Starting University as a Cyclist

It’s been a while since I last wrote anything on here, but with good reason. Life’s been busy. I have now completed my first term at university, changed teams and ridden a few thousand kilometres.

First some team news. In 2023 I am pleased to say that I’ll be riding with Team PB Performance, an Elite Development Team (EDT) here in the UK. My season will be focusing on the Tour Series and the hillier of the National A races (prems). I’d like to thank Tofauti Everyone Active for the last 2 seasons, giving me many opportunities to race some of the biggest junior races in the world, and giving me the support I needed.

At the start of October, I packed my bags and went off to Loughborough University, to study Natural Sciences, specialising in geography and physics. This has been a big, but enjoyable shift. Not only has it burst the bubble of being a full time bike rider after finishing A-Levels in June, but it has also meant I now need to do so much more, like my own washing and cooking. However, moving away from home has made me a more focused and well-rounded athlete (aside from freshers…). Since starting I have had to take on the role of being my own nutritionist and cleaner, alongside being my own coach, social media manager and rider agent. Did I mention I’m studying a degree?

So, why come to a small East Midlands town? I chose Loughborough because of how the course was set up, and the surrounding area of Leicestershire is great for riding, with it’s stunning scenery and quiet lanes. It also isn’t too far from home, only being a 90 minute drive up the M1. It was convenient that there were lots of good cyclists here, and that a strong setup exists around the uni. I can’t say it didn’t influence my decision to study here, but equally it was not the deciding factor. There are plenty of great non cycling things that drew me to Loughborough, like the on-site weather station and the high standard of teaching.

Me at BUCS (I had the devil on my shoulder that day)

Getting involved with the Uni’s cycling squad (LCA) has been a relatively quick process, and soon enough, at the beginning of November, I was 2nd in the British University (BUCS) Hill Climb, which I was pleased with, as this was my first BUCS event and I was the youngest rider in the top 15. The climb used was Terrace Hill, near Belvoir Castle, a fairly short climb at roughly 2.5 minutes but it contains some steep pinches of over 10%. We were also the best team on the day, meaning I came away with 2 medals.

Me (left) and teammate Corrin Leeming (right) on the podium

Only a week after the hill climb, it was time for the first Loughborough Performance Coaching training weekend. This is a very strong training group and setup based in Loughborough, headed by Phill Maddocks. Many of the UK’s strongest u23’s were present here, meaning it was going to be a tough weekend. In total, it was a 200 mile weekend, covered in 10 hours, safe to say I was done for after this. Both days were based out of Loughborough, so it’s convenient to have home training camps. The first day was 4.5 hours including sprint leadouts, and the second was 180k with a 15 minute chaingang every hour. Grim. I managed to hack round, just.

There is something about doing a big ride and coming back in to then revise for a few hours. It’s hard work, but I feel it is beneficial toward cycling and cycling is beneficial towards academia. It’s no different from A-Levels, yet it feels like a step up due to an increase in volume of both.

So what now? My next race will be the National Track Championships at the end of January, where I will ride the Scratch, Points and Kilo. Working with LCA closely on the track has been a big benefit already, so I hope to be able to put in strong performances in all 3 of the races.

I’d also like to thank Pedal Potential for continuing to support me into 2023. Their support makes a huge difference to myself and many others.

See you on the road! (Or track)

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