He’s established himself as just about the most knowledgeable commentator in the business and is currently airing his second season of The Bike Lane.
We spent some time riding with Matthew Keenan at this year’s Dirty Dozen.
Words and Images - Brendan Edwards
We’ve been lucky enough to spend some time getting to know Matthew Keenan over the last month. Firstly at this year’s iteration of the Dirty Dozen and again when we were invited along to watch the filming of The Bikes Lane’s ‘Hot Lap’ at Kew Boulevard.
Matthew Keenan has built a solid reputation as a cycling commentator and has covered some of the biggest cycling events in the cycling calendar including the Tour de France and more recently the Vuelta.
Matt’s a Melbournian and despite covering the biggest events in the sport, he’s still a great local cycling supporter. I’m always amazed by how many events and rides he manages to make time for in what I expect is an ever-expanding workload.
I had the great opportunity to ride the 2015 Dirty Dozen with Matthew Keenan…
Some of the climbs were pretty crazy but the ride didn’t seem so bad having Matthew Keenan in your group, making it an entertaining ride. He had a camera crew follow the group, filming for ‘The Bike Lane’. It was great to see Matt spend the ride jumping from rider to rider discussing the world of cycling and telling anecdotes about the things he’s learnt over the years.
How did Matt go on the first climb… here’s what he said:
“It started brutally from the first climb and there’s lots of gravel and I’m wondering what I’ve gotten myself in for here... And there was as much tension on the way down because of all the cautions of the people on the way up. Ironically I’m riding 23mm tyres and one guy who I saw puncture had 40mm tyres. So he had the heaviest slog on the way up and he also had a puncture”.
Matthew Keenan surprised many with his climbing abilities. He hadn’t touched a bike in over a month prior due to his commitments in covering the 2015 Vuelta a España, yet still managed to be one of the strongest climbers on the day, and one of the few who managed to climb all 13 climbs without having to get off his bike to walk.
Many a Keenanism was shared along the way. My favourite was hearing:
“I don’t need the data to tell me this is steep!”
We asked Matt what he liked most about the day
“The comradery. There was no machoism, very little half wheeling and everyone was really inclusive and encouraging of each other”
Toward’s the end of the ride Matt started to complain of hamstring soreness… it didn’t seem to slow him down, but you could tell that he was pushing himself well into the pain cave. We tried to give him the heads up on how hard the last climb of the day Martyrs Road was which peaks at 27%.
The look on his face was priceless when he saw it.
When he made it to the top, you could see so many emotions on his face. Part jubilation, part shock. It was as if he had just finished climbing the Alpe D’Huez. His made his opinion on the last climb pretty clear.
”If I ever see that climb again it’s too soon. That was horrible!”.
We also chatted to Matt about what events like the Dirty Dozen mean for the sport
“I think these sorts of events are really important for the growth of the sport maybe even more so than racing in many respects as this is the introduction to them, a lot of people may start to race. Your mum or dad had come out to do this type of event and you’re a 14 year old well this can be the stepping stone to then go & race and so these types of events or the Gran Fondo’s. It’s about the building the participation numbers, then we get a bigger base at the bottom of the pyramid. And hopefully that peak gets even higher”.
It was a great experience riding with Matthew Keenan. He was so down to earth and incredibly approachable. The 2015 Warburton Dirty Dozen was such an amazing event I was so fortunate to have had a chance to cover this for La Velocita. A Special thanks to Matt de Neef and David Blom and all the volunteers who put together the 2015 Warburton Dirty Dozen.