Huge apologies if there have been any of you lingering out there in cyberspace hoping for a more steady stream of updates. As per usual I had hoped to maintain a constant feeding of information onto this site- but essays, exams, revision, racing and the like gradually wore down my motivation.
Anyhow, I’ll try to keep this brief as I have exams looming in May and I already feel as though I’m behind on revising for them.
The last few months have been a whirlwind of activity for me. One of the real wonders of cycling (and I imagine any sport, really) is the fact that year on year you continue to learn so much more- about the sport, about your body, about training, about yourself. This year has been no different for me in that respect, but things are really starting to come together and I feel that both mentally and physically I’m moving up another level. The thing I am most pleased about, however, is the fact I’m still enjoying everything so much.
I’ve been privileged to work with some truly fantastic people for the past few months. It can be hard struggling physically, financially or mentally when there is just you. Every elite athlete has been there at some point or other, but I truly believe that these moments of crisis define you as an athlete, and also as a person. Similarly, if you have been blessed to receive some help (whether with money, equipment, expertise, or just moral support) it is appreciated all the more, and the circumstances in which the provision is made tell you a great deal about the people who are providing that support to you.
There are basically 3 people/organisations in my life at the minute who I am eternally grateful to. Not because of the support they provide, but for the fact that they never ask for anything back. As sponsors/supporters one would expect the arrangement to be fairly balanced- I use their expertise/equipment, and they expect something in return. So far nothing could be further from the truth. I have felt absolutely no pressure to perform (outside of the presures I put on myself) and for that I am truly grateful, as it means I can concentrate just on my performances and improving them- not on fulfilling sponsors obligations.
Cyclefit are the first on my hitlist of thanks. This is a company who are the most qualified bike-fitters in Europe. A company so well-qualified that they train other bike-fitters- whether they’re from Specialized, Trek, or any other of the variety of bike-fitting companies in existence. Two guys so bereft of arrogance, ego or fawning complacency that they’ll take in a struggling rider (a paracyclist, no less) give him a decent cup of coffee (monmouth, no less), fit him up on the rig, sort out bike fits, stash him a load of kit and bike (2 at last count, no less) and do so with a candour and humour that I feel very touched to share with them. What have they asked for in return? Well,.. nothing. I don’t think they’ve even asked to be on the sponsors page on this website. They simply couldn’t care less. Is this poor business practice, a missed opportunity for some potential media coverage? Or is it just the fact they’re so damn good that they just don’t need the additional advertising? I’m leaning pretty heavily towards the latter. If you ride a bike, and want to ride further, faster, in more comfort… don’t even think about going to see anyone else. They’re your first port of call at www.cyclefit.co.uk
2nd on the hitlist is Jonathan, Mick, Frances and all the crew at Balance. A slick multi-disciplinary outfit based in Clapham, they work very closely with Cyclefit on a great many of the bike-fits they do (although their bike expertise is a tiny area of all the things they do)- providing additional biomechanical, orthotic and physio support as the case may require. Mick made the footbeds to go in my shoes- no mean feat for someone with pretty badly messed-up feet 2 sizes different from the other with no fat on the soles. Not only did they offer that service free, no-charge, without me even asking- I then get a call from Jonathan, one fo the Directors (who I’d never met or even spoken to) who asked if he could come on board and help. He then came down from London to Exeter for the day (!) bringing with him a bag full of expertise, ideas and Trigger Point Therapy products- all of which he gave to me. And what did he ask for in return? Erm, well… nothing. And how useful are the techniques he showed me? They’re pretty essential to me now. Basically if www.balancephysio.com don’t know it about the human body and how it works, it’s probably not worth knowing.
Last but no means least- a particularly special thanks must go to a man; a Big Name on Campus at Exeter. Alan “Beef” Pope. Head Strength & Conditioning Coach at the University of Exeter. Despite taking an active and engaged role in the development of the majority of athletes in the High Performance Unit he found time (quite a lot of time… about 3.5 years now) to help out a struggling cyclist with no real results or performances to his name, prior to actually realising he was a paracylist and contacting British Cycling. For over 3 years now Beef has been the calm voice of reason for me, and in all that time I don’t think he’s ever asked me to do anything for him in return. Except perhaps shut up about Rapha. And Coffee. And bike porn. Or any other variety of topics I witter on about. Thanks Beefster. His sporadic twitter feed can be followed at www.twitter.com/itsbeef
Yeah, so “keeping this brief” didn’t really work out…
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