With my break over and batteries recharged, it was back to the hard graft of training. For me that meant a return to the gym to increase my strength, and some miles on the road to increase my endurance. Having had such a long time out of the gym, the first few sessions were pretty painful as my muscles got used to lifting heavy weights again, but I was back into the swing of things pretty quickly. To help with the endurance I headed back to Majorca with the GB squad for an 18day camp. Majorca is a great place to train, and from December to March you’ll see some of the best cyclists in the world making the most of the good weather, great roads and mountains the island has to offer. The first week in Majorca was made up of a small group of 6 athletes, where we rode in small groups and individually to our specific training programmes. After 7days based in Alcudia, we joined the remainder of the GB Para-Cycling team in Santa Maria del Cami, to stay at the Reads hotel. Having had 7days of glorious sunshine I can safely say the remainder of the team brought out typically Manchester weather with them, as for 2 days straight, the temperature dropped the wind increased and the rain fell!
With the 3rd day of training done with the team, I made my way to the airport for a quick stop to London before heading back the morning after, as I was off to the Stella McCartney 2012 Olympic/Paralympic kit launch at the tower of London. With over 300 VIP’s, media and guests invited this was a massive event, and I was to be one of 30 athletes wearing the kit for the first time. On arrival from the airport it was straight to the venue for rehearsals, and to meet the other athletes (well the ones that had arrived!). Each athlete had specific queues to enter and leave the stage, I would be taking the stage in the first wave of athletes, entering through the first door with Frazier Cambell from Sunderland football Club and Peter Reed, Olympic Rowing Champion from the Coxless fours in Beijing. After rehearsals it was time to see the kit and try it on for the first time, and crucially make any alterations if necessary for the following mornings unveil. Fortunately the skinsuit I would be wearing for the launch fitted perfectly. The kit looked amazing!! Incorporating a stylised blue union flag at the centre of the design, it was certainly eye catching, and when seen altogether you can see the teams unique identity. With the fitting done it was time for food and then straight to bed, as we were up early the following morning to go through more rehearsals, to make sure everything ran like clockwork.
After breakfast it was on with the kit which we then had to cover with a plain grey tracksuit so we could travel to the venue without the paparazzi outside getting an exclusive peek! Safely into the venue we went through a full dress rehearsal, before heading into hair and makeup. Looking good we were all set, and led to the staging area before the show would start. As we queued up in the order the nerves started to kick in, then Florence and the Machines, No Light No Light started to blast out of the PA system and the hidden door we were stood behind slid open as we walked out to our choreographed routine to over 300 VIP’s, reporters and a field of cameras. It felt good walking out in the kit to show it off to the world, but standing there I could feel my leg shaking with the nerves. I’m glad I don’t ever feel like that before my races! After the launch it was time to tell the press outside what we all thought of the kit and how preparations for the biggest sporting event we’d ever take part in were going. For my final interview I was invited to sit in with Stella McCartney, to offer an athlete’s perspective on the kit alongside Javelin thrower Goldie Sayers as Stella spoke to some members of the fashion press. As the day drew to a close it was time to hand all the kit back, knowing the next time I’ll be wearing it, all the hard work will be done and the Paralympics are about to start.
An early flight the following morning took me back to Majorca to finish the remainder of the GB training camp I was on. Thankfully on my return the sun had returned, and it was back to training in short sleeved jerseys and shorts! The final day in Majorca was a busy one, taking in the biggest climbs on the island, and also filming with Sky, who had flown out to get a behind the scenes look for an upcoming advert they have planned. On completion of the ride I jumped in a van with the Sky crew to head out to a private road to film some close up images that you just couldn’t do on the open roads. So I rode alongside the cameraman who was strapped to a quad bike as we sped along this short stretch of road. It was good fun, and before long they’d got everything they needed for the advert, except for some shots on the velodrome. However, they’re coming to Manchester to film those sections in a few days’ time.
With the endurance work in the bag its back to the track and gym now, to continue to work on my strength and speed. I’m also off to Herne Hill for the Good Friday cycling meet, the only racing on the track I’ll do prior to the Paralympics, and a chance to race in events that aren’t at the Paralympics. The meet has returned to Herne Hill after switching to Manchester last year, the velodrome is steeped with history being the track used at the 1948 Olympics last time they were in London. However it’s outdoors, so I hope the glorious weather we’ve just had returns, as the last 2 times I’ve raced there the meet has been cancelled due to rain!
Catch you all soon