Life

20 Questions: Chocolate and truffle fries fuel bike champ Graeme Irwin

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Carrickfergus man and former motocross champion-turned tarmac racer, Graeme Irwin

Graeme Irwin will race at the SSE Arena in Belfast this month as part of the Arenacross Tour
Gail Bell

Former British motocross champion-turned tarmac racer, Graeme Irwin

1

Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

I have two kids, so an alarm is not needed. I usually wake early and head downstairs to grab a coffee to kick start my day. Most mornings, I turn on the news, catch up on social media and plan my day – either out riding my motocross bike or spending time with the family. At the minute, I'm training for the Arenacross Tour which kick-starts later this month at the SSE Arena in Belfast, so I'm riding a lot more.

2

What might you eat in a typical working day for…Breakfast?

On a good day, I'll eat scrambled eggs, avocado and sourdough toast.

Lunch?

Lunch usually consists of cooked chicken in some way – my favourite is a wrap with mayo, red onion and coleslaw.

Dinner?

I eat dinner with the family and our favourite winter meal is fillet steak, peppercorn sauce, truffle fries and roasted vegetables.

3

Is nutrition important to you?

Yes, nutrition is hugely important to me, as a professional rider. I've ridden motorcycles to an international level and you have to be on your 'A' game when it matters. In motocross especially, the races are usually long and it's likely that I'll exert more energy riding my bike and than in an average gym session. I make sure I get balanced nutrients before and after training sessions, as well as making sure my body gets what it needs on the big race days.

4

Best meal ever?

This was in a restaurant in Belfast called Hadskis. It does the best chateaubriand and the truffle fries are the bomb. Yes, I have a thing for truffle fries...

5

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Chocolate, every time… when it's not truffle fries.

6

Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?

I don't tend to diet, but devise a calorie-deficit diet, if needed. I keep my meals nutrient-rich, but will keep portions low if I need to lose weight, as it's all about how you feel on the bike. At the moment, I feel great, so I'll probably maintain a healthy balance as much as possible.

7

Do you take health supplements?

Yes, in peak season I'll use protein shakes after hard workouts and after riding, to help replenish my muscles. Also, water is the best thing you can take, especially after a race. It's so easy to get dehydrated after exerting yourself.

8

How do you relax?

I tend to watch movies on Netflix to relax or spend time with my family.

9

Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple.

10

Stairs or lift?

Stairs – mainly because I hate waiting for a lift if I know I can already be on my way up the stairs.

11

Do you have a daily exercise regime?

I'm pretty lucky that I get to ride my bike every day – we usually ride for a few hours at a time. I always try to push myself whenever I get on the bike. I've had a track made for me specifically for Arenacross as the racing is very intense, so I need to make sure I'm ‘bike fit'. Outside riding, I like to run or do a cardio session in the gym. Most days I stretch – being a rider, I've had my share of falls, so it's important to stretch to avoid further injuries.

12

Best tip for everyday fitness?

Be motivated and set some goals, no matter how small. I have a 'no excuses' mindset.

13

On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are and how fit would you like to be?

For racing motorcycles, I'm a 10. You have to be if you want to stay at the top of your game. It's my job to put myself in the best physical condition possible, so that's what I'm aiming for in the gym so that fitness complements my riding.

14

Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?

No, I haven't. I'm not sure what would be good for me, but I'm open to suggestions.

15

Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?

School was great but I was more interested in racing bikes, to be honest. School sports weren't really my thing; I just loved anything with an engine when I was a kid.

16

Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?

I've definitely had career-changing injuries but I love bike sports so much that I will continue to look at pushing the boundaries. I'm still young and I want to make the most of it and my lifestyle.

17

Best health/ lifestyle advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?

Enjoy what you do and you'll never work a day in your life. Funny, I was at an event with five-times World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea recently and he said the same thing.

18

Who inspires you or who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness/ attitude to life?

Friends and family who work hard and have great passion for whatever they do inspire me constantly.

19

What time do you normally go to bed and do you get enough sleep?

I have no set bedtime, as such, but I'm a little grumpy if I don't get my eight hours.

20

Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?

Yes, of course; I ride bikes for a living and of course there are dangers, but that's all part of it.

Graeme Irwin makes a high-profile return to the dirt at Belfast's SSE Arena on January 17 and 18.

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