My Story A lanky lad from Cromford
I had always watched the Tour De France as a kid with my dad, seeing Cav win multiple stages and had been interested in his success, making him my favourite rider for a long time. However, like most kid’s football was my main interest below the age of 10 but let’s just say kicking a ball was never my strong point. So, the next logical step for a small underdeveloped skinny boy was to play rugby.
Starting in the under 9’s I played for 5 years and enjoyed every game and training session. But still being small and skinny in the under 14’s I had an epiphany induced by a 6-foot 20 stone player that this wasn’t the sport for me.
Then I decided to start cycling, joining Matlock cycling club in 2015, I started doing a few TT’s, the youth rides and Tuesday night rides, being very dropped in the later 2! Keeping at it, I started taking it more seriously in 2017, entering numerous youth circuit races (again being dropped in nearly everyone- although I had grown I hadn’t put on any muscle) and did more TT’s which I enjoyed a lot more.
2018 then came around and I started to get some top 10’s in circuit races and setting age group course records in the local TT’s. With the help of Jakroo UK who provided me with a aero skinsuit I managed to top 20 at the national TT youth championships, something that surprised me a lot. In 2018 my biggest achievement by far was doing my first Everesting challenge for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) and Clic Sargent. In doing so I raised £3,000 for these 2 charities and also became the youngest person ever to do an off-road Everest. (see my Everest Blog for more info).
The same year I finished my GCSE’s and my love for the Tour de France was fully confirmed with a 2 week trip with my Dad and Clint doing most of the famous climbs in France and then a VIP trip to the Sky bus courtesy of Dave (cheers Dave). Things then started to come together in 2019, my first year as a junior. Joining Ilkeston cycling club really helped me with my development as a rider. I achieved my season goal of getting my category 2 license in June with a second place at the Junior regional Championships. Then it was time to focus on gaining tactical experience and results.
A good national road champs was followed by a podium and top 5’s in midweek crits, honing my form for the Hill climb season (favourite cycling discipline). The season was focused on longer steadier climbs that suit me best in order to prepare for the national championships. This was up Haytor in Devon a tough, long climb that lead me to achieving 5th place. This set me up in good stead for the 2020 season.
In January of 2020 I did a performance test for the HMT Hospitals Giant cycling team (the UK’s no.1 junior team) because I was going to be a guest rider for some races in the year. However, circumstances arose meaning that Mark was able to offer me a full ride on the team. This was a major step in my cycling career and I was planning on giving it my all. We managed to do one race as a team, Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne. A race that doesn’t suit me and arguably the hardest junior one-day race in the world, being thrown in the deep end for my first foreign race. This was an amazing experience with lots of lessons learned.
Then Covid happened and all the races got cancelled, including the Ain Bugey Valromey tour (junior Tour de France), junior tour of the Basque Country amongst many others. A huge shame but that’s life. To overcome this period of no racing, I targeted setting a junior world Everesting record to raise money for the Alzheimer’s society and CRY again. This was a huge goal and with the right prep from my coach (Oli) and support from everyone on the day I managed to become a world record holder and raise another £3,000 for charity. (see the 2nd Everest Blog for more info). A 5 week working trip to the Pyrenees followed (see Pyrenees Blog for more info) and then its onwards to the hill climb season and 2021 goals.