Rider Interview – Neal Stephens

Published on November 30th, 2018

Our December rider interview comes from Neal Stephens, Managing Director, Willmott Dixon Construction. Neal led the Willmott Dixon team to Corporate Cup glory this year at our Wales challenge, and having completed Cyclone24 twice, we were keen to know what keeps him coming back.

How did you first hear about Cyclone24?
Back in 2017 one of my colleagues saw Cyclone24 advertised and we thought it was a great way to pull everybody together, work together as one team and in the process raise some well needed money for a local charity which we support, Prostate Cancer Cymru. It was a great event and I decided to match fund all the money that the teams raised, and we were Sponsor of the Year from Prostate Cancer Cymru last year.

You’ve completed the challenge twice now, what keeps you coming back?
So we have completed the challenge two years on the trot. What’s interesting is that the first year we had 12 people and entered 2 teams but unfortunately only 6 of us rose to the challenge again this year so I guess that tells you a bit! It’s not an easy event to participate in, it’s quite a challenge and that’s why we keep coming back. We like to have challenges and targets, targets that we can aim to beat time after time.

How do you prepare for the challenge?
Well I must admit I didn’t really prepare that well. I’m not a big track rider, I do a bit of spinning and cycle when I can but with work being so busy it is not always that easy. A couple of times a week spinning is probably as good as any training if you can’t get to the velodrome.

What are your stand out memories from taking part this year?
The first year I found it really tough going through the night. It is mentally challenging, very tiring and this year I was expecting it to be pretty much the same but we seemed to breeze through the night as the event went on.

What was it like coming into the final few hours? What were your emotions?
Well the first year I was the last rider out which was interesting as it meant that everybody had finished and showered before me. But this year I was first out, which was great, so the last couple of hours I was just sat watching the event which is a far better place to be. If I do it next year I’ll be last again…….. but I’ll pull rank!

What advice would you offer to somebody thinking of taking on the Cyclone24 challenge?
It’s a really good team event. Like I mentioned previously we had 2 teams of 6 cyclists. Everyone was looking out for each other, you need a bit of team work changing the tracking tag over from one rider to the next and everyone is offering support and advice. It is just a really, really good team event and again a really good way to raise money for local charities.

What three words best sum up the Cyclone24 experience for you?
TIRING. RELIEF (at the end), but most of all FUN. We really had a great laugh and I got to know all the 11 people over the 2 teams so much more after spending 24 hours with them. So if you really want to get to know someone take them along and spend a full day and night with them and you will know so much more about them the next day.

This year the Willmott Dixon Wales team completed 3482 laps in 24 hours, which won their team the Corporate Cup. They have also raised an enormous amount of money for their chosen charities over the two years through participating in Cyclone24, and we very much hope they will be back again in 2019!

Want to know more about what it’s like to on Cyclone24? Why not watch our film here