meet Lindsey, a pro partner.
4am wake up call. Paul (Voss) is leaving for a two-week altitude training camp with his team. The longest period we would be away from each other this season. Paul had been quite busy in the early season, travelling from place to place, but we always found a way to spend a few days together in amongst it all. We had found a new connection with each other. We became best friends. Of course, we were always very close, but during the off-season a lot had changed and our relationship was blossoming and so was I.
When Paul and I first met, it was quite a rocky start. I had lived in the same house for my whole life, with little to no travel outside of the UK. I was content with my life, working with friends, riding my bike on the routes I knew best. But meeting Paul meant I had to make changes to my life in a big way. At the start of the season Paul would make things as easy as possible for us to see each other. But as his training increased and his races edged closer, things became more and more difficult. If I didn’t want to wait one or two months to see Paul, I had to travel to see him, even if it were just for two days. It put pressure on just about everything for me. I had to travel from place to place alone, I had to make big cut backs to save money for travel, I had to work out ways to have time off from work to suit Paul’s schedule (luckily, I was working with some of the best friends any one could ask for, so this wasn’t always a struggle). But more importantly, I was forced into a corner and made to think about my future for the first time.
I had been working in retail since leaving sixth form. Working in Harrods for several years while studying a law degree part-time, until I fell for the beauty of cycling and soon made it more than just a hobby by moving to a full-time role in the cycling industry. I loved working with people who loved cycling just as much as me. I was attached to those I worked with and even through hard times, we always found a way to laugh about it. Of course, we all have those days where you want bigger and better things for yourself, but why would I want to leave such a caring community of friends and a job I knew so well? There were opportunities to better my career, but that would have meant less flexibility with holiday and inevitably losing my days with Paul all together. I wasn’t happy with the constant travel back and forth; I’m just not cut out for it. So where was my future heading?
It didn’t take long to realise my future with Paul was more important than being comfortable. I was ready to move to Girona and to be the girlfriend of a professional cyclist. When I first moved to Girona, it was very unofficial, more like a long stay than a move. There were no leaving dos or teary goodbyes. But arriving here, Paul was on a mission to show me every inch of his second home and we were doing every touristy thing in the book. I loved life, no work and using Paul’s old mountain bike to satisfy my need to ride – it was great. I started to meet up with others living in the area. I was often introduced as ‘Paul Voss’s girlfriend’; it was the quickest way to explain why I was living in Girona and at first, it didn’t really bother me.
Paul was getting further into his season and so the longer rides began. As I sat watching TV, reading a book or sunbathing after a long ride, I questioned what I would be doing tomorrow, next month or a year into the future. At this point in a relationship, you’d usually be spending time with your partner, creating memories together, finding out how to build a life together whilst still having that new couple excitement. But the thing with a professional cyclist is, although they may be ‘at home’ for a few weeks, the majority of the day is spent training. 5-6 hours of steady riding, 2-3 hours followed by the gym or 2-3 hours easy, all followed by sleep. Recovery is equally as important as training itself, so while I was always happy to see Paul walk through the door, I knew I probably had to find something else to pass the time while he disappeared into a deep sleep for the rest of the afternoon.
While Paul was training or sleeping, I was constantly in a state of worry. I was questioning my decision to move to Girona. I had left everything. I am so far from everything I have ever known. Had I made the wrong decision? To be so free now, I felt so lost. I was losing myself, becoming nothing more than a WAG and had forgotten exactly what it meant to be Lindsey.
Words: Lindsey Walker @thecurlycyclist