Name: Alastair Carr
Languages: French, English
Philosophy: Go Fast, Take Risks
Favourite Food: Lasagne with a nice salad and some garlic bread
LF: What is your cycling background?
AC: I started cycling when I was 15 after watching the Sydney Olympics on a rainy day in a caravan whilst on holiday with my family. I made the impulsive decision that, one day, I wanted to be at the Olympics. I decided that cycling looked pretty easy, so the next day I jumped on my dads mountain bike and rode 4km to the shops. It nearly killed me. I persevered and rode my 1st season as a junior in 2005 seeing progression in leaps and bounds as I did more and more races. After racing in Belgium and riding the Junior Tour of Ireland I decided that I wanted to race abroad. I rode one season as senior in the UK to finish my A-levels and then heading to France. Here I proceeded to get battered into the ground week in week out riding Elite Nationale and UCI 1.2 races. After a tough first season in Alsace I moved west to Brittany where I enjoyed a much better year. My French language progressed with my racing and I began to settle in to the racing scene. After a great 2009 I moved to a big team in 2010 in the hope of really moving up to the top level of racing. Unfortunately a skiing accident at a training camp in January meant I only began racing in July, but I still had a great end of season getting on the podium several times. After this I scaled back my racing and started university in France before joining La Fuga. I’ve visited and ridden or raced in practically every region of France and enjoy it immensely.
LF: When did you start working for La Fuga?
AC: I started with La Fuga in June 2011, I had known Ian (creator of La Fuga) for a while having raced with his brother, Simon, at junior level and raced on the same team as him (Felt Racing) in 2007. He began La Fuga the year I started racing in France and the growth of the company ran concurrently with my education in French racing and culture. I had always been too busy with racing to offer my services until I did, but once I did I enjoyed it so much I carried on!
LF: What bike are you riding this year?
AC: This year my bike is the same as our Rental Fleet, that being a Specialized Tarmac SL3 Expert. I’ve ridden Specialized for 4 out of my 8 cycling seasons now and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them. I especially like the stealthy matt black paint job this year. I wouldn’t say I’m the best of cycling mechanics, I’ve learnt my fair share and know more than your average Joe, but as long as the bike works I care more about how it looks!
LF: What’s your favourite aspect of working for La Fuga?
AC: Whilst obviously I love the riding, the great hotels and amazing food, my favourite part about working for La Fuga is the variety of people I get to meet and talk to. A La Fuga guest is generally a successful person and for me it’s always interesting to get an insight in to how they arrived where they are, when and why they started cycling, where they’re going next. I’ve spent many an hour chatting to fugisti on mountains and valley roads around Europe and with such an array of backgrounds, nationalities, professions and personalities there’s always something to talk about.
LF: What’s your favourite climb on a La Fuga tour?
AC: Here I’m not going to go with favourite, I’m actually going to go with least favourite and this has to be the ‘Muro di Sormano’ on our Giro di Lombardia Ride and Watch Weekend in October. This is quite literally the hardest climb I have ever ridden and climbs up at about 20% for about 4km. Every vertical meter climbed is marked on the road as you go up. It seems as though some of these numbers are only a meter apart themselves, although I’m pretty sure my Garmin never read 45%….This road though really does have to be ridden to be believed and once you make it to the top you’re rewarded with spectacular views of the Lombardia region in amazing autumn bloom and fantastic parma ham sandwiches in the café. The descents not too bad either…
LF: And your favourite (or least favourite) descent?
AC: A tricky one. I’ve ridden so many great descents on so many La Fuga tours that it’s difficult to pick one out. One of my favourite descending experiences though was during our Rapha Randonnée Alpine in September last year. We met Andy Hampsten (first non-european winner of the Giro d’Italia and winner of a Tour de France stage to Alpe d’Huez, our destination that day) at the top of the Col du Glandon after I’d inadvertently blasted past him, not knowing who he was, as we reached the top. We chatted for a while before he left with what must be his tag line (and my new philosophy)…’Go Fast, Take Risks’. Whilst usually I’m a very responsible guide, the opportunity to descend with a legend of cycling doesn’t come around all that often. So as my group came up to his I eased past him on a corner with a manoeuvre clearly designed to goad him into following me. I knew his racing brain wouldn’t be able to resist the offer and he took the bait. Once I turned around and saw him on my wheel it was full throttle from there on. We both duly forgot about our guiding duties (hey, there was only one road to go down?!) and blasted down the mountain. Once we eventually decided that enough was perhaps enough, it was a nice moment as he rode along side and said ‘That was a lot of fun’.
LF: What’s your favourite hotel experience on a La Fuga tour and why?
AC: Obviously the fantastic hotels are the big bonus after a long day in the saddle or drivers seat. Whilst I enjoy the majesty of the big 5* hotels, there’s a lot to be said about the smaller hotels along some of our routes. My personal favourite is the Chateau de Beauregard on our Rapha Randonnée Pyrenean. This small, renovated chateau is set in a very quiet location on the outskirts of St Girons. The rooms have kept their quaintness whilst still being comfortable and the Spa is incredible. The restaurant is also a fantastic experience with a huge log-burning fireplace that gives the renovated barn an incredible atmosphere. The service is always great and the breakfast superb with a selection of warm breads, jams and cereals. Top Notch!
LF: What are your interests outside of cycling (if any)?
AC: As anyone who’s been a full time cyclist will know, there’s a lot of downtime…a hell of a lot. I used to fill mine with playing a few instruments, reading rubbish books and Wikipedia pages and the occasional piece of art. The university I went to in France was actually L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, or school of fine art so it’s always been a general interest of mine (although the fact I only managed one year is telling of the fact it isn’t all I want to do). Now though I barely have time to think, so organisation is the name of the game and my artistic needs have to be satisfied through the quick and easy medium of photography!
LF: What are you most looking forwards to in 2012?
AC: I think this year is lining up to be a great one. Last year I came in with no idea about what went on behind a La Fuga tour and was just there to make sure we didn’t forget anything and that the trip went smoothly. This year I’ll be seeing trips through from conception, to organization, to execution and I think that is the most exciting thing for me. Something I’ve been working on more personally has been a custom tour across the Pyrenees for a group of guys coming from Australia. Over 12 days in August with two rest days and more mountains than you could shake a stick at, it’s a really exciting trip that I’m hoping will run as smoothly as possible!