Last weekend I raced the Catalan Championships in Olot and a round of the Copa Espana in Alcobendas, Madrid. I traveled well over 1000 km, stayed the night in a Holiday Express, raced 150 kms (over the two races) and was away from home from 6:30 am on Saturday morning to 02:00 am on Sunday night.
I achieved a Silver medal in the Catalan Champs and 22nd place in Madrid. The whole experience cost me €13.10 (€5 on race entry and €8.10 on a giant pizza when the racing was done), the rest looked after by my team, Equip Frigorificas Costa Brava. This is unreal, but it’s not about the money. It’s about the people who make it happen. In my racing world there are three main players and it’s down to these three that I got my podium on Saturday:
Brian was very excited when he found out it was a week to go before I raced the Catalan Championships. He insisted on taking me motor-pacing to make sure my legs and body were in tip-top condition. Brian is a very busy man. He juggles 2 full time jobs, trains and races, and never says no to an opportunity. He spent two hours inflicting the hurt on me – towing me along at 50 kmph with a big grin on his face and yelling sprint instructions.
When he found out I was booking a taxi for my last leg home on Sunday night (a 20 min, €25 journey at 1:15 am), he insisted on picking me up in his car and taking me to my front door. After 6 hours in a car from Madrid (with horrendous gelly belly I might add), Brian’s grinning face at the Cassa de la Selva BP garage was a very welcome sight. He looked as fresh as he does at 9 am every morning and was utterly delighted to help.
Felisario is my team manager. He works full-time and has a wife and a family, yet every weekend in the race season he packs a bag and drives his team around the country. He finds sponsorship, he makes the team kit, he deals with all the hassle running a cycling team brings. And he is always smiling.
Last weekend Feli drove from his home in Sant Feliu to Olot (picking me up on the way) (90 km), he drove the support car in the race (70 km), he drove from Olot to Madrid (650 km), he drove the support car in the race (90 km), he drove from Madrid back to Sant Feliu (700 km). A total of 1,600 km in 48 hours. The man is a legend. He pumps out reggaeton, sings to Lady Gaga, skips to dinner, and when my bowl situation means we have to make emergency exits every 30 mins, he finds it hilarious and hits the accelerator so we make it to a bathroom on time.
And he is always positive at the end of the race, seeing the potential in every rider when we’re sometimes disappointed.
Yes, my lovely husband (of 9 months!) keeps me going. He is my motivation to stretch and train when otherwise I wouldn’t bother. He makes my food for racing (pasta before, gourmet bocadillo after, roast dinner when I make it home), he gives me lifts, he gives me massages, he translates when I haven’t got a clue what’s going on. He sorts out emergency holidays when we’re both cracked. He forces me to take a break, he fixes my bike when I am at the point where I am just making it worse.
Yesterday I had a bit of a melt down; I was fed up of being ill, the slow progress of the public health service and not being able to ride. He called a doctor, put me in the van and on the road to recovery. He’s simply an incredible human and I am so lucky and privileged to be his wife.
Then there are the countless others – the parents and partners of my teammates, who hand us bottles on the climb, who arrange all the logistics for a trip, who give up their time to support the team. There are the guys on the motorbikes who look after us as we race, there’s Marti, the Doctor at the Cenit Centre who gave me his time to help me get well.
When I left the UK and left my first race team, PMR@Toachim House, I wrote a blog about just how lucky was to have such an incredible support network and the impact that had had on me as a cyclist and on my life as a whole. Two years on and through cycling I have once again found an incredible bunch of people in my beautiful new home, without whom I just could not do what I do. Thank you.