2018 has been a busy year for me. Too busy to keep up this blog in fact. With my finals at university, balancing racing and revision was quite enough on my plate. And when I did hit my essay deadlines, the last thing I felt like doing was more writing.
The start of the year went well with a strong team display at the Tour Ta Malta. I surprised myself with 12th in the prologue and a 5th in the queen stage. I managed to come away with 5th on GC, but more importantly the strong had been dominant; two stage wins and 3rd overall. Our confidence was high as we came back to get stuck into the domestic scene.
I took a podium at the Sloan Trophy up in Northumberland and managed fair rides at BUCS RR & Chorely GP, two target races for me. Whilst studies took a priority throughout the spring, I did make the most of the brilliant Chevin Cycles Evening Road Race Series. but still didn’t see any breakthrough results on weekend road races. As I finished my studies I could finally look ahead to a four-month stint back in Belgium with Goma Dakwerken cycling team.
Unfortunately, in my final preparations before I travelled over, I crashed on a gravel road out training. I took a sizable chunk out of my left leg, just below the knee. It went down to the bone, and although I didn’t know it at the time, had severed my patellar tendon. All I did know was agony and struggled to communicate with the emergency services on my mobile as I couldn’t stop screaming. I was extremely fortunate to be found shortly by several drivers who spoke on the phone and helped get me out of the road. One retired fireman who had a first aid kit in his car, calmed me down and warded off flies from the wound for 50 minutes before the ambulance arrived. I will be eternally grateful to the kindness he showed me that day.
After some time in hospital with the initial surgery and several courses of antibiotics, I left fixed in one regard but feeling broken. The surgeons had done an excellent job of the mess I’d made but the tendon itself would take months to heal, not to mention build back the strength & muscle mass in my left quad which had wasted away considerably over the period in hospital.
All previous plans for the summer were abandoned and I’ve been wasting away the days bronzing in the heatwave, watching the world cup and hitting the bench press in the gym to let off steam. I have made good progress with a physiotherapist: from learning to walk again, to building up to easy rides and weight-training in the gym.I’ve been extremely blessed to have the support of friends, family and teammates throughout this period and I can only hope to repay their actions with loyalty in the future.
The time off the bike has been tough mentally but has also given me a good opportunity to have a long think about what I truly value in life, much of which I’ve often taken for granted, and what I want to achieve in the future. Certainly, there is more fire in the belly than ever before, and although the wheels on my bike may be stationary, things are already in motion for 2019. I’ve got more ambition than ever, and I’ll be back.