My First Month
It’s March the 12th and here is my blog of my first month in Spain.
On February the 12th I got through customs no problems and had a real smooth journey. Met by my team manager Jose in Alicante’s airport carpark, we set off to the team house and set off to commence my year in Spain.
When we got to the team house, I met the lads, unpacked and got settled in. The team kit and bikes were delayed due to some virus as per! So, for the first 2 weeks I was in last years HMT kit but when we did get our brand-new Ale kit that was an immediate swap. The Ale kit is class, and the design is a smart monochrome look. I am planning to do a kit and bike review video on my YouTube and a review blog too so keep posted for that. The bike was a more complex affair to say the least. Initially I was on a BH climbing bike for a week borrowed from a friend on the team but then it was taken away the day before the big team ride. This meant I had no bike for that which I was pretty annoyed about initially as I had trained specifically for the team ride the week before. However, at the end of the day it was one ride and none of it was in my control. Then the day after (Sunday) I was on an old team bike from a few years ago. This served me well then for the following 3 weeks managing to get some decent hours in. Finally, today I have me team bike which should be ready to go from now, it is a BH RS1 4.5 with pics and a review to follow.
The roads round here initially took some getting used to, but I am slowly but surely adjusting to them, and will be able to send it some more now I am on my permanent bike for the year.
The weather has been interesting to say the least. The 2 weeks were lovely, loads of sun and not much else. Then for the past week and half it was- to put it bluntly-crap. Rain, low temperatures and wind made it difficult to do a bunch of stuff, from drying clothes properly to staying on the bike. Yep, that’s right I managed to have a get down last Wednesday. Going up the Puerto de Tudons I started an effort that was meant to be 20 mins long, however 20 seconds in I went round a chicane at maybe 5% at 30kph and my front wheel just went on some oil. I landed hard on my left cutting up my knee and hip (tearing my new shorts in the process), but it was my wrist that was worse off. I had to go to the doctors here where the wrapped it up in compression bandages gave me some drugs and said I’ll be reet (alright for those of you not familiar). The bandages weren’t working for me, so I walked round Cocentaina (where I live) to find a wrist splint. I did manage to at 16 euros!! This better last a while aha. Fortunately, I was able to ride from Friday onwards, but it meant my week went from a planned 18 hours to 10 hours (on the bike, I still managed to do some adapted gym work).
The language barrier is hard, but I am learning more and more Spanish daily. Personally, I am finding just practising Spanish with the locals and team riders is the best way for me to learn. Also, although people slate Google translate for its inaccuracies it is proving a really useful tool for me too learn. A great example is when I had my first massage by Davide (a soigneur who works with Astana occasionally and who’s whole family is involved in cycling, from is dad who is a ex Vuelta podium finisher and agent for Superman Lopez to his sister who also has ties as a soigneur for Astana!) Davide speaks Spanish and Italian and not so much English. So I managed to have a massage length conversation with him (50 mins ish) using translate to ask him questions and also to understand some of the words he was saying to me. I am slowly getting there!
Other than tall of hat the food shop is cheap split 6 ways and Mom and Dad have said they’re saving a bunch by me being here! And the coffee stops are a euro each- a personal highlight.
Now then that’s a wrap for my one-month lowdown. Overall a class month despite its downs. Now I am in a nice routine and settled it can only go up from here, especially as racing is just around the corner.
So, I just thought I would do a short update before my one-month review on the 12th. The races I mentioned in the Feb blog have both been, unfortunately postponed. Meaning my first race now is on the 21st of March at a place called Astillero near Santander. I will do a pre race review before hand, not sure what on yet may make a Instagram reel or TikTok to experiment on my socials. Trying to expand and do more so let me know if you have any ideas! Team bike YouTube video and kit review coming up also some more exciting Path to Pro’s coming up. Now I am in my routine consistency is coming.
February for me so far has been getting everything in place for my move to Spain. I have my Spanish residency now so I can fly no worries, the PCR test is booked, and suitcases are down from the attic ready to pack. I am writing this on the 7th of feb and from today are only 5 days until I fly out to Alicante. I will be joining my other British teammates; Tom Martin, Louis Sutton, Matt Watson and Joe Bennet in our house based in Cocentaina on the outskirts of Alcoi. The area is very mountainous, well suited to my preference as a rider.
The first race of the year was due to be the Spanish cup Don Benito on the 28th (Spain’s equivalent of the UK national series but on a large scale). This race has been cancelled due to some virus that’s going round. So, the next raced planned on the calendar is the next round of the Spanish cup- Guerrita on March 7th. Fingers crossed that goes ahead.
The plan when I arrive in Spain on the 12th is to move into the house and get settled. Then collect the team bikes and kit (very excited about this) then the next step is to the training camp on the 18th to the 21st. Here I will get to meet all the other Spanish teammates and practise my newly learnt Spanish- or what I can of it.
Other than the excitement of moving to Spain and getting all my team kit, for the 2021 season I am being supported by Pedal Potential and the Lewis Balyckyi Trust Fund. These funds do an amazing job in supporting young riders chase their dream of becoming professional. I am extremely grateful of their support for this season and will do my best to achieve the results deserving of the support they give. Check out my sponsor/support page on my website for their links!
Team Announcement 2021
A late change of plan but I'm delighted to announce I'll be riding for Fundación De Ciclismo Benicadell in Spain next year.
They are part of Bahrain Mclarens feeder setup. Living out there and racing and training, looking forward to hitting some big races and stage races that suit me.
A huge thanks to everyone who's helped get me here on this journey so far. All in now for a big winter of traning with cycling performance coaching.
An elite/U23 Spanish team with many years of experience. Last year the team moved 4 riders up to the pro ranks, and with direct links to the Bahrain Victorious world tour squad there is some exciting pathways to follow.
With all my summer racing cancelled this year at the start of June, I told Oli (my coach) that I wanted to work towards an Everest. With previous experience of this discipline, taking the youth off road record a few years back, I decided on a climb which would require the same amount of ascents, 65.
Careful planning and a lot of maths went into this, we wanted to make sure we didn't make the mistake of under estimating how many reps we would have to do and utilised the knowledge from Andy Nichols, a big shout out to Andy for his advice on my nutritional strategy.
I also set up a Just Giving page, in order to donate towards Cardiac Risk In The Young and Alzheimers Society where £3000 was raised, truly amazing. Support on the day was incredible, many gave up their Saturday to help marshal and support the attempt, it was this support which helped me through the hardest reps in the second half and the fact that people didn’t choose to lose their loved ones really put the pain I was experiencing into perspective. A completion time of 8:53 puts me in the seat of the fastest junior rider worldwide to complete an Everest. Something I am incredibly proud of.
Thank you to all those who came out to support, with special mentions to Ilkeston Cycle Club, my mom and dad and Oli for their continued support.
I set myself the target of ascending from High Peak junction to Black Rocks 63 times in one day to achieve 8940 metres of climbing for my Everesting challange. It was on Saturday 14th April, and I started at 05:30am. After a mammoth 17 hours of riding successfully completed the challenge at 22:30 that night. I was aided by Steve Heading who rode with me almost all the way. I was totally physicallly and mentally drained after the ride.
I would not have been able to complete it without the amazing support of my friends, family and Matlock CC members who were there throughout the day. My Everesting raised £2651 for Cardiac Risk in the Young and CLIC Sargent.