2013 started off by eating grapes, in fact 12 of them, one for each chime of the clock ringing in the New Year. I was in Majorca and this was a Spanish tradition to bring good luck. It was nice to get back into a routine of training and have no distractions. Also the weather was pretty good compared to back in the UK and I managed to get 10 quality days of training in, covering a good number of miles and a plenty of climbing to boot. Back in the UK I continued race in the Manchester Regional Track League, and enjoyed getting back into the competitive side of bike riding, although the endurance side of racing has never been my speciality.
Towards the end of January I attended the London Bike Show, and although there was quite a bit of snow disrupting travel I managed to get there and back in one piece and without too many delays. The show was good fun, signing autographs on the British Cycling stand, and then doing a half hour interview on the stage with Anthony McCrossen. The bike show was also a good chance to chat to manufacturers and distributers about the coming year and meet the industry insiders.
The start of February saw me heading north to Glasgow, to ride at the final round of the Revolution track series, and the first time the series had ventured away from Manchester. Once again I was riding for Face Partnership with the endurance riders. I didn’t quite get off to as good a start as in the first round as I finished 6th in the Flying Lap, an event I’d managed a 2nd in October. The Madison kilo was a much better ride than the 1st round though, riding with Jake Ragan we managed to post a sub 60 second kilo and good enough to take the lead at the halfway point. In the end we ended up 5th, but the time and placing was an improvement from previous rounds. The bunch races went pretty well this time around, although I didn’t make any of the top ten places I had much stronger rides than in the October rounds and was more aware of what was going on around me. However still need some more racing and training to properly get in the mix and contest the finish sprints.
With unsettled weather conditions and having spent 2 days straight on the turbo, I was online booking another camp out in Majorca, this time it was only for 7 days, but it was long enough to continue working on the base fitness, and clocking in the hours. I was staying in the Playa de Palma, and it was pretty much a cycling hotel, with the hotel filled with cyclists. I was joined on a number of rides by fellow Paralympic Colin Lynch, who was staying in the same hotel. I also bumped into one of my main rivals and good friend, Jiri Jezek, who was staying a few hundred metres away in another hotel, I joined him out on a big group ride where we discussed the issues we’re having in our sport at the moment. It was good to get out riding with these guys as I do a lot of my training on my own, and when you’re on longer road rides it’s good to have someone there with you going through the same miles and hours. My fitness was on the way up, and I set a few PB’s up some of the shorter climbs on the island I use to test myself.
The camp wasn’t without a few hiccups though, as on the 2nd day I was knocked off by a car, which in itself was pretty shocking, but I was incredibly lucky and managed to escape with a few cuts and bruises. Thankfully it didn’t affect my training and I was able to finish the week strongly.
Once back home it was off to another bike show, this time the Bike and Triathlon Show in Manchester. It was a smaller event than the one in London, but certainly felt like I signed more autographs this time around.
With my fitness going in the right direction, it was time to test myself out on the road, and I was set to race in the Eddie Soens Classic at Aintree Race Course. It was the first race of the season for most people and historically has been cold and wet, but with 250 riders from all categories of racing it was going to be organized chaos! The race set off at a good speed and I was off with the Cat 2 riders in the group just ahead of the Cat 1’s and Elites. It wasn’t long before we were caught and the bunch was 250riders strong and shortly after that the first crash happened, fortunately I managed to avoid it, but with the rider on the ground each lap the bunch would have to squeeze past before regrouping. A few more laps in and there was another crash, this time I wasn’t so lucky and got caught the wrong side of it. After not quite making it back on, I ended up riding to the end of the race in a small group, and with the peloton out of our range it turned into a strong training ride. Still it was pretty enjoyable, and my legs felt pretty good throughout.
Then it was back to Majorca again, this time with almost all the GB Para-Cycling Team. It was one of the most relaxed camps I’ve been on, although the craziest weather conditions. We had sun, rain, wind, snow, and hail, but all in all it didn’t stop me getting in all the training I had planned. This camp was about adding intensity to my rides, and working on specifics that’ll hopefully convert into more speed on the track during my kilo.
Well that’s spring done and dusted, off to race at the Good Friday Meet at Herne Hill Velodrome (weather permitting) and then it’s into the meaty part of my training block, as I aim to make the 2014 Commonwealth Team.
Catch you all soon, as I keep you updated on my progress
P.S. Catch me tonight (29/03/2013) on the last show of the season of Channel4’s The Last Leg, 9.30pm on Channel 4 in the UK.
It’s almost over. All the hype and build up to 2012, the Olympics, the Paralympics, and here we are about to head into 2013.
What a year for sport, and amazing to have played a small part in it!
Back in February my season kicked off in sunny Los Angeles, where I was racing at the Para-Cycling World Track Championships.
They turned out to be an interesting championship, in the Team Sprint riding with Darren Kenny and Sarah Storey we suffered our first defeat since 2006, taking silver behind the Chinese, who had found an amazing man 1 that really did make the difference to their team. In the 4km Pursuit, qualifying was interesting, as there was an official standing on the track in the back straight! Cue a restart, and I managed to post the 3rd quickest time. In the Bronze medal final I tried to learn from my pacing issues in qualifying. However after the 1st kilometre I could see my opponent and decided to chase him downrather than doing a full 4km. After 5 3Ž4 laps I’d caught and over taken Roberto Alcaide from Spain to take the Bronze medal.
In the kilo I managed to maintain my unbeaten record to take the 1km title in 1:06.001. Not my best ride, actually the first time I’ve won at the worlds without breaking the WR, but still it was good enough to take my 5th consecutive world title and the coveted rainbow bands. So LA turned out to be a mixed bag of results, but I did get a full set of medals!
After the worlds it was back to training and preparations for the London Paralympics. Another visit to Majorca for another 10day training camp kick started the final cycle off. It ended with me heading to the Tower of London for a bit of modelling and showing off the Adidas kit that all the GB athletes would be racing in at the home games.
In between all the training, with the build-up to the games I ended up doing quite a bit of publicity, the most fun was the 3 part Sainsbury’s short films, and the Paralympic promo video for Channel4. Some of the shots in the films were pretty cool, and due to the way they were filmed, they gave you an insight into track cycling that you just don’t normally see.
With the year flying by, the Olympics came and went, and before you knew it, I was at the holding camp in Newport, putting the final touches to my preparations for London. Things were looking good, as I PB’d in pretty much every session on the holding camp, just one little hiccup was a crash on day 2, but I survived with just a friction burn on my hip and elbow. A massive relief considering I hit the deck at 75kph!
Then it was time to race, with the kilo up first I was ready to go, with all my competitors going before me I was feeling really confident as I stepped on the track, especially as the fastest time was still half a second slower than my Beijing winning time and still some 9/10ths of a second slower than my WR, and I was going faster than ever now. I just needed to race at my best and that was it, unfortunately it all started to go wrong in a big way! I made my start just as I have countless times in training, however something was wrong, the gate held me, the next thing I know I’m wheel spinning and going sideways. Not ideal. So I stuck my hand up, and called for a mishap, pulled off the track and got ready to take to the start again. However that was it, I was unfairly denied a 2nd start, and that was it, a big fat DNF next to me name, and what followed wasn’t my proudest moment, but it will go down in Paralympic history in the same way as John McEnroe’s outburst at Wimbledon in 1981.
I basically threw all the toys out of my pram at anybody who would listen, in denial that I wouldn’t be defending my kilo title, and was removed from the velodrome. Knowing I was out of order I wanted to apologise, and try to put things right, at least to all the kids that had witnessed my foul mouthed tirade. So a little later I came back out to apologise to everyone in the crowd, then to the sponsors and governing bodies and organisers in a press conference and media scrum. Then finally I headed back to the village as I had to compose myself and come back and race the 4km pursuit the following day.
With the crowd behind me I ripped around the velodrome in qualifying to a new British Record, and 3rd best time. In the final I made short work of my opponent and took Bronze with an overtake in 51Ž4 laps. I covered the first 1km quicker than the winning time from the previous day. Considering the disappointment the day before, and the fact I hadn’t focussed on the pursuit as I placed all my eggs in the kilo basket, a bronze medal really did feel like winning gold. Having watched the footage back, it looks like I started the tiniest of fraction too early hence the gate held me when I pulled forward. Unfortunately though, the false start wasn’t called by the commissaires, so I didn’t get the immediate restart the rules state.
London will always be memorable for me for some amazing highs and some equally amazing lows, but I’m glad I can say I was there and I won a medal in front of the best and noisiest crowd anyone can ask for.
My racing year finished with a few more races on the track, a bronze medal in the Team Sprint at nationals, a 2nd place in the flying lap at the Revolution track series, and in my final race of 2012, a win in the 10mile scratch race in the final round of the MRTL Premier Division track league.
2013 will be a really important year for training, as I plan my revenge in Rio. On the way to 2016 I have also set myself the ambitious target of riding for England at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. So the hard work starts again, and my motivation is sky high.
Thanks to all my family, friends and supporters and all my sponsors!
See you in 2013, and happy cycling.
Mark Colbourne and I have produced a video featuring the Para-cycling team.
As myself, Mark and the rest of the Para-cycling team are unable to attend the Opening Ceremony tonight due to the cycling events starting tomorrow, we wanted to share a little video with you to say “Hello!”
We shot, directed and edited the “Hello!” video as a thank you for the overwhelming support we’ve received from the British public, and it was a fantastic opportunity for the whole team to get together and capture some moments from our time in the holding camp and athletes village.
Making the video was fun; we wanted to get together as a team and show we have personalities outside our day job, but also show some of our preparations in Newport. In doing so we hopefully put a smile on people’s faces…. Enjoy!
Day 2 and it was time for me to race the 4km Pursuit. Having won a silver medal in Montichiari the year before I was seeded into the last but one heat. I was lined up against Aaron Trent of the USA. As I built up speed to settle into my race rhythm I came out of turn 2 to be greeted by an official and the carpets from the start gate still in the middle of the track, not something thats normally there. Having averted the official I dropped down off the track, and hoped I would get a restart. Fortunately I would and I would ride once my official heat had finished and post a time on my own. My head a little all over the shot I settled back into the start gate and prepared for my 16 lap test. Within 2 laps I knew that it was going to be a long 4km, as the gear felt massive, which considering I’d gone down in size because of the conditions and the track I thought was worrying. Once I had slipped of the pace my coach was walking I just tried to push on as much as possible. My target was to take the fastest time, a time I comfortable rode last year, that way I would be guaranteed another ride regardless of the outcome of the final heat. As the laps continued I kept pushing on, with words of encouragement being shouted from track side by Chris Furber, it’s the most animated I’ve see him while I’ve been racing, so I knew it was going to be tight.
I crossed the line in 4:55.958, some 11 seconds off my best, although in the tough conditions it was good enough to top the leader board. The world champ and bronze medalist from the previous worlds gunned for my time in the final heat to knock me down to 3rd. In the final I would now be riding for Bronze against Roberto Alcaide from Spain.
For the final I dropped my gear again, to hopefully suit the track and conditions, and immediately out of the gate I felt more controlled than in the morning qualifying , and I was on schedule, after 2laps I caught a glimpse of my opponent, and at that point I made the conscious decision to go for the catch.
I injected some pace and within 5laps I had overcome my opponent to win the bronze. It was quite satisfying catching Roberto as he had caught me for 2 minutes during the time trial at the world road championships last September!
The final was an cracking pursuit contest, with Carol Eduard Novak taking the title ahead of previous world champions and WR holder Jiri Jezek.
2011 has to be one of the quickest years I can remember, it only seems like yesterday I was seeing in the New Year and here I am at the end of it writing my 2011 review.
2011 started with a training camp in Majorca, this was part of my preparations for the World Track Championships, and we were treated to some great weather which was especially welcome as the day we left the UK it was snowing. I managed to get some quality miles in during the camp, these miles would prove to be valuable to the rest of the season, especially as I’d added the 4km Pursuit to my racing program.
With 2 training camps back to back in Newport on my return to the UK, preparations for the world champs were almost complete. So it was off to Italy, and a chance to race again on the world scene. First up was the 4km Pursuit, an event I’d only ever ridden 2 or 3 times before, and never really mastered. However with all the extra endurance work of the previous year, I pulled out a massive 20 second PB in qualifying to make it to the gold medal ride off against Jiri Jezek. I got a little too excited in the final starting off way too quick, and soon paid for my fast start, but a silver medal at the world championships in a new event put a smile on my face. The following 2 days of racing were business as usual as I returned to the events I know and love, the kilo and team sprint. I surprised myself in the kilo, breaking my WR by 3 tenths of a second, which considering a lot of my focus had been on pursuit in the run up to the competition, it was a welcome surprise. The final day of competition was the team sprint, and with the rules changing regarding composition of the team almost at every event I was part of a new line up. This time, myself, Darren Kenny and Terry Byrne lined up against the Chinese team in the final. With both teams breaking the WR in qualifying it was always going to be a good race, and sure enough the level of competition pushed us to another world record. Although this only stood for about 2 weeks before the rules were changed once again by the UCI.
So track worlds were a success, I came away with 2 WR’s 2 gold medals and a surprise silver, it was a great way to start the year especially with the London Paralympics just over a year away.
Upon returning home from the World Championships I had my first race in the colours of Para-T, the team I’d set up with my girlfriend. It was a great debut for the team, and really helped raise awareness to the standard of Para-Cycling.
With no break in training my focus switched to competing on the road, as I travelled to Sydney Australia for the first round of the UCI Para-Cycling World Cup. I was there to score qualification points for GB, these points are essential as without them the team may have to make tough decisions on who they take to the Paralympics next year. The racing in Sydney was a shock to the system but an 8th in the road race and a 6th in the time trial were all valuable points.
On my return from Australia the road miles started to build up, as did the competitions. Next up was a block of racing in multiple countries as I continued my qualification points quest, first up was Piacenza in Italy, with a 5th place overall and one of my favourite races of the whole year, then it was a quick drive to Switzerland for another 2 day race in Gippingen. Before then joining up with the GB squad and heading out to Segovia in Spain for the 2nd round of the UCI world cup, although I struggled in the road race I scored more important points in the time trial. With my little road trip almost to an end it was a quick flight over to Glasgow, where I joined a few other members of the GB squad to take part in the middle 4 days of the Deloitte Ride Across Britain.
With all the travelling and racing, my body was getting pretty tired, but it was all important miles in my legs, and I hoped that these would prove valuable for 2012.
Super Human Poster by Fiona Banner
With a quiet period without any races for a few weeks I could get on with a few other things that had come my way, first up was a photo shoot for Sky, as I’d just been signed up to their Sky Sports Scholarships program, they were going to offer financial and media support in the run up to 2012. In the same week as the Sky photo shoot I made my way down to London, where I was meeting with Fiona Banner, a Turner Prize winning artist. She had been commissioned to produce 1 of 12 posters for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and I was to be the subject of her poster. It was quite a daunting process as Fiona has a technique were she paints with words, and I was to model nude (only slightly scary!). But I thought about the posters that you still see from Olympics past, and thought it was definitely worth being part of history, so that was it, there I was stood naked in Fiona’s studio! To be honest after the initial shock it wasn’t so bad, and by the end I was pretty comfortable, however I don’t think I’ll be turning to life modelling anytime soon, although at least I know what’s involved now!
The next challenge for me was the National TT Championships, and although the event was under subscribed it still proved a tough test as it took in a few climbs which were 14-16% in gradient, not exactly what you want in the middle of a time trial, and definitely not suited to me, but I came out with a 4th place, which although isn’t great, I couldn’t give anymore.
With only a few weeks to help fine tune my preparations I was on the way to Roskilde Denmark for the World Road Championships, in the pursuit for more qualification points. First up was the time trial, and 2 laps of the 15.2km course. I tried to measure my effort over the course so I would have enough left in the 2nd lap, but as I crossed the finish line on the 1st lap I was overtaken by my minute man and was starting to struggle and lost my rhythm. By the time I managed to find it again, I was well on the way to finishing the course! 12th place in the end, not too disappointed, but would have been nice to make it to the top 10 and score a few points. After a day of rest and recovery it was an early start for the road race. 5 laps of the TT course, as the course was relatively flat it was difficult to make the break and get away. However a small group of C5 athletes did just that along with one C4. The race came down to a bunch sprint for 2nd place, and although with my speed I was in a good place to get a result, with less than 1km to go I struggled in the bunch for position. I really didn’t want to risk crashing and ruining my 2012 preparations, so I pulled out of the bunch and let them go. I think if I was an out and out road racer it would have been a no brainer and I would have been in that sprint for the finish, however I’m not at the moment, but who knows in years to come.
Off the bike I was busy again, doing some filming and photo’s for Alexander Mann Solutions who have agreed to support and sponsor me in the run up to the Paralympics, and beyond. Another project I’ve been involved in is with Sainsburys & Channel 4. I was one of 10 athletes they decided to profile in the run up to the games over 3 short films. The first went out in the summer and the remainders go out in 2012. They were good fun filming, and I can’t wait to see the outcome as the first film looked great.
With the Worlds over it was time to get back to the velodrome, and a few weeks of preparation before the National Track Championships. The first part of the preparation was a 3 day block of training on the Olympic Velodrome in London, it was a valuable experience and I now know what to expect come the Paralympics.
The Nationals were a great start to the track season, I placed 5th in the open kilo in the fastest time I’ve posted at a season start. I also had a great ride with Jon-Allan Butterworth and Terry Byrne in the Open Team Sprint coming in 5th place also. However the highlight of Nationals was my flying 200m WR in the Open Sprint Qualification, a time of 10.805 and good enough to place me 11th overall.
With Nationals done for another year I found myself in another photo studio. This time I was there for the Royal Mail getting my picture taken for a series of Olympic & Paralympic stamps that will be released in 2012.
I finished my year the way I started it, on a training camp in Majorca. I made the best of the good weather and got all my endurance base miles in prior to the World Championships which are early in 2012, everything went well apart from the flight home, which got cancelled, but made it back the following day with a little help from my brother and dad!
The finale to 2011 ended with me being named the BBC East 2011 Disability sports personality of the year, something I’m very proud of.
2011 has been a busy year filled with a lot racing, travelling and promotion, and 2012 promises more of the same, plus the added bonus of a home Paralympic Games, something to get really excited by!
Thanks to my sponsors, friends, family and especially my girlfriend Christina, who have helped make it happen. Here’s to 2012!
A collection of specially commissioned images by twelve of the UK’s leading artists to celebrate the London 2012 Games have been unveiled. Each image is a distinct interpretation of either the Olympic or Paralympic Games by the artists, with the diversity of the series demonstrating the creative talent that exists within the UK. The images will go on show at Tate Britain in a free exhibition as part of the London 2012 Festival in the summer of 2012 and will also be featured as part of a high profile campaign to promote the London 2012 Games.
Earlier this year I stood as a model for Fiona Banner in order to create one of the Paralympic posters – “Superhuman Nude” I feel very honoured to be part of the campaign. I was over the moon when I was told that Fiona wanted to work with me for one of the London 2012 posters and I am absolutely delighted with the final product. The feedback has been fantastic so far and I can’t wait to have it hanging in my house now!
Superhuman Poster by Fiona Banner
A set of the images has been given to the Queen for the Royal Collection and to other important British art collections, including the Government Art Collection (which will be displaying the images in 10 Downing St in 2012) and the British Council (which is planning on exhibiting the images across China in 2012 as part of ‘UK Now’, the largest festival of British arts ever to be shown in China, as well as displaying the posters in British Council’s across the world).
The images will also be available to buy as both posters and limited edition prints. The posters (at a cost of £7) and a small number of limited edition prints will be available to order on the London 2012 online shop. The limited edition prints will also be for sale individually and as a special boxed set from Counter Editions, the publisher of the prints, who can be contacted on [email protected] and +44 207 684 8888.
Fiona Banner – Superhuman Nude
Fiona Banner creates nude studies from life, transcribing physical scenarios into verbal descriptions. These ‘wordscapes’ define the shapes and forms of the body as well as fleeting moments such as the tension in a second of shared eye contact, or a nervous finger tapping. Banner’s print is described as a nude study of a Paralympic Athlete. The title alludes to the extraordinary physicality of his body. She focuses on strength and physicality but also on the fragility of a human awaiting competition. Banner says ‘I liked the idea of comparing the athlete to a superhero, with some extraordinary prosthetic gift. Looking at an athlete naked made them powerful and vulnerable at once.’
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.