Ashley Palmer-Watts, biking is about mateship×

Ashley Palmer-Watts, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal group executive chef, rides off the stresses of life in a famous restaurant by hitting the road with his mates in the Riesling Riders. He answers our Time Out Q&A.

First memory of riding a bike?

My very first bike was a yellow and blue Raleigh BMX bike. I grew up in a Dorset village, so your first bike was a route to being free and getting into trouble with your mates.

How many bikes and how do you know when you have too many?

I have two road bikes: a Pinarello Dogma 2, with Dura Ace 9000, and a Pinarello F8 in matt carbon with Dura Ace Di2, Pro Vibe carbon bars, Stages power meter and lightweight Meilenstein black carbon wheels. My good friend Lincoln Brown at the Bike Gallery in Melbourne built the F8. It's a great bike.
 

Well, let's say that the Dogma 2 was a pricey ride. The F8 was just under $20,000, but when the pound was strong against the dollar, I couldn't resist.

Dream bike and equipment?

I can safely say that the F8 is my dream bike. Lincoln put together the ultimate machine, in my opinion.

Kind of riding?

I ride for a few reasons. Riding with my friends in Melbourne is brilliant; they push me harder than I'd push myself. I have made friends for life through the Bike Gallery. I also try to keep fit, especially with being a chef, having a young family and travelling a lot. But one of the best things about riding is the time to just think, sort things into an order and just let my mind wander to be creative.

Tips to become a better rider?

Try to join a shop ride to get started. You'll improve by pushing yourself on rides with good cyclists.

Kilometres a week?

On a good week, when riding to and from work (the long way), plus a couple of weekend rides, I'll do between 160 and 180 kilometres.

Hills or the flat?

I love both, but I do love climbing hills, especially when I'm at the top.

What do you love most about cycling?

Having space to think, the feeling of getting out and working hard, great banter with mates and the attention to detail that comes with working on bikes and finding weight savings.

What do you dislike about cycling?

Drivers who show absolutely no respect to riders. The majority of drivers are great, but there's always a handful of dangerous people out there.

Who would you most like to go on a long ride with?

My group of friends in Melbourne, we call ourselves the Riesling Riders. I would love to invite British professional cyclists Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish along for our Thursday ride. I imagine they would enjoy the banter and, of course, we would be thrilled to hear their stories.

Will you ever be too old to ride?

No, never, I think you can keep riding into your 70s.

Favourite refuel station?

Proud Mary cafe in Melbourne. They have the best espresso.

Favourite cycling gear?

So hard, so much to choose from. I have just started buying Q36.5 gear. It's very high tech and with a super simple look, it's brilliant.

Favourite ride?

When I'm in Melbourne, I love the 1-in-20 climb in the Dandenong Ranges and the hills around Kangaroo Ground.

How does your partner feel about long weekend rides?

Emma, my wife, loves the fact that one of my passions is doing something that helps me stay fit and gives me time to clear my head so at home I'm relaxed.

Crashes? Catastrophes?

Touch wood, nothing too major yet. A few times when travelling with my bike it hasn't arrived on my flight and I've assumed the worst, but it always turns up in one piece in the end.

Ever felt scared on a bike?

Sometimes on winter sportives in the UK, when its minus two degrees and there's ice on the road, I become a little cautious as descents can be fast. But I try to push it each time to become better at it.

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This article was originally published for afr.com.au