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- Who We Are
'I am fairly new to cycling, by that I mean I'm not a lifelong cyclist, instead I came to cycling following a successful career in power sports. Unfortunately, injury and the ravages of time meant I needed to find a sport with less impact - cue the cycling.
At the age of 43, I bought my first bike and started doing some social rides, but in keeping with my competitive personality, it wasn't long before I found myself lining up for my first club TT. Well.... it was a royal mess, 2 miles into the 10 and my doors were blown off...starting WAY too hard and suffered desperately through the next eight miles....and loved it.
It wasn't long before I was reading about the discipline and making adjustments. Slowly I worked my way up the rankings in my club group taking my times down to around 23 mins. 2014 at the age of 47 saw me tentatively take my first steps into the open TT scene. It was hugely intimidating...but a rich learning experience. Quickly my times dropped into the 22's and then in 2015 I started, very slowly, to claw my way into the 21's.
I did however feel I was reaching the peak of my progression based purely on my intuition and limited knowledge from the Internet. Then a chance discussion with a triathlete friend raised the idea of a coach. It was a big step to take and one that would cost a fair bit of money, so I decided to get some advice. I talked to a friend (and local TT legend) John Madden who recommended Dig Deep...and so the next step in my journey began. After a consultation, I completed an FTP test (which are hateful by the way) results to be used in developing my training program. The change was quite startling...the hard sessions were hard...and the easy were easy...no more constantly slogging away...gradually grinding myself into the ground. Suddenly there were rest days (a completely alien concept to me up to then). There was a lot of variety in terms of intensity, cadence and duration to mention just a few areas.
The question was...would I trust the process? I'm such a driven person which often resulted in susceptible to overdoing it in the belief that more is better. It was a challenge, but I convinced myself that there's no point investing in a coach...to then not listen to him.
So it's fair to say that I followed the program more or less to the letter...and the results became apparent right from the start of the season. I kicked off with nine straight 21's in a row...a level of consistency I'd never had before. Then in August I broke that mental barrier of 20mins on NI's horrible grippy roads and posted 20:57. I was delighted. Little did I know there was a lot more to come...in successive weeks that number dropped to 20:23 and then 20:21. This form saw me pick up a silver medal at the Ulster 10 Championships. Buoyed by this, I tackled the Ulster 25 championships on a really tough course and smashed my PB by over 2mins completing a 55 and winning my first Ulster title. As the season neared its conclusion I entered the Ulster 100 championships on what turned out to be atrocious conditions with gale force winds. All the guys who had competed the previous year were around 20-30mins slower this time around due to the severe conditions. I lost just 3 mins in comparison and took another Ulster title.
I am convinced the new training regime played a big part in my success this year but like all things in life, you get out what you put in. Coaching can be a huge benefit, but it's only part of the picture, ultimately it's down to you and your commitment over the long haul that determines your success. So, what does the future hold for me? Well, I’m an over 50 next year, and will be targeting yet more improvements with my coach...who knows maybe a 19 isn't out of the question.'