My aim to raise funds to buy a track bike to race in the women's league at the Velodrome and to see how far I can go riding track and make a run at Para-cycling track events.
Getting into cycling
In 2011, I had an accident and I have been left with limited function and limited grip on my right hand. This has meant simple everyday tasks are really difficult, I can't write or hold a pen without support. I have to use the mouse in my left hand. I can't hold my handlebars on my bike I have to lean. I have to adapt most things that previously I took for granted. I also find that balance is an issue for me, and controlling my balance is difficult, you just wobble or get blown over.
To help with rehab, I started cycling, especially as the legs still worked, (!) I wanted to do something that made me feel 'normal'. And I found that in cycling. Cycling makes me feel alive, it makes me feel like I could achieve anything, it gives me such a rush to zoom along the road, or down the slopes at the velodrome.
In 2014 I learnt about paracycling and found that I was allowed due to my limited mobility and not being able to grip the handlebars, or change gears or hold the brakes, to race domestically in the C5 category. I also found out that I was quite good at this in particular time trialling (this is when you race on the road, against the clock and the fastest time wins) and went out to win the British Cycling Para-cycling championships. For this, I used a second hand bike, which was falling to pieces and held together with gaffer tape (I kid you not!) and I was on borrowed wheels. On my second hand bike, I have had my gears and brakes adapted so they are just on my left hand side. I wear a support structure made out of thermoplastic to allow me to lean against the handlebars, it supports all of my right hand.
Also in 2014 I raced my Brompton at the Brompton World Championships, there I finished 12th in the world! In my first time out, I finished 12th, I'm even amazed myself, but it was such a rush and such an amazing experience
This was held over 10 miles round the Goodwood Motor Circuit and with a held start that you had to run to your bike, unfold it and then run to the circuit all before the start of the official timing.
Unfortunately in 2015 my Brompton was stolen, but I am so very proud of my two mega achievements within 2014.
In 2015, I went onto win a Bronze medal at the British Championships for Para-triathlon.
With 21 days notice, I found out that with my limited functional grip and not being able to hold my handlebars or brake with my right hand I could race in the T4 category. So I called on friends again, borrowed a wet suit, was shown how to do transitions, had a few giggles practising this on the village green and on the day survived the coldest of cold water in Wales for the swim, the windiest of windy bike rides, with gusts up to 30mph, which saw other riders be blown off and a relatively nice (!) run at the end.
In 2015 I have also come third, 5 times within able-bodied time trialling, over both 10 mile distances and 25 mile distances. However my biggest difficulty which limits my results is not the lack of function of my right hand, as I have learnt how to lean on the handlebars and control all my gears and brakes with my left hand only, but how I am impacted by the wind in terms of being able to control my balance.
My next steps project
This leads me to my project, I want to continue my passion and success in cycling within an environment, such as the Velodrome (indoor track), that I can control in as there is no wind to have a bigger impact on me, than other riders, and that the racing will be much fairer.
Also within track riding there is no need for brakes, no need for gears, as track bikes don't have these! Therefore I have no need for adaptations other than using my support mechanism to continue to lean rather than hold the handlebars.
I have learnt how to track ride, and have worked my way through the British Cycling development sessions that have been held every month, which have focused on team pursuit, sprint riding and endurance riding, which have been amazing.
I have also worked my way through the stage accreditations, in readiness for racing. I have found that I have been able to hold my own against other women and in fact do particularly well in the sprinting (flying 200m).
I am now ready for a track bike of my own, however this is where I need a little help from my friends please.....
To be able to ride track, I need a 46 or 47cm frame, these are relatively rare due to the lack of small girlies or those with little legs, doing track riding, which means they are always of limited stock and very rarely reduced, I am really looking for help towards getting me a track bike, so that I can race in the women's league (able-bodied) and to try to reach my potential.
I have shown and proved over the past two years that I can be successful, I also know what my limitations are (windy weather) and how I could overcome it.
If you can spare any pennies, I would really appreciate your help.
Thank you in advance and thanks for reading my project story