Today was a very sad day. I decided to move on from a team that have been pretty much an integral part of everything that now shapes my life.
PMR@Toachim House is a team based in Kent run by a chap called Paul Morton with his Dad, Tom, and sponsored by Andrew Wills of Toachim House Veterinary Surgery. There are so many people who make the team what it is, but these guys are the main dudes.
This is how the story goes…
One day in 2013 I found myself back at Mum and Dad’s house with two degrees and no job. I thought, ‘Bum, what am I going to do with myself!?’ I’d been time-trailing a bit with Dad at my local club, Thornton Road Club, but wanted to have a go at a race.
I had a chat with Dad and he said to have a chat with Tom (who he knows from years of cycling). So I did. Next thing I know I’ve been given a set of kit and applied for a racing licence.
Next thing I know I’ve found myself a job and moved back to London (booo!) but I was now living within cycling distance of the Cyclopark (hurrah!) One evening I did my first ever race (in the pissing rain of course). It was brilliant! I made the 4-woman break (from a field of 10 I might add) and finished 3rd. Result. The next race was harder. I got dropped but I had got the racing bug (nb. I have had the cycling bug since birth, the racing bug is very different).
Then I booked a last-minute flight to Mallorca for the PMR team training camp. It was ridiculous amounts of fun. I took my pride and joy with me – a Columbus tubed steed called Geoffrey with 650 cc wheels (bought with the money I’d saved up from a couple of months of being on the dole…) He was red and fully equipped with SPD ‘clippy pedals’. I also wore a really shit very un-aero, very non-lightweight, embarrassment of a helmet (very non-expensive though!)
To everyone’s surprise I actually managed to keep up with the boys (and even dropped a few on the climbs…) As a result Andrew and Paul deemed my darling Geoffrey a bit of a liability and sorted me out with a beautiful Canyon to race on (for which I will be forever grateful). I invested in ‘proper clippy pedals’ and posh carbon cycling shoes to match and.. voila! I was becoming a bit more like a racing cyclist (the shit helmet still remained firmly on my head).
I spent that summer racing crits after work proudly wearing my PMR jersey and slowly getting better race by race. At the end of summer I entered my first road race. It was slightly mental but ace. Yep, next year I wanted to do more of those.
Around about this time I started riding to races with a handsome cyclist from my office and at the end of the race season we jetted off to Italy together and fell in love on the top of Stelvio.
I took Lee with me to PMR’s Christmas dinner where I met my new team mates for next year (yes, team mates! Other girls! woo!) and was given the ‘Most Improved Rider’ award for making the transition from ‘numpty on a steel bike with SPDs’ to ‘reasonably turned out rider with 2nd cat racing licence’ (nb. shit helmet still in service).
Soon after Stelvio (3 whole months to be precise) Lee and I moved into a little cottage near Sevenoaks and spent winter commuting to London and squeezing in training on his and hers turbo’s in the shed.
Come race season a miracle had occurred. I was now the proud owner of a non-shit helmet. I was finally able to stick the shit helmet in the bin thinking ‘Yes! Now I will look very cool indeed!’ But most importantly I was also part of PMR’s first full women’s road race team – and we were taking on the country.
The first race of 2015 was a wash out, and my super cool new kit and super awesome Canyon (by now christened Chiquita) were very wet indeed. But I had survived and was up for Round II.
2015 was a truly mega year. I saw parts of the UK I’ve never seen before, I rode with Olympic Champs, I got on TV and had serious amounts of fun with my teamies. My results were good. Nothing to write home about but good. I was riding with the best riders in the UK and hanging on in there – I was by no means competitive in the national races, but I was there and that felt epic. We even parked up next to Lizzie at the National Champs. Now that was super super cool.
In the middle of the race season, just after the hecticness that was the Tour Series (think flying to Glasgow for a 40 min crit) Lee decided to move to Girona and managed to get himself a job. I’d just quit my job in London and started working at a bike shop and had the race season to finish off, but we packed up the cottage, I moved to a room in Tunbridge Wells and off he went! I joined him a month later and began living my current ridiculously cool life here.
After a few weeks we managed to nail the perfect romantic ride together and Lee proposed up a mountain (we were wearing matching PMR kit of course!)
This brings me more or less up to now, moving on from this amazing bunch of people who have been so much a part of my life for two whole years. And hell, I’m sure Lee wouldn’t have even fancied me if I’d turned up at the office on race day with Geoffrey! (although he didn’t seem to mind the shit helmet, so fingers crossed we’re good!)
So thank you, thank you, thank you to PMR@Toachim House – you are one fabulous bunch of guys and gals.