British GT champion driver and regular Le Mans GTE-AM contender Oliver Bryant spoke about racing drivers' love of cycling at an event in Bagshot, Surrey, last weekend.
"For fitness and the social side of it as well, all the drivers I know cycle," Bryant said. "When you're taking part in something like Le Mans, the roads are closed. We can go out and familiarise ourselves with the track and ride it. And it's really good for you, it helps keep the weight down which for a driver is really important. It's not load-bearing so you don't knacker yourself out."
Bryant, who has 183 wins and 170 podium finishes in his 619-race career, was talking at the Big Bike Show organised by independent retailer Spokes, which features in a forthcoming Velocity article on bike retail.
"Whenever I go to overseas events I take my bike [a Giant] with me, which sometimes is a bit of a nightmare logistically," Bryant said. "But it's great because when you're in the car it's pretty intense; you get quite a lot of down-time between sessions and I try to get out on my bike then. I do four or five events a year at Spa [in Belgium] and the scenery and the roads in the area are incredible.
"I love being out on the roads with my team-mates and drivers from other teams and it's a great way of socialising with them."
When not driving or cycling, Bryant is focused on raising sponsorship - it takes around £800,000 a year to keep a racing team on the track. And then there is the day job: property development, with family company Chesterton Commercial Group. "My father, Grahame, started it in 1972," he told Velocity. "We are a small company, five people total, so I’m involved with all aspects from site acquisition, funding, planning, contract management, spec of finishes, marketing, sales, rentals, maintenance, the whole show."
Last September, Bryant somehow found time to take part in the Blue Marine Foundation ride from London to Monaco, on which 80 riders rode through eight countries in seven days to raise money to fund oceanic reserves and research. "It was an incredible thing to do," he said. "I met some great people on the ride."
But most of his cycling is done in shorter bursts. "You don't want to knacker yourself but you want to just get yourself out there and spin your legs and get some fresh air. When you're just sat in the car between sessions looking at data, it's quite a closed environment, so it's good to just get out clear your head."