U23 rider Alex on the bleak UK winter…
I am writing this post from a bleak store cupboard at the local leisure centre, which recently I have spent the majority of my evenings. I don’t quiet know if this can be called an office but somehow it is. This is how I part fuel my racing addiction. Cleaning sports halls and setting up badminton nets is a far cry from my dream of riding at World Tour level, but for now its a necessity I feel many British U23’s have to take to try to achieve their dreams. As I’m writing this, my good friend Andy Leigh (who is riding for Belgium conti team, Colba, in 2016) is probably stacking shelves in a supermarket, whilst Tom Bracegirdle will be pulling pints for customers at a local pub. These two guys are whom I spend most of my winter with. They have been based in Belgium for the past two seasons. We sit for many hours in Cook&Baker, a local cafe, which is a hub for many cyclists, including local Ian Stannard. We aimlessly talk about bikes, food, coffee and twitter. For anyone from Cheshire you will probably know where Cook&Baker is…
Without any continuous funding from our NGB taking the step to move abroad is a difficult one, especially when it comes to slogging it around the Cheshire and Derbyshire lanes for hour upon hour in the middle of January. It’s a decision which involves putting any plans of university on hold and purely committing to riding your bike.
I have been fortunate enough this year to a be a part of one of the worlds leading Junior set ups, with regular european trips, access to physiotherapy, and guidance from some great mentors at HMT and Trainsharp, I feel I have had it easy up to this point. However from now, is where it will get tough. Trying to keep your self motivated through repetitive winters days, of pedalling, stretching, eating, sleeping and then setting up sports equipment.
But for now I’ve being enjoying some time off the bike, living a life of a normal 18-year-old, keeping in touch with the world outside of cycling, and refreshing my mind and body for the winter ahead; however cold it may be.
But now I have trampolines to take down, until next time.