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Alexander Rowe, 30, is a British doctor based in Oslo. Working in the highly specialised field of nanotechnology research, as a student he was obsessed by road riding. In 2001, he was on the verge of pursuing a professional riding career in Belgium when he was offered a PhD at Oxford that led to his current vocation.
My PhD was in biological physics and I now work in a centre for molecular biology and neuroscience. I experiment a lot with nanotechnology, trying to manipulate individual molecules to see if they can help cure life-threatening diseases. The techy side of things appeals to me and it’s definitely something that translates in my riding. The other guys will tell you that I’m pretty fussy about my bikes. I got my first proper bike when I was 13 and got into every part and bearing I could and rebuilt it.
As an undergraduate I studied physics and astrophysics but I also raced a lot, criteriums, time trials; I was probably more interested in cycling than my degree. That said, I was pretty conscientious in my studies but I still managed to ride for 20-25 hours a week. After my degree I reached a turning point. It was 2001 and just before I got offered my PhD, I came quite close to going to Belgium for a year. When I say ‘quite close’, I probably mean ideologically. Taking that step was something that I don’t think I was prepared to do.
When I’m fit and in form I’m not scared of anyone but with all my other commitments, it’s rare it all comes together like that. Call it fate but I think had it come down to it, I wouldn’t have made it at the top level. There have been times in my life when I did more riding than anything else, riding for whole summers, for example. I ended up feeling a bit brain dead.
However obsessed with riding I’ve been in the past, I couldn’t see myself doing it at the expense of everything else. For me riding is an escape, a chance to just get out there. If I had seriously taken up a riding career, I would have come to see riding as a chore – and that’s something I would hate to happen.