Hi all, despite having raced at a professional level since 2016 I’ve managed to “dodge the blog” – I’m not a great one for social media. The mantra “work hard in silence, let success be your noise” is one I particularly enjoy. However, times are changing and it might be nice to share some thoughts.
At the end of 2019, I seriously considered calling it a day in terms of racing. I’d achieved my aspiration of racing professionally and done so outside of the British Cycling system, with a lot of stubbornness, help from my family and my coach since university – Dr Borut Fonda. I’d been to the biggest races in the world, lived and breathed the sport and was lucky to have had the opportunities many have not. I’d lived out in Europe for the majority, travelled and met great people.
As expected, with the highest highs come some fairly low moments. We have all had our fair share of crash damage but aside from this, I found the more time I spent training and committing my time and efforts socially, physically and mentally, the more seemed to be at stake. My goalposts were always moving and I found myself naturally plateau in terms of physical ability. I read somewhere that we live by the rules we make, and mine were fairly stringent it would seem. Looking back now it’s easy to see that athletes can end up fairly socially isolated. At the time I considered my only purpose to hit training exactly as planned, eat sensibly, and sleep well, so I could arrive at the event confident that I had done everything in my power to prepare. Everything else in life would have to wait.
This is all well and good, a few top 20s, some big days out in the breakaway, but things started to happen within the teams I was on in the later years, which I did not consider to be morally correct and I began to reconsider my actual purpose within the wider context. In the first years of my professional career, everything was rose-tinted, someone had given me a big opportunity and I wasn’t going to mess it up! Eventually, and with a lot of uncertainty at the time, I resigned and removed myself from those environments and took some time to consider my options.
I am a Physiotherapist by trade; my few and closest friends who remained despite my international comings and goings are mostly doctors or healthcare professionals. I would normally work part-time during the off-season for my local NHS Trust before pre-season training began. The team were and remain a great support to me. They do an excellent job. In reality, my clinical career was a side of my life that I had neglected for five years since graduating from University. In the winter of 2019, I decided I would try to build a more balanced lifestyle. My new challenge: could I work part-time and race well at a professional level? CAMS-Tifosi has been a great catalyst for this and was exactly what I needed, and so far, it’s been great.
Maybe it’s fate, but in light of COVID-19, I feel extremely lucky that I made a choice to return from Europe. The environment and support at CAMS-Tifosi has exceeded expectation and furthermore, I’m proud to be a clinician within the NHS. I have never felt a stronger sense of purpose than I do right now.
Many thanks and stay safe