Ben Price, Anth Roland and Matt Hart coach and advise riders of all ages and abilities, from athletes with true world-class pedigree through to individuals who have committed to a one-off challenge like a sportive or charity bike ride. Our intentions are clear: If you want our help, we will help you. We will look at your personal time constraints and support you in a campaign to get you as fit as 'you personally can be', it’s as simple as that. Modern training methods help us to optimise the time you have available, but in many cases we have an uncanny ability to find you more time too!
Ben Price: I graduated from Bangor University in 2009 with a 1st Class Honours Degree in Sports Science. My passion for Mountain Biking Racing was born out of my own mis-adventures during my time at university, riding with friends who were often much faster than me, regularly spectacularly blowing up whilst trying my utmost to hold their wheels on rides. Living in North Wales gave me an excellent training facility, with some world class trails and roads right on the doorstep. My own mistakes on the bike, and my strong desire to get faster, fuelled my interest in sports nutrition and physiology while studying for my degree. I was able to apply what I learned in lectures to my own riding with good effect. Over a relatively short period of time I made a big improvement in my fitness, going from being the rider at the back, to the one setting the pace.
By my third and final year of university, I was absolutely hooked. I’d purchased a road bike to help with training and had begun looking for races to in which compete, the first major ones being a Welsh XC at Llandegla, the Dyfi Enduro and Mountain Mayhem (as part of a Team of 4). After university, I jumped straight into a job at a local bike shop before joining the TORQ Team in 2010. After a surprise podium in the Sport category at a National XC in 2009, I qualified for the Expert category for the following season and set out in pursuit of an Elite Cross Country licence, a feat that I had never believed would be possible when I first started competitive riding. After 3 seasons of structured training, 2 of which were plagued by injury, I raced my way through the ranks into the Elite category whilst also managing the TORQ Performance Mountain Bike Team.
2012 saw a change in direction for my own racing. A spur of the moment invitation to the Mega Avalanche and the race that ensued had me hooked on Gravity Enduro, a new and exciting discipline of mountain biking, taking in elements of both XC and Downhill. The past 2 years have seen me racing for Whyte Bikes at both a National and International Level.
For 2016, my focus has moved away from racing and more towards further study, as I undertake the industry leading International Olympic Committee Post Graduate Diploma in Sports Nutrition. This will help ensure that the nutritional advice that we offer as a consultancy and as the TORQ brand, is at the cutting edge of science.
Anth Roland: It’s always primarily been about two wheels for me, not always of the pedal powered kind but two wheels none the less. From the age of 4 years I was given my first off road motorbike, a red Malaguti 50cc. I could ride that before a push bike! BMX’s came in to fashion and when I was old enough to take to the streets I spent every hour jumping house bricks from make shift ramps. Then came the glory days of the MTB with all its dodgy late 80’s and early 90’s coloured lycra and purple anodised trick bits. I rode for a local cycle shop in Lincolnshire as a youth/junior, winning our club downhill and XC time trials, whilst also competing on the motorbikes in motorcycle trials riding.
My initial college education was in mechanical engineering and design, a fair way from sports science, but certainly logical and scientific. I continued to race as a junior off and on road in the then National Point Series, Midland XC’s and local road Time Trials. My early claim to fame was to finish 9th at Strawberry Hills in the same race as David Baker (Raleigh), 5th in the world at the time! The top 4 were all Pro/Elite and rode for the likes of Orange and Off-road Proflex.
As I now had friends who could drive, we started to venture much further afield and train/race at different venues up and down the country. The Peak District started to become a fairly local stomping ground up in the Hope Valley and Edale. This gave the much needed climbing and technical skills a workout, which got sorely missed on the flat lands of Lincolnshire! We used to spend hours and hours working on skills and technical riding in a local quarry just outside my village. Once we were done with riding down everything including near vertical drops, we then decided to try and ride up them – many a night the Lincolnshire Ambulance Service came to visit Metheringham Quarry.
Season on season I built up a sound race CV, until a move to the South Coast in 1998 and a 5-year gap from specific training and racing. Following this break I started to ride and train for a local road/TT club the GS Stella. In my first 10-mile time trial in many years on a £500 Giant I clocked 22.22mins. This was pretty encouraging and fuelled me to get 100% back into heavy training and racing.
The passion for cycling and the drive to race Elite really re-ignited my thirst for everything cycling and the education that is needed to train to that level. This was a life changing experience for me as I decided to stop my job in the south and return to University as a mature (well sort of) student to study Sport Science and Coaching. It had nothing to do with having a lifestyle of a student, which would lead to massive amounts of time to train hard, honest! But as well as coming out with a BSc Honours Degree in Sport Development and Coaching, I had also managed to race myself up to an Elite license in MTB cross-country.
During the final year studying for my degree, I contacted TORQ and had a meeting with Matt, which led to me gaining a place on the TORQ/Kona Squad. This really ignited a focus towards not only the XC racing but also the team-based events such as the 24hr endurance races in 4-man teams, and pairs.
The relationship built from riding on the team and the recent completion of my Sports Coaching Degree then led on to me joining Matt and Sasha at TORQ to help meet the needs of the ever expanding business. This meant I could utilise my experience and knowledge to work with Matt on the consultancy side, but also help out with all the other areas of the company. Relocating to Shropshire and the ‘riding heaven’ contained within its boundaries was certainly an added bonus, which has only added to the strength of my own personal riding abilities. It certainly contributed to securing one of my best rides of any season in gaining victory in the 2007 SITS 24hr Men’s pair, winning by over 2hrs with TORQ team mate Marcos Schier!
Matt Hart: I graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University in the Summer of 1993 with an Honours Degree in Sports Science. I started university as a runner (which I had been for most of my life until this point), but became frustrated with the constant injuries I seemed to pick up. A friend on my course encouraged me to go cycling with him, and that was it, I was hooked! We cycled to Macclesfield and back (45 miles) and I was chuffed to bits with my achievement. I couldn't wait to ride again. I think the real buzz came from the comparably larger distance covered than that with running and therefore, I felt that I had achieved so much more.
We did ride again, many times, and I began competing in local 10-mile Time Trials and student events on the road. I also began to structure my own training using my then limited Sports Science knowledge. I started to look into the reasons for my good and bad days, and justification for certain nutritional aids and supplements. If there was any way that I could boost my performance without breaking the rules or harming myself, I wanted to know about it. I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed my degree. Everything I learnt was tried and tested, approved or disproved. My training gave me a real reason for wanting to learn.
At the beginning of my second year, a rather fast cycling chap by the name of Simon Lillestone joined us on our course, having taken a year off university to train for the Olympics. I remember the first ride we went out on together because I stuck on his wheel like a leech. I swear to this day that he tried to drop me at every available opportunity, but I couldn't let him (pride and determination). It was after this ride that I really thought, "I could do quite well at this cycling lark".
I didn't compete in many mountain bike races when I was a student, mainly because I couldn't afford it. When I left university and became a fitness consultant in the centre of London, I finally had enough money to start competing. I joined the Eagle Road Club and raced my Alpine Stars Cromega DX off-road in the Eagle colours. I dipped my toe into the Sports category in 1994 and competed in a few road races and time trials. I had a successful year in the Sport category the following year and moved immediately up to Experts for 1996.
It was at the London Beastway MTB series in 1996 (which I won) where Brixton Cycles (the faithful sponsors) offered me a generous sponsorship deal, which included a titanium Bontrager (they made frames back in those days). It was on this bike that I rode all the big races of 1997, priming me for my first Pro/Elite year in 1998. I still ride the Bontrager, and so I've been told, it will probably last forever.
Since leaving University in 1993, my career has revolved around the health and fitness industry. I opened the first Curzons Fitness Club, then a brand new concept in Fitness Clubs from Canada. I was then promoted to Manager and became an integral part of the company's expansion. Curzons has now been bought-out by Fitness First, but they’re still around. Over the last 7 years that I worked for Curzons, I was heavily involved in the training of the new fitness consultants and trainers, and marketed and opened four of the twelve clubs that were operating in central London when I left. I left Curzons in the early part of 2000 to concentrate on TORQ.
I currently coach and advise a number of riders at all levels on the UK Mountain Bike circuit, as well a few a little further afield. I have also written fitness articles (and continue to write) for a number of publications including Madformountainbiking.com, Singletrack, Dirt, FHM Bionic and Men’s Fitness.