Pain.

Pain.

Riding with or in pain is something that ALL cyclists deal with. At some point in every ride, something, somewhere will hurt. People have various ways to deal with this, stretching, stopping, slowing…

A few common key pain points are:

1: Legs
2: Lungs
3: Undercarriage
4: Whole Body
5: Back
6: Brain
7: Heart

Often during a race a rider will ride so deep that they can’t see, breathe or function. And often all three at the same time. Dealing with the sort of pain that can feel like your lungs are bleeding is what sets cycling apart from the majority of sports, and sets the riders apart from the majority of other sports people. It’s not normal to want to hurt yourself over and over again, but we do. And in a way. We enjoy it.

Recently I’ve had my FAIR SHARE of pain while riding. And in even more instances pain while not riding, caused by events while riding! Kicking it off which being run over by a car in a race, two days later two get downs in one race, dislocating a shoulder after a run in with a wandering pedestrian, then a mystery crash resulting in a snapped frame an elbow that should of been called an ‘ebone’ and the worst road rash I’ve EVER had.

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After that last crash, after 8 hours in A&E (not quite 24), after no sleep in 48 hours, after 5 pro plus and after two paracetemols I decided it would be a good idea to race the National TT champs. The race I’d set my heart on over the winter, spring, summer. I’ve an on off relationship with the race, where my bike seemed to break every time I rode or I’d go the wrong way, loosing a couple of minutes, I’d sacked it off last year. Enough. No more thanks.

But after being talked into it by my dad, we’d decided I’d give it one last crack before I turn senior in 2015. He forked out over £2k on a BMC TT bike, sorted me out a trip to recon the course a few weeks before the day, and kept me on track while I’d had a hard time on the road with crashing and bad luck. I counted up the hours I’d racked up on the TT bike in the 8 weeks I’d had it before the race, it was around 100 hours. Thats a LOT of aero hours, sitting on THAT for hours. Borrowed DEEP deeps and aero helmet. So in the simplest terms. There was no f-ing F-ING way I wasn’t riding. Hurting or not.

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The few hours before the race ran pretty smoothly. Warm up was good. Arm heavily bandaged. Bike ready. All good. Apart from the 4 minutes before the start when I had a MAJOR panic to find a spanner (Thanks Chris Newton) to make my bike UCI legal for the second time that day.

I got to the start ramp with 10 seconds spare. Rolled down the ramp with one foot clipped in. And I was off. Into a whirlpool of pain. Brain numbing. Eye Darkening. Body crushing. Pain.

Two miles in I thought to myself “Yeah this is OK”…then SPLAT! Straight into a massive hole. My elbow that I’d padded BEYOND BELIEF slammed down onto my arm rest. I nearly threw up there and then, but I saved that for 1km to go. I couldn’t hold it in anymore.

I rode the rest of the undulating 12 mile course with my right arm firm to the bars, whilst my left wasn’t bent as you’d normally be on a TT bike, but straight, unable to lean on it.

Maximum gradient of 30% in the last 2km. A little tricky to ride when you can’t really get out of the saddle. The most wonky time trialist that day.

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39/28. Not small enough.
Creeping. Crawling. CLAWING. CRYING. SCREAMING
my way to the top. And also vomming but less on that!!

I made it to the line in the 25th fastest time. Collapsed on the nearest bit of grass. I wiped the sick off of myself and tried to compose myself. I was absolutely heartbroken. But after a while, after some quality motorway services food I felt proud that I’d ridden, given the circumstances and all of the odds against me. I wasn’t last. But I was broken. Even worse than I’d felt immediately after I’d decked it. Arm wouldn’t move. Knee wouldn’t move. Back wouldn’t bend. Hand couldn’t grip.

But I was still proud.

So ultimately pain was met friend that day. And also my worst enemy.

That ride was for you Dad!

SERRL Summer Series 18

After a week off my bike, as ordered by my new coach and teammate Chris McNamara I was feeling skeptical as to how yesterday’s race would pan out. Hoping to of recovered somewhat from my efforts earlier in the season.

We had a very strong line up with pretty much the whole team riding, including inform Dante, who has won the last few Road Races he’s done, we were all looking to get up the road early on and be aggressive from the off. Someone said after the race that the first lap had been the fastest ever lap of the Lamberhurst/Frant SERRL course.

After a good number of strong looking moves went up the road and came back Francis Cade (Pedal Heaven) and Lawrence Carpenter (AW Cycles) slipped away around 35 miles in, gaining a minute at one point. After they were away for about 10km a small chase group managed to nip away on a short drag. I just slipped into the move, and started to get the guys in the group to work together well, catching to two up the road shortly. Having a teammate in the break is always better than no teammate! Francis said he had good legs so I began pulling turns for him.

Queue 2 hours of hard through and off and big turns in order to stay away from 8 chasers, 50 seconds behind. And the bunch at 2.50. They got us down to 42 seconds at one point put a few big turns and a couple of attacks later it went back out to 1.20 to the chasers.
Two laps to go on an 800m steep climb Harold Evans (Aprire Bikes) attacked over the top, I was nearly tailed off but managed to keep within 20m or so off the leaders. With Francis sitting on the back of the front group, I was given a free ride back on by another rider in the break.
The last lap consisted of one big effort on the main climb from me, just to minimize my losses should anyone attack, cramping pretty badly at the top. But I think I had damaged some people’s legs. I hope!

With about 12km to go I rolled off the front in an effort to soften things up for Francis in the sprint. Last time we raced this course he beat me pretty easily! Somehow the guys in the break sat up and let me go. Rhys Howells (23c Focus) rode across to me, and then past me! I had to ruin myself to stay on his wheel on the decent. We then did some of the hardest through and off I’ve ever done, the road averages a good 5% for the last 5 miles. I managed to get Rhys to be on the front in the last few km, knowing he has a BIG sprint on him, I wanted him somewhere where I could see him.
With 300m to go I jumped away and rode all the way to the line, hands in the air.

Francis sprinted in for 7th, he was pretty spent after being away for a good length of time and marking the attacks from the other riders in the break once I’d attacked, so a big thanks to him for mucking about in the break after I’d gone.

Jamie Pine was 10th. Rob ‘Random’ McCarthy just behind in 12th. Dante was 17th and Chris 20th. So all of us in the points! Which is great of the team.

It was a big relief to win yesterday, out of 13 races on that course over 4 years I’ve only ever finished 3 and as it had been a while since my last win. But with just 2 weeks of coaching from TrainSharp, one of those being a complete rest week. It’s great to see that coaching works and having the support of teammates is always. Always worthwhile!

I’m now 12th in the UK Elite Rankings, as well as 1st U23. The team are in 7th. Ahead of some big name teams!

1km to go!

My Specialized SL4.

My Specialized SL4.