Life Pre Blog
I am 22 years old and have grown up living on a turkey farm on top of Dartmoor. Ive spent my whole life on the moors, climbing trees, riding horses, swimming in the rivers, walking expeditions. Ive grown up in the outdoors and will always be a part of it.
I spent my first school years at Chagford Primary school and then went to Okehampton College for GCSE's and A'levels.
The Early Sporting Years
Ive done quite allot of sports really, riding a bike from a very early age, and being active as a child helped develop that.
My first serious sporting venture was Cross country running. There is this race in Chagford called the Two Hills Race, and it means just that, you basically start at the cricket field then run(if you can) to the top of Meldon hill, down the other side, then to the top of Natadon Hill, down the other side and then back to the cricket field for the finish. The first time I did it I won my age group category for that year. This motivated me and the next year I came back and was only beaten by a professional fell runner, at the age of 14 and I won the best local runner. I was a keen cross country runner at school too, representing my county in the National Cross country events, after gaining selection from podium positions in the school county trials. I also ran for and trained with the Tavistock AC.
I tried my hand at other sports too; Rugby(getting into county trials), Surfing, fishing, Mountain biking, Ten Tors.
My Life in Cycling
I have always ridden a bike for as long as I know, be it starting out on my red BMX that I first owned to the Dirt Jumping with my mates in Chagford on my custom made Saracen Hard-tale.
I found road cycling from running really. I picked up a knee injury and took to cycling as the physio said it was a non impact sport that would keep me fit, as at the time I was training for my last National Schools cross country race. From then on I had found the sport that I knew would always be a part of me.
I rode further and further each day, pushing out the boundaries, finding new routes with times I could set. Each Sunday I would map out a 100 mile route on the Map My Ride program and complete it without fail. At the time I was still running so I would mix the two together, running in the morning before breakfast and cycling in the afternoon after school. But the cycling soon took over.
I looked up on the Internet and found that there were organised events that you could do over 100 miles (sportives) so I entered two, one in July and one in September. My First one was a bit of a disaster, as i got 4 punctures along the way, and took rather along time. However at 16 I was very motivated and trained hard for the next one. In September I took off across Dartmoor, not stopping at any of the feed stations they had set out, as I wanted to complete this in the fastest time. In the end I finished in the third fastest time, after taking a corner too fast and riding into a gorse bush. The organiser Nicolas Bourne of Pendragon Sports came up to me and said I should join a cycling club and start racing. He said "you have very natural endurance qualities and are a talented bike rider" ; and that was that, I joined the Mid Devon Cycling Club the best move I ever made.
Over that winter of 2010 I trained 250 miles a week on my bike, riding with the MDCC every Sunday, 20 miles to the club run; a 60 miles club run; and 20 miles back. My first year of racing I only rode a handful of races as I was doing my first year of A-levels and having taken on four, time was quite tight. However I did get a few good results and moved up to a 2nd category rider. I got a taste of racing the Junior National Series and a race in France that the Mid Devon CC did every year in September. I finished 14th on general classification and won the award for the best British rider.
That winter I trained even harder. I focused the year of 2011 on the Junior National Road Race Series, and my overall goal was to win the Junior Tour of Wales, which I achieved. At school every thing was focused on creating more time to train and to get occasional Fridays off to make the trip to London, and then on to Belgium to race with John Barclay. I had a very consistent year getting a lot of results, each week. At the end of that year I knew I wanted to be a professional cyclist so I wrote to every team in the UK and eventually signed as a Neo Pro with Team Raleigh for 2012.
At Raleigh I had a hard first year, but was given some great opportunities, like the training camp in Majorca; racing the Tour of Mexico; Tour de Beauce; National Championships; and a taste of being a full time Pro. I also rode seven Pro Kermesses in September which finished the year off nicely.
For 2013 I had a new direction, Madison Genesis, managed By Roger Hammond. And for the first time ever I was given a coach and started to training with a power meter, which has been amazing. I'm coached this year By Stephen Gallagher of Dig Deep coaching. The year started well with an fantastic racing opportunity in the Challenge Mallorca, a four day race consisting of four individual UCI 1.1 races. The first two I was finding my feet really. Then before the night of the third day I said to Roger I was feeling good. He said "you need to get up in the morning and say to yourself you are getting in that break", so thats what I did. The stage started out of the gun, straight up an 8km climb. I started right at the back after getting pushed out the way and rode right up the outside and straight off the front, and before I knew it I was riding as hard as I've every ridden, glued to the wheel of a Pro tour rider hanging on for dear life, and that was that, I was in the break. From then on it was a 3 hour adrenaline rush, until we reached the top of Col de Soller and Team Sky were drilling it on the front to catch us. I went from the front to the back of the Buch in a few minutes, and then rode the rest of the stage, including the climb of the Puig, in a daze from my effort. It was an amazing day.
Stage 4 started and finished at the hotel. My legs were like lead, but I span them out to try and relieve the lactic acid that had built up from the day before. After about 40 minutes of racing the bunch was lined out in the crosswinds, and before I knew it, someone had slammed their brakes on in front of me at 40mph and I cartwheeled, hitting only my head and back. I got back on quickly, but was dropped off the back as the race hit the mountains, and an overwhelming sickness came over me. Juliann Whinn who was helping us on the race told me to get off as I was feeling really bad. I then spent the rest of the day and night with Ben Swift of Team Sky as a hospital room mate, with a drip attached to my arm in case they had to operate on me during the night. I made a good recovery. Then I rejoined the team we finished our training camp which was such a brilliant experience, really chilled, no stress, and some good quality team time, and training miles.
I was then selected to ride the Tour de Taiwan with the team. We left the UK in -5 conditions and arrived in 40 degree heat, it took most of the week for me to acclimatise and this affected my racing a lot, but by the end I was feeing good. I was finishing in the front group each day after doing my work for Liam and Ian who were our designated team leaders. Liam did a fantastic ride, getting top 5's on stages and a 9th on GC in the end. It was a thrilling race to ride, and the longest I have completed being over 7 days. The racing was frantic with no structure and lots of attacking with no easy parts, like you get in Europe when the break has gone. I felt worn out by the end, and unfortunately on the plane journey back I was very ill, spending most of my time in the loo's.
Following Taiwan my next goal was the U23 National Road race in Glasgow. The build up was going really well and I was using local British races to hone my form, whilst training hard under the guidance of Stephen Gallagher. Unfortunately, and to my devastation, I got a knee injury three weeks before the Nationals which took me out for 5 weeks. Then when I was recovering, and was starting to train again I got the Shingles Virus. I was knocked back again and it felt like my season was slipping from me. Now i'm healthy and training well and making my comeback for the last part of the year, the results and form are picking up again and i'm more motivated than ever.
After two years riding for top level teams in the UK I decided to give it a shot in France to see if I could make it on the European scene where the racing would suit me more. After a hard time in france with a crash that damaged my back and face for a long period of time I retuned to the UK. Who know it might have been a different story If I was positioned slightly differently in that race. But there is no point dwelling on it because Id rather look to the future and enjoy the process and moments as they happen.
After over five years of cycling at a high level including two as a professional Ive switched to the sport of triathlon. During a successful summer of racing 9 triathlons in 2014 I've found myself right in the centre of the triathlon community at Loughborough. My triathlon story starts now.