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Over the past 8 months I have been gradually getting bigger and bigger, slower and slower, not exactly the words you would expect to hear from an elite athlete, except that of course I have an excuse, Baby Storey is hopefully going to make an appearance in the next month or so!
Since the London Games there have been so many opportunities to do different things and one of these for me was being able to be guest editor for a week at Travelzoo.
Returning to training after a major event is usually planned beforehand, but every four years after the Paralympic Games there is a little more leeway and anything up to 3 months out of formal training is acceptable provided you get back on the straight and narrow quickly enough!
As an athlete the period in the run up to and during the Games is the familiar part you operate in for so long. Living and breathing cycling, making sure that every base is covered, making sure that no stone is left unturned so that on race day there can be no doubts that all there is left to do is race to the very best you can.
Following on from my previous blog about how the build up to the Paralympic Games was, I am quite excited to now be able to write about the competition at the Games and share my account of what happened. Well the bits I can remember anyway!
It’s been quite a while since I managed to sit and write a blog and even now I am perched on the edge of a bed in my umpteenth hotel room since the Games ended! The journey has been incredible and so I thought I would wind the clock back a few weeks talk about the last bit of the build up, the Games themselves and then the post Games fun!
Two years ago the Tour of Limousin was my first stage race in women’s professional cycling and I lost 24 minutes in the first stage alone. It was a baptism of fire in the road stages, but I managed to salvage a decent result to finish 13th in the Individual Time Trial stage, but left the race thinking I would never have what it took to get through the challenging roads of the Limousin region.
Escentual For VioRed headed out for the Krasna Lipa tour in the north of Czech Republic with a slightly depleted squad due to illness and injury but with spirits high and legs ready to hit the roads of the race and see whether we could achieve a top ten overall and the odd podium spot on a couple of stages.
It may only have been a couple of weeks since my last blog but the racing has been packed in and the team announcement for London 2012 was finally made after what felt like an eternity of keeping it a secret! There was also time to fit in visits to 2 primary schools, a High School awards night as well as a visit to recce the Brands Hatch course being used for the Paralympic Road Races, see the London 2012 medals being handed over to The Tower of London for safe keeping and squeeze in two of my best performances in a road race!
Since the National Lottery Funded Programme for Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls was launched back in 1996, I have been fortunate to be supported by the Programme ever since. Of course in order to be eligible to receive funding there are strict performance targets that have to be met every year and in my case I have been in the top 2 in the world in at least one event, every year in order to have my membership of the programme continued.
As we fast approach the National Road Race Championships, there was time to put the training and racing from the first half of the season to the test with a double header of Time Trials on two local courses in Cheshire.
The second Saturday of June has, in the last two years anyway, been the traditional date for me to start the John O Groats to Lands End route alongside 600 or so participants sponsored by Deloitte. This year however I was doing an epic journey of a different kind and hoping that my powers of recovery would stand me in good stead for a double header of racing in two of the best UK women’s races of the year.
South Africa has always been on my list of places I wanted to visit, so when the chance to ride Tour of the Freestate came up with Escentual For VioRed, I jumped at the chance to be on the team. Heading out for our team were also Elle Hopkins, Gaby Shaw and Claire Galloway, with Lauren Creamer and Ciara Horne joining EFV for the race. It was a strong squad but all relatively new to stage racing, this being only my 3rd tour.
Monday 21st May 2012, marks an exciting day on the calendar for so many people who are involved with the preparation and delivery of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, however for the athletes the day is like any other with the usual heady mix of training and a bit more training!
Heading to Bedford this year as the defending Champion for the past two editions of the event it was always going to be a tough ask to defend the race again but with a strong team willing to bury themselves for me for the weekend, I knew we would take the race to the rest of the peloton.
On the eve of what is arguably the UK’s biggest women’s race of the season, the Bedford 2 Day, with Sarah Storey the defending champion of the past two editions on the team, looking to make it a clean hat trick , the For VioRed women’s Racing Team is delighted to announce a whole host of new backers and suppliers, helping the team to grow even further and fulfil its potential and ambitions.
If there is one race that is on my calendar every year, it’s the Cheshire Classic, as you can always count on the fantastic Weaver Valley Cycling Club to put on a great event. In fact it was a member of the Weaver Valley Cycling Club that got me riding the track seven years ago, Paul West, and their road race was the first ever Road Race I entered outside of Para-cycling events.
The closer we get to the Games the greater the interest in the athletes bidding for places and of course one of the biggest sources of interest is in the support network around the athletes.
So the story goes; March winds, April showers….. and with the weather this past week it has certainly made up for the unseasonably warm end to March! After an easier week following the big miles of Mallorca, this past week saw me back up to full gas and with a new introduction to training, the use of an altitude chamber courtesy of a brand new facility at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Cheshire Campus in Crewe.
With over 30 hours of training under my belt after our first week in Mallorca, our second week saw us transfer from Alcudia to Santa Maria for the second part of the camp and this gave a slightly different angle for training rides. With my Time Trial bike arriving on the team van, I headed out for several sessions getting back into the TT groove ahead of my first race, and For VioRed racing debut, on Sunday 1st April.