Gluttony makes for a good motivator for Fred Wright.
Bahrain Victorious‘ classics-bashing, stage-hunting sensation rests harder than he races so he can commit fully to a season stretching from early spring to late summer.
“I like to get to a point in the off-season where I feel so gross and upset with myself that I want to ride my bike again,” Wright told VeloNews.
Wright and the rest of the pro peloton are currently dusting off neglected bikes and binning empty beer bottles after well-earned end-of-season breaks.
While some riders stay true to rigorous diets and maintain training discipline through the autumn so as to ease the transition into the new year, Wright follows a more fun path.
“I didn’t touch my bike at all for four weeks – I want to get to the point where I want to ride my bike really badly. The length of that break can change every year. Sometimes it’s three weeks, sometimes six. This year, it felt right after four,” Wright said while he rested after a low-key training ride.
“I got into a bit of a habit of drinking, maybe more than a normal person, and I definitely ate a lot of crap. I definitely enjoyed life as much as I could for four weeks, let’s say.”
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The autumnal off-season sees racers let loose with luxury trans-global vacations, ceremonial criteriums, and celebratory parties.
Likewise, Wright spent his time steering far clear of his team-issue Merida, went on holiday to Greece, and indulged his love of Lego, reading, baking (ed. – he even had a loaf of banana bread in the oven during our call) … and boozing.
A debut appearance at what Wright described as a beer-sozzled “sensory overload” at the Gent Six with flatmate and Ineos Grenadiers racer Ethan Hayter drew a curtain on a month of much-needed excess.
Wright now reboots for his fourth season with Bahrain Victorious after landing a contract extension stretching through 2025 as the Bahraini crew builds around its rising star.
“After four weeks completely off, I was desperate to ride my bike again,” he said. “I had some great nights and definitely enjoyed my time away, but after that long, I just wanted to get back to the routine, get back to feeling healthy again.”
‘I need to really let loose in winter so I can really commit when preparing for the classics’
Wright enjoyed a breakout 2022 that marked him out as another of the peloton’s Gen-Z super-talents.
A season short of victories didn’t do justice to 11 grand tour top-10s and seventh at Tour of Flanders as the Londoner clattered over northern cobbles and rode his luck in stage-race breakaways.
Wright’s all-in approach to aggressive racing is forged in the flames of excess.
For him, the pizzas and parties are the preview Yin to the punishing Yang of an approaching season he hopes will encompass a full block of classics and possibly two grand tours.
“When you have the time, you’ve got to make the most of the time,” he said. “You can’t be switched on all year. When you do have the time, you’ve got to make the most and get that balance. And that has a positive influence on how you approach the training. There’s no point in being semi-switched on all the time. You’ve got to be ‘off’ or ‘on.'”
Wright’s 2022 season spanned 66 days and 11,000km of racing. It’s a load toward the top of the WorldTour spectrum that Wright believes is only made possible by his disciplined dive into winter excess.
“With training, I get carried away, I just like to ride my bike lots. You want to go well at the races, not every day on the bike. I have to keep telling myself that so I don’t get carried away,” he said.
“I feel like I need to really let loose in winter so I can really commit when preparing for the classics.”
Wright’s commitment to the classics and his all-time goals of Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders started already.
The 23-year-old booted back to the bike at the start of this month and is strengthening his sprint in the weight room. Training for 2023 started fully last week with 20 hours of steady miles in northern England with fellow British pros Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) and British crit champ Matt Bostock (WiV Sungod).
Twenty hours in the past seven days is just a taste start of things to come as Wright works off the excess ahead of a Bahrain Victorious training camp in early December.
“The rides are slowly getting longer, but although the season’s quite close, it feels like there’s a lot more long rides, and long training days between me and feeling really great on the bike again,” he said. “I guess it’s a long, slow, and steady process.”
Good job he’s got plenty of good, regretful, memories to fuel the engine.