An evening with Matthew Falconer and Professor Rob Thomas


Matthew Falconer is an unassuming man, you might mistake him for someone who works in IT, which he does, albeit Cyber Security but listen to him and you quickly learn you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover! Matt’s an ultra-distance cyclist and his triumphs on the Trans Continental Race (TCR) are quite remarkable.

The audience at VIA was transfixed as Matt explained how the TCR, a self-supported ultra race plays out. He talked us through the planning, designing the route, his bike and the kit he carries, and of course the contingency planning; one thing you can guarantee is that things will not go to plan!

Matt sold his car and took up cycling to save a bit of money commuting, with the hope of also shedding a few kilos. Against this backdrop, his cycling journey is almost unbelievable. He now regularly enters the TCR and other ultra races, with the TCR requiring riders to plot their own route of up to 4000 km to a destination the other side of Europe. Whilst each rider must visit a number of designated checkpoints, they are otherwise on their own - literally. This is a race - sleep means you’re not moving forwards, but Matt chooses to overnight in hotels where possible, whereas others may sleep under the stars, wild camp and trade miles for sleep deprivation. Matt shared some of the challenges inevitably posed when undertaking these mammoth challenges including being chased by wild dogs, picking routes that aren’t bike friendly and eating ice cream...a lot of ice cream, and original coca cola. To learn more go to the website Matt is entered for this year's TCR and we'll share tracking details nearer the time.

As he continues his preparations, Matt may benefit from the tips of Professor Rob Thomas, our second speaker. Rob is an eminent physician and researcher. He shared with us his insights into a healthy diet and its benefits particularly to men’s health and well-being, as well as those for women and the menopause. The key messages revolved around a healthy diet including; beans, artichokes, beetroot, turmeric, broccoli, ginger nuts and colourful vegetables: they’re all good for you! The science of free radicals being soaked up and good gut health sent our audience away reflecting on their pre-, during and post-ride eating habits. The linked article covers the detail of cycling nutrition but the science was clear and the advice taken on board by many who joined us, Matthew Falconer included, I feel.

Check out the photo album here.