his life.

  • What was it like travelling Europe with a small baby at home and a first time mum? Did you have much time to think about what was going on at home or were you focused on racing and your job?

I’d say I was still very focussed.  I think every pro cyclist is, even if becoming a parent changes your life and outlook significantly.  When Jude was born, for example, he was a little early, so I came home the day after Amstel, landed at 2pm, and was back home with Lorraine and a baby by 11pm.  In my head I was still going to go back for Fleche and Liege, as I was due a break after that period anyway, but the team told me to stay at home.

I have always been very fortunate with Lorraine, she’s a real doer, from family life to work life, she just gets things done, without (too) much fuss!  That makes a big difference.

  • You must be passionate about cycling to get in to racing but is there a point that you think, this is no longer my passion, this is my job and a way to provide for my family?

I don’t think I was at the top level long enough for that to become ‘a thing’ for me.  The first time that anything like that dawned on me was when my contract wasn’t renewed.  Until that point, my career had always been on an upward trajectory, both in terms of the level that I was riding, and also the money I was earning.  The end of 2011 was tough for a few weeks, as I had no plan for what to do after racing, and I suddenly realised how hard it was going to be, to earn a similar amount in the ‘real world’.

Again, Lorraine came into her own.  She hadn’t been working for a year, but immediately realised what the situation could be, and went out and got a job.  As it turned out, I landed on my feet with a few other things in 2012, and then GCN came along at the end of that year, but it was only really that time at the end of 2011 where I realised what financial responsibility I had to provide for my family.

  • It must be easy for people to forget that you were, once, a professional cyclist before a GCN presenter and Eurosport commentator. Considering you’ve ridden in four classics and finished two Giro’s and a Tour, what is your proudest moment on the bike and also off of it?

Proudest moment on the bike will always be my first Tour of Flanders.  It was the race that I always loved the most, and to be honest I don’t think I ever thought I’d ride it.  The whole experience was amazing, from start to finish.  The start in Bruges gave me good bumps – that massive square packed with fans, riding up on to the podium with Thor and Heino, that was brilliant.  And then in the race itself, I was going really well (for me).  Between the Paterberg and the Koppenberg, I’d made the front selection, and so Andreas Klier said to attack if I could.  I went, Chavanel, Quinziato and Leif Hoste followed me, and so for a while, deep into the race, I was at the front.

After that, the dream soon came to an end, the lights went out for me when Chavanal attacked, and I was later passed by Boonen, Devolder and Pozzato at warp speed, but it was a great experience, particularly with Heino getting 2nd on the day.

Off the bike, I’m of course proudest of my family.  Like everyone, we’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve come through strong and it’s great to see how well Ralf and Jude are doing in life.  From a work perspective, I’m very proud of what we’ve all achieved at GCN.  We didn’t really know what we were doing at the start, we were just kind of making it up as we went along, but every single person worked their arses off, and that paid off, just as it would do in sport.  What gives me the most satisfaction is the feedback we get from the public.  I like to think that we made cycling accessible, and fun, which is why we all got into it in the first place.

  • Your first Grand Tour came in 2009 at the Giro d’Italia, which you’re now doing a very good job on reporting for Eurosport, what was that first tour like, the training, the preparation, riding it? When did you find out you were going to be riding it that year and how did that feel?

The preparation was awful – I’d come down with some sort of bug in the lead up to the race, so I just wasn’t feeling myself.  It got to the point where I felt so bad in training, that I was considering calling management to say that I wasn’t in a fit state to ride.  It’s the last feeling you want to have on the lead up to your first Grand Tour.

Thankfully, I felt good during the race itself.  I made the mistake of eating and drinking too much (on the bike!), though, and put on 4kgs in 2 weeks.  I was just so fearful of bonking or not having enough energy to make it through, that I went overboard.  It was tough, but also rewarding – we got 4 stage wins, and Carlos was up there overall.  The whole thing was a massive learning curve, but like many things in cycling, it was fun, in hindsight!

  • You strike me as a man who would have a very understanding wife and who would support your training fully by looking after the kids while you went off galivanting on the bike… What was it like for you?

I’ve already alluded to that, above, but you’re right, Lorraine was always very supportive of my training and racing.  And that’s one of the reasons that I don’t ride so much now.  I’m still away a fair bit, and up at the office a lot, so I just can’t justify getting home and heading out on the bike for 2 hours, it wouldn’t be fair.

  • One thing I feel when I go off on my bike / train and leave my wife with the kids is guilt, I feel guilty that I’m having a nice time away from the kids relaxing, while they’re both probably screaming, crying, causing havoc and driving my wife mad. Do you ever get over that?

Yeah, you do.  Ralf is 16, Jude is 8, we’ve got past that stage.  In fact, if Lorraine and I want to head out for the evening, Ralf looks after Jude – they get along pretty well.  At this stage of life, the stresses are less, it’s just a case of taking them to their various clubs, sport etc.  And to be honest, with Ralf driving in a few months time, it’s going to get even easier.

I used to get a heavy heart when I was shutting the door to go away for a few weeks.  It wasn’t so much guilt at not behind able to do my part, but just the wrenching feeling of knowing how much I was going to miss them.  That actually got harder as I got older, I don’t know why.

My tactic was always to claim that I’d had very hard days when I was away, but I’m pretty sure I was never believed…..

  • What advice would you have to any cycling parent to young kids?

That depends.  If you’re a pro, you need to use it as extra motivation, to push yourself harder, to be more efficient with your time, to make the most of every moment that you’re having to spend away from your family.

If cycling is just a hobby, it’s a really tough one.  I would say that most people have to throttle right back on the amount of time they dedicate to cycling, and I also think that’s the way it should be.  It takes up an enormous amount of time, and money too.  The parenting phase of your life is a long one, and I guess it never really ends, but there will come a time when you’ll have a bit more freedom again, and that is the point at which you can spend longer cycling again.  Before that – concentrate on your family, just ride if or when you have time.

  • You’ve got the power to change one thing about professional cycling, what is it?

Based on the first week of the Giro, I’d say long boring sprint stages.  Unfortunately, like most, I don’t have the answer.  I like watching the sprints, I have so much respect for what those guys and girls do, but the 5 hours or so that comes before it is, I think, a terrible advert for our sport.  If you’ve never watched a bike race before, and you flick over with 80kms to go on a flat stage, you’re never going to watch a bike race again.  It’s a tough one – I’m all for tradition, but at the same time I don’t want cycling to get left behind because it wasn’t willing to adapt.

 

So there we have it – Daniel Lloyd on Parenting and Professional Cycling, for me, I will take away the advice cycling and having young kids – Dan is right, when it comes to it you do have to take a step back from your hobbies when you become a parent. Accepting that and with less peer pressure and time, it get’s easier and more about the enjoyment of cycling that clocking miles and high average speeds.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this series and if there’s anyone who you would like to see interviewed, comment below if there is anyone you would like and I would do my damnedest to track them down!

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Train like a Pro with Wattbike

This weekend saw the return of Former Road Race World Champion, Lizzie Deignan. After one year out giving birth to their baby daughter, Orla, Lizzie returned to racing at the Amstel Gold Race.

Lizzie turned herself inside out with 40km to go with a storming break, her efforts were not enough, with Canyon-SRAM’s Polish rider, Katarzyna Niewiadoma the eventual winner, attacking on the final climb of the Cauberg and holding off Annemiek Van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) who was in hot pursuit.

In an interview with Lizzie published on this site, she said she would forgo all other races to win the UCI World Championships held in her home county of Yorkshire, in September. Lizzie hopes to do this with the help of Wattbike which she claims to have been her go to training tool during pregnancy and beyond. Helping Lizzie to squeeze in training around naps and after bed time!

“I’m really excited to rejoin the peloton and to race with my new teammates at Trek Segafredo, first at the Ardennes and then fittingly back on my home roads for the Tour de Yorkshire. I can’t wait to race in front of the home crowd again! It’s been a whirlwind year off the bike to have baby Orla and I’m looking forward to the new challenge of racing while being a working Mum! I couldn’t have done it without the support of my sponsors including Wattbike. Having the Wattbike to hand throughout pregnancy and for my return to cycling has been invaluable – allowing me to carry on riding safely in all weathers and with a big bump! It remains my go-to training tool.” Lizzie Deignan

Wattbike, who last year returned to track success with the prolific and inspiring HUUB Wattbike Test Team hinted at more sponsorship opportunities for 2019 that are yet to be announced.

“At Wattbike we are all really excited to see Lizzie’s return to cycling, we have been supporting her for three years now. It has been great to see her using the Wattbike throughout her pregnancy and her training as she returns to form. We’re really optimistic about the future and cannot wait to see how it progresses”.
Rich Baker

After being founded in 2000 Wattbike launched its pioneering indoor power trainer in 2008. It is now an industry-leading manufacturer of indoor cycle trainers, with a proven heritage in performance cycling. Wattbike trainers generate the world’s most accurate power, technique and performance data, captured through cutting-edge analysis and with unrivalled accuracy. With a desire to create the ultimate indoor cycling experience and a reputation for true innovation, Wattbike trainers perfectly replicate the sensation of riding on the road for professionals and beginners alike.

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Times They Are Changing.

A quick update from Pusher of Pedals – there’s a little change to the site coming up!

No longer will the blog be dedicated to just bikes, but also cars and family lifestyle. The automotive world has been a life long passion of mine, in my work (TV and Event production) life I’ve worked on more car shows than anything and I’ve loved every minute of it. Top Gear, Car SOS, Stars In Their Cars while also working on CarFest and London Classic Car Show.

This, to you, may seem strange, how are these connected? Well, my life has changed, I’m now a parent, I’ve two boys, Barnaby who is two and Elijah who is two months. They are my world and the way in which I look at life is now different.

So, from here on in, I’ll not only be writing reviews on bikes and cycling related products like clothing, tech and supplements but also kiddy tag alongs, kiddy seats, helmets – while also looking at the automotive world. Family cars, with the occasional sports car, how do they swallow up everything which family life brings and are they useable and likeable?

There will be change BUT change is mainly for the better.

As ever, your feedback will be listened to and look at building a better more useable blog for you to follow and enjoy.

Stay tuned and hopefully we’ll all enjoy the ride together, on two wheels or four!

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