How to Start?

I wasn’t sure how to start a first post on a new blog, but I thought an introduction about who I am was a good a place as any.

I started riding properly when I was 14 and my parents brought me a Kona Blast as a joint birthday/Christmas present. I had been spurred on by a close group friends who all rode trials and I was fascinated by watching them leap straight up to surfaces as high as my shoulders, and jump gaps greater than my arm span while balancing on their rear wheel. I started to leap, bounce and crash my way around town with my friends teaching me as we went, and when the inevitable happened and something broke, I learnt how to fix it. It wasn’t long until my talent ran out, my shins were shredded to ribbons (I bear the scars of my early biking to this day), and I was happier fixing bikes than riding trials.

Time passed and tastes changed and I started looking for something slightly less damaging to do. The Kona had given way to a no-brand frame picked up for cheap at The Bike Show one year, the rear wheel was now a bomb-proof and heavy item with a ground rim to help with braking, and the brakes were a pair of everyone’s trials favourites, HS33s. Unfortunately this low geared, heavy, and tiny-framed bike was now fairly inappropriate for the cross country I now found myself riding more and more. Eventually things started to break, as a student I didn’t have the money to fix them, and the bike languished in the hallways of student housing.

Skip forward a few years and I was living in Arequipa in southern Peru and spending the last of my savings on building a bike more suitable for exploring the endless gravel roads and goat trails of the Andean foothills. Based around a Scott ProRacing frame (quite possibly a knock-off, I never could tell) with basic but usable finishing kit the bike carried me hundreds of kilometres over my two years in Arequipa. Rides of an hour or two became rides of 6 or 7 hours, which became multiple day rides with a backpack stuffed with a tent and sleeping bag. I had found what I loved.

When I moved back to the UK the bike came with me and as I began to explore just how far and fast I could travel in a day it was joined by a road bike, a Merida RideLite 90. Putting in the kilometres as I discovered the back roads and trails of Kent I began to look for something more structured to do with my cycling.

I found the Transcontinental Race.

I got a position to race in TCR No.3, 2015 and built up a Genesis CdF from a frameset. 105 groupset, TRP Spyre brakes, a hand build wheelset, and Deda finishing kit. I love the bike and we’ve covered some huge distances together. About 1/3 of the way in to TCR No.3 I scratched with knee problems. Disappointed and in pain I made way home and went to a physio. A couple of sessions and some lessons on how to stretch properly and I was back on the bike and training for TCR No.4. I started, I raced, and I finished in 14 days, 23 hours, and 31 minutes, just making the 15 day time cut and winning the Black Jersey.

That pretty much brings us up to date, apart from a theft, another new bike, and the challenge for 2017, but those are stories for another day.

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