Wow- where to begin. Its been a busy few months of ups and a fair few downs too.
After signing up to race for VCUK Champion-System at the end of 2014 I was super excited. I had a solid season in 2014. It saw me get my 1st cat licence wrapped up pretty quickly and collect a couple of good wins along the way. More importantly I really enjoyed it and wanted to step things up for 2015- I want to ride at the highest level in the UK, not because I feel I am the best cyclist in the UK, or because I feel I can win at this level, but because I love the feeling of competing against the best. So to get the call from Wayne to say I could be part of the team for 2015 was mega!
I felt right at home with the team straight away after a couple of ‘training’ weekends in sunny Welshpool. Everyone single one of the guys have made me feel incredibly welcome and I feel I settled in right away.
Training early doors was going really well- I headed to Spain at the end of February for some sunny miles with Seb from the team. The camp was going well until the last couple of days when I seemed to pick up a niggle in my knee that turned very painful when riding! Back home I went to see Iain of the North Wales Spine Clinic- these guys look after me really well, and are the only opinions I listen too. The good news was they could help me recover from the knee injury- the bad news was I would be out for a couple of months. This would mean I would miss the Ras Mumhan and likely the Tour of the Res- 2 races I was seriously looking forward to at the start of April. Gutted was not the word.
After feeling pretty sorry for myself for a couple of days, I got down to the rehab work, which initially meant doing a lot of feet-up, not ideal when you want to ride your bike! But…. it worked and I began to notice a reduction in my symptoms and I was able to get back on the bike sooner than expected. I made the call to go to Ireland for the Ras Mumhan with the team- perhaps foolish as it could have been too much too soon, but fortunately I got away with it! Despite having barely touched my race bike for a month 3days prior to the 1st stage, the 4 day stage race went really well for me personally. While I didn’t get the results I would have been hoping for prior to the season, just finishing was enough for me and all I could manage with were my fitness levels were at. It was actually looking rose for me after 2 stages until I royally blew up on the 3rd day!!
The following weekend saw the Tour of the Res, I thought this was going to be a struggle for me to compete with the countries best riders, even when I am at the top of my game this would be tough, but off the back of no training plus the fatigue from Ireland which finished the Monday before this was going to be VERY hard. It didn’t disappoint! The weather also played its hand to make the experience extra-grim.
Despite having a hard time at both of these races, I felt I learned a huge amount about racing, tactics and the professionalism the rest of my team mates apply to their racing. I also learned that Snack a Jacks are mega- in particular the caramel ones (thanks Seb and Dill). It was also great to see my team mates put in some really strong rides and mix it with the best.
So after the ups of some great news to join the team and an exciting race calendar to the downs of injury and the arse-kicking experience that the first few races of the season have been, its been a rollercoaster and its still April!
Things are on the up however and the power seems to be returning into the legs so I am looking forward to what the rest of 2015 brings. I must say a huge thanks so far to Wayne Greenhalgh of Champion System UK (the boss) for the opportunity to ride some mega races for the team and also the guys at BuyaBike.co.uk for the mega Base bikes and Club roost wheels that I am racing on. A special mention too goes to the D.S at the Ras and the Res: Peter Wilson and also our mechanic/helper/chauffeur/ friend/ swanny and all round top bloke John Rigby. Without those 2 none of the racing would be possible!