Mitch Docker is not done racing yet

The Australian will ride alternative-calendar events for EF Education-EasyPost in 2022

February 23, 2022

Some riders retire and never want to touch a bike again. Not Mitch Docker.

Since he rode his final professional race at the 2021 Paris-Roubaix, Mitch has been rediscovering all of the things that made him fall in love with cycling in the first place. He has come home to Australia and been waking up for bunch rides that finish when Melbourne’s cafés open. He is even going to pin on some race numbers this year—when he is not managing training programmes for his Team EF Coaching clients or mowing the lawn or looking after his kids, that is. Mitch’s wife has just had their third child, and Dad life now comes first for Mitch. But Mitch still wants to show up fit to race some of Australia’s hottest cycling events. His fans will be excited to know that he is going to keep racing for us in our new EF Education-EasyPost jersey.

Since he moved Down Under, Mitch has been exploring an exciting world of cycling, one that has given him a whole new appreciation for non-professional cyclists. We’re looking forward to hearing about his experiences.

"How the heck did I ever fit riding in?"

- Mitch Docker

“I totally underestimated this step,” Mitch says. “I was like, ah, I am going to be retired; I’ll kick back and do a couple of rides, but now I’m like, how the heck did I ever fit riding in? This is just insane. I’m just trying to squeeze in a couple of hours here or there when I can.”

Mitch’s days of leisurely 10 a.m. starts might be behind him, but so is the pressure to be a world-class athlete. He doesn’t have to do any more six-hour rides in zero-degree drizzle to get ready for Europe’s spring classics. He won’t be putting his body on the line for his teammates in 65+ World Tour-calibre races this year. After 16 seasons in the peloton, he is still getting used to the fact that he can turn around and go home whenever he wants. As much as he will miss being on the bus at World Tour races with us, he is looking forward to experiencing cycling in a new way. We are glad that he is still part of our team.

"When I came to EF, I finally felt like I could be myself and that was accepted and that was actually promoted,” he says. “I think that is the most special thing about this team. The European cycling mentality is to be this straight-down-the-line person: eat white pasta, go to bed at this time, and live and breathe cycling. You come to this team, and it is like, we love cycling and we want to perform—we want to be the best—but make sure that you are who you are at the core and bring that back to the team; we want that part of you involved in the team too.”

As a racer, Mitch brought his work ethic, good humour, and hard-won knowledge and skills to EF Education-Easy Post. He had been through the school of tough knocks during his early years and learned how to fend for himself in the peloton. Often, it was the little things, like how to pack a rain bag or calculate the time cut, that he could share with his younger teammates to help them on their way. If they were down, Mitch would cheer them up. He always made sure to enjoy the good times at races too. He insisted that the riders sit down together every night for dinner to relax, joke around, and switch off from cycling for a bit. On the road, he was a leader. We could always count on him to motivate the guys, especially when the going got tough. As much as he liked a laugh, he was a professional through and through.

Before he retired, Mitch joined the Team EF Coaching staff. Now, he is sharing his knowledge of training and racing with a small group of clients. He enjoys the new challenge and is getting a lot of satisfaction from helping his riders achieve their goals. With that work and his podcast, as well as raising his kids and doing renovations on his house, he now appreciates just how difficult it can be to get consistent training hours on the bike, even though that is key.

“That is something that’s been hard for me to get around,” he says. “Before, for me, normal life came second. Training came first. It was difficult for me to switch that mentality over and be like, hey, wait a minute, these guys aren’t trying to win the Tour de France. It’s all about honing a programme that juggles training and working and family life as well.”

Mitch is inspired by all of the riders he has met since he returned to Australia who do just that. Riding with them is making him a better coach. When he left home to seek his fortune as a racer, cycling was a niche Europhile sport. Times sure have changed.

“When I think back to the people I knew in high school, they were all laughing at me, because I was doing this funny sport called cycling,” he says.“ All of a sudden, all of those guys are riding bikes. I am seeing them out on bunch rides, and they are all in love with cycling.”

They are getting into racing too. They won’t leave their lives behind to try to compete in the biggest European classics like Mitch did, but they sure like showing up to their local crits, gravel rides, or mountain-bike marathons and pushing themselves and their friends to the limit. The next day, they might have to be in their offices, but before that they want to race hard and then go out together and have a few beers.

That kind of cycling is taking off in Australia. Mitch is stoked to go ride some of his country’s coolest new events this year, like Race the Rock, an ultra-endurance race to Uluru. He has been making plans with Lachlan Morton and Alex Howes and will be throwing himself into the local scene in Melbourne to see what it’s all about and try to win a few town-sign sprints.

Mitch still has a lot of racer left in him, though he might have to rely more on Dad watts now.

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