By Sam Millne

Declan Hudson is a man of many talents.

A scientist by trade, he spends almost all his free time cycling the roads of Merseyside or practising his guitar.

On a Sunday night, the 27-year-old can often be found at the Jacaranda open mic, breaking the mould from the usual acoustic acts with rip-roaring electric solos to encapsulate the watching audience.

When Hudson steps onto the stage, he comes across as a quiet man.

But his fingers quickly start to do the talking as the music begins.

In a similar way, clipping into his bike’s pedals signals the beginning of a ride and the ability for him to let loose.

During an average week, the Liverpool-based cyclist will do almost 100 miles every day while working sometimes abnormal shift patterns.

He said: “I’d finish at midnight, or I’d have to get up at like four in the morning to get there because it’s like four (hours) on four off.

“Sometimes that was difficult because I’d have to finish work after doing like 10 hours then go straight to a race then race in the evening.

“Then, the next day I was up at like four again in the morning so sometimes I’d be going off two hours sleep, but I just kind of made it work with lots of coffee.”

All the hard work is beginning to pay off, though.

He currently rides for Dolan Ellesse, an elite development team that competes in the British National Road Series and British National Championships – one step below UCI Continental level which is widely deemed the second-highest tier of pro road cycling.

The 27-year-old has ambitions of going further and said: “Obviously being a full-time professional cyclist is my dream.

“I feel like if I do well this year and the next year, then I may be able to do that.

“I’d say my biggest goal is to ride the Tour of Britain, I’d love to do that…

“With the team I’m on now, if we do well, we could potentially be a continental team in the future, so I’m happy just to work hard with this team and we’ve got some really good riders this year as well.”

Elite road cycling is notoriously tough on the body.

Alongside iron man competitors and marathon runners, cyclists are among the fittest athletes in the world.

The sport requires an immense amount of dedication, therefore, sticking to a regime as an amateur can be difficult.

“A lot of my team are kind of really structured around it (training), so they’ll have coaches and things, but I’ve tried that before and I don’t like it,” he said.

“I just see what race I’m going to be doing, and say if it’s five hours, I’ll just go and smash myself for five hours…

“I kind of know my body enough now to do that. Sometimes I do over-train a bit.

“Sometimes in the shifts, I always say I’m hungry all the time. I don’t think I’m ever full.

“I’m constantly hungry but I do have this issue with weight, so it always comes around again.

“I think ‘oh I need to lose weight’ but that’s just a mental thing really. I used to be massively overweight when I was younger, so I think that’s always going to be a part of my mindset.”

Without races to look forward to, the coronavirus pandemic has been tough, but the cyclist stayed motivated through alternative methods.

“I did a lot of charity things. I did three Everests, two of which were up a hill and took me about nine hours and one of them I did as a joke!

“So there’s a racecourse which is pretty much pan flat and I said I was going to Everest it – it took nearly 40 hours and I think it was like 800 miles I had to do in the end round an industrial estate, it was just grim.”

Hudson’s obsession with riding came quite late.

“It was a friend in school just invited me to do a charity bike ride, because I used to play football with him and used to ride to football and that.

“When I started, I literally couldn’t do a minute without having to stop, then I did this charity bike ride and I loved it.

“From there, I just kept riding and riding. I rang a local club, Liverpool Century, and they invited me on a ride.

“Again, I loved it. They took me to Wales, and I did like a hundred-mile bike ride just in shorts and t-shirt, didn’t know what I was doing.”

Even though Declan Hudson rides his bike in public comfortably as a competitor, he thinks there is plenty more to be done to encourage more people to get out on the roads.

He disagreed though that the lack of cyclists on Merseyside and in Britain is purely down to infrastructure.

“I think more should be invested into changing others’ perceptions of cyclists instead of all this infrastructure.

“I don’t think you need all this infrastructure if people were just respectful of each other on the road in general…

“I feel like there’s definitely a hatred towards cycling in this country in general.

“It’s kind of perceived as something that shouldn’t be done and if you go to other countries, all the drivers are a lot more respectful.

“But I think the infrastructure is not that good either.

“So I will see a cycle lane, but I’ll avoid it, I’ll stay on the road because a lot of them just cut off immediately or they cross pedestrian paths and it’s just too busy to be riding on anyway.

“I know the idea behind it, but it just doesn’t work to be honest.”

These adjustments will take time though.

And for now, Hudson is focussing on his next short-term goal the Rutland–Melton CiCLE and the Lincoln Grand Prix on the National Series.

(Header Image with permission, by @christopher_finnan)