Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Highlights of 2013

It's the final day of 2013 and very briefly, as many people do, I would like to go over the highlights of my year. These are all personal to me (obviously) but all have great meaning in their own right. They are in no particular order also, as it would be too difficult to rank them!

First and foremost, 2013 will be remembered by me as the year I "bounced back". 2012 ended on a disappointing note and it was critical for my future in Paracycling that I come back stronger in 2013 and prove that I was still able to compete at the highest level. Which I did! 

How did I bounce back? Well, that has been well documented. But the proof was things like:

  • Winning the RTTC National Paracycling Time Trial Series in the UK. Again.
  • Winning 3 World Cup Time Trial Medals.
  • Winning the overall World Cup Title for the first time.
  • Winning my first ever Irish National Paracycling Time Trial title.
  • And... winning a bronze medal in the Paracycling World Championships.

All these things feature on my list of highlight for the year. But in addition to this, I also had the pleasure and honour of supporting a couple of charities in 2013. First up, I got to spend a few days with and ride with Dan Martin in the Cycle 4 Life charity ride in Ireland in support of the Temple Street Children's Hospital. And it's a cause I look forward to supporting again in 2014.

I also had the extreme honour of leading a team of riders, representing the Anne Frank Trust, in the Cosavli Trois Etapes event in the French Alps. Pushing myself and my riders to the limit to help raise serious money for a great cause is something I will never forget.

To cap off my list, there are 2 more things I would like to mention. First was to be featured in Cycling Weekly with a 4-page spread. Great photos and a great interview. Really nice to get some good exposure.

And the last (and most recent) was to be asked to go to the 3T Cycling offices in Italy to give a motivational talk to the staff there. 3T have been a faithful sponsor of mine and it was a real thrill for me to give my first ever 'public' talk to their staff.

The year ended on a bit of a down note with illness and injury and I'm still (slowly) recovering, but 2014 should bring more great challenges and hopefully successes! The Track Cycling World Championships are in just a few months (April 10) and I have a LOT of work to do to get ready. But if my past is any indication... I'll be ready.

Thanks all for your support in 2013 and I look forward to sharing 2014 with you.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

An Open Letter to the UCI on Paracycling

Dear UCI, on behalf of Paracycling riders everywhere in the world, I am writing this open letter. It is my hope that someone will read it and be able to respond.

First of all, I want to publicly thank all the people that support Paracycling, from the grass roots volunteers, to the race organisers, to National Federations and even those at the UCI that work on our behalf. The work that all of you do is not unnoticed and is greatly appreciated.

However, it has to be said that there is a HUGE gap in the level of support that Paracycling gets from the UCI, especially in relation to all the other disciplines under the UCI umbrella. This is surprising, given that the UCI took over control of Paracycling from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in 2007, stating at the time: "The UCI is fully committed to the development of para-cycling and we will provide all of the necessary resources in the years to come."

At the present time we feel this pledge is not being met. There are a serious lack of international race events and in particular, the fact that there has not been a major Track Cycling event once London 2012 is unacceptable. No Track World Championships in 2013, and currently none scheduled for 2014. For those Paracycling athletes that concentrate primarily on track events (and even those that ride both the road and the track), this represents a giant black hole for competition opportunities.

There have been rumours of a Track Cycling World Championships in either March or November 2014, but the longer the uncertainty drags on, the harder it is for athletes to plan their winter training and race schedules for 2014. If the men's or women's Track (or Road) World Championships faced this level of uncertainty or apathy, there would be uproar in the cycling community. But in Paracycing it seems to be the status quo.

We realise that many of the issues surrounding hosting events comes down to money. However, I am calling upon the UCI to reassess their financial requirements for race organisers in the next few years, waving fees if necessary, in order to help fulfil their promise and grow the sport as is needed. London 2012 should have shown the level of support that is available from the fans, given the chance.

There are a wide range of issue in Paracycling that we would like to address but we lack the opportunity. The latest Athletes Commission meeting was shelved and our representative is now unable to pass along any of our comments. We are left to talk amongst ourselves as our frustration grows. The total lack of communication from the UCI regarding events is incredibly upsetting.

So I write this publicly to highlight the most pressing issues. And hope that not only the public will see it, but also the powers that be at the UCI.

I welcome the chance to discuss any and all of these issues with a representative of the UCI at any time. I would gladly hop on a plane to Aigle if I thought the UCI was open to making changes. There are many more people out there like me in the Paracycling community that would do the same.

We hope that we will be heard.

Thank you for your time,
Colin Lynch

What's been happening? Season-end update...

Wow, it's been a long time! Decided to focus more on riding and less on writing. But have some downtime now so decided it would be worthwhile to write an update and wrap up my season.

Since I last posted the final major competitions of the year came and went. I flew myself out to Canada to do my final training block and prepare for the last 2 big races - the final World Cup and the World Championships. They were both in Quebec - on opposite sides of the St. Lawrence River and a week apart. Very convenient!

First up was the World Cup. It took place in a town called Matane. A nice little town and we were welcomed warmly. In fact, I have to say - overall - it was the best World Cup I have ever been to. The course was fairly easy in terms of hills, but lots of technical corners to navigate, including one at the bottom of a VERY steep hill (40mph into a 90 degree turn!).

The really nice thing though - was that virtually every bit of the course had been resurfaced recently. Not only that, but after training sessions on the circuit (and before the racing began), they actually went out and filled in some of the potholes and smoothed out dips in the corners to make it safer.

For me it was not only a final tune-up for the World's - but also the chance to win the overall World Cup Series. Going into the race I was trailing the leader by 4 points. I would need a good result in the TT and then try to hang on in the road race to get the points I needed.

Things went well in the TT. I put in a solid ride to secure 2nd place – heated once again by the dominant new American rider Aaron Keith (and this despite him crashing, getting back up and finishing the race. Much respect.) However, happy to be on the TT podium in every World Cup event this year!

This gave me a 2 point lead in the standings. It meant I would have to finish within 1 spot of the Czech rider who was leading going into the World Cup in order to secure the title. Which was going to be difficult given his great road racing skills. 2 years ago I went to Canada as the World Cup leader, only to lose the title on the last day. I did not want a repeat of this.

The road race also featured a new change – for the first time the men's C1 and C2 riders would race with the women C4 and C5 riders (instead of with the men's C3 riders). It was an experiment to see if it would make a more balanced peleton in terms of ability. And it was brilliant! Not only nice to have some new faces and great riders in our group, but it did indeed make for more balanced racing.

I rode a very tactical race – shadowing the rider I needed to finish closely to. Time after time he tried to get away but I just sat on his wheel as much as I could. There were sections of the course where I struggled to keep up, but dug deep and hung in there.

As we came into the final few turns of the race, I was too far back in the bunch and feared I had missed my chance - until up ahead I saw my man. He was struggling a bit and had also dropped back. I accelerated to catch up, wildly looking around for any other riders in our category to make sure no one would scupper my efforts to finish within one spot of him.

As we raced to wards the finish line, I could see another C2 rider coming alongside me. At the last second I lunged for the finish line and threw my bike across. The rider I was chasing had finished ahead go me, but I had managed to beat the other C2 rider by a wheel (probably more like a tyre!). That meant I had finished within the 1 spot I needed to and had done it! I had won the World Cup title! That was a HUGE win for me and was immensely proud to collect the trophy and leader's jersey. The only downside to winning on the last day is that you never get to compete in the leader's jersey, but it will go nicely on the wall with my other winning jerseys!

So, after that it was a quick ferry ride and on to the World Championships. I had spent a LOT of time training on the course and getting ready for the race. I was focussed and in good shape. I'll keep it brief...

It was wet on the day of the time trial. This made things complicated as the course was very technical with a lot of high-speed, tight corners. The wet road meant that I couldn't take them at full speed and would have to slow for each and the accelerate again afterwards. Not my strength!

I rode a solid race – the best I could. At the end I was beaten once again by the American, but also by the Spanish rider. But – a happy enough Bronze medal put my back on the World Championship podium. It was a hard-fought race and a course that did not suit my abilities (very hilly), so I was happy to get that medal.

The last event was the road race – once again with a massive hill in it. However, I was in much better shape and much lighter than the last time I had raced the course so was expecting to do much better this time around. And.... it was a disaster. I made the massive error of lining up at the back of the pack at the start line. Once the race started I briefly got held up by a slower rider - but that was enough for the main group to get away from me. I naively didn't chase hard enough, thinking I was catch them up, but it was not to be. They were gone and my race was all but over.

I spent the rest of the day picking off riders one by one. My group grew and grew and with the help of another American rider, Matt Bigos, we effectively dragged the group around the circuit. One good thing was I was actually able to climb the hill just as fast as one one else in my group. In years gone past I was dropped. It was also frustrating though as I felt that had I been with the main pack, I would have been able to hang in there all race.

In the end, I led the pack towards the finish line and 7 other riders in my category sprinted past me to the line. I finished in a less-than-glamourous 15th place. I headed back to the pits and attempted to destroy my bike and my helmet in frustration. Just angry at myself for the schoolboy error. But that's racing for you.

I returned to the UK to wrap up my season with a couple of final National Series TT events - winning both and securing the National (Disability) title for the second year in a row. Another nice little line item for the palmares!

After that, it was time to start training for the 2014 season. We have big plans for the coming year and with a new coach on board, will be trying new things, new equipment and going to new heights. First up was a 3-week trip to Girona to start the base training.

Things didn't really go according the plan there. For starters, the place is beautiful. The roads are great and quiet, people friendly, the weather warm - but there wasn't much in the way of flat roads! I spent most of my time either going up or down (or on constantly rolling roads). It was great for riding and my general mental health, but not great for the type of training I was supposed to be doing! Nevertheless, it was an amazing trip and not only did I get to ride with Dan Martin's Dad Neil, but also met a nice local guy (who I chased down one day when he passed me in full Irish race kit), who showed me some of the great local climbs.

The downside of the trip was the injury I picked up while there. A bad skin infection means I am now off my bike for several weeks while it heals up. I am going out of my mind as I am desperate to get back to training, especially with a track race coming up at the end of this month! But I have to let it heal or my entire 2014 season could be jeopardised. Such is life sometimes.

So - that is about it for now! I am currently taking care of the business side of things- working to secure equipment and sponsors for 2014. I have feeling it will be the best year of my career to date, so a great time for folks to jump on board! And I hope to try and update this blog a bit more regularly now. Thanks all!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Riding up mountains to Challenge Prejudice and Reduce Hatred.

At the end of last year I received a message on Twitter wishing me a happy birthday from the folks at Cosaveli with a request to get in touch to discuss a project. Always keen to explore new avenues, I gave them a call to see what was up. and my next big adventure began...

Cosaveli ( are an Events company dedicated to creating extraordinary cycling experiences and raising massive amounts of money for charity. As a keen cyclist (obviously), the chance to participate in one of their events was a no-brainer, especially as their philosophy fit in perfectly with one of my stated aims for 2013: to help out with some charitable endeavours. I may come to regret the choice of event... but I suspect it will be a life-changing experience that I will remember for many years to come.

In July of this year I will be participating in the Trois √Čtapes ( The Trois Etapes is the ultimate competitive Pro-Am cycling experience. The event is designed to give riders the chance to experience team cycling under race conditions, with the full support that a pro would have in a Grand Tour. The event is designed to incentivise tactical team riding. Each team of 8 riders (7 amateurs and 1 pro) has its own team car and Directeur Sportif. Every rider has a radio link with their team car and the Race Director.

The 2013 edition of the Trois Etapes will see 15 teams compete over four days (26-29 July) over a flat Prologue and three mountain stages whilst raising crucial funds for charities worldwide. And I... am the 'Pro' rider that is leading the team for The Anne Frank Trust (more to come on them shortly).

On the surface, it would seem like a poor choice of event for me. I mean... I can't climb, so why try and lead a team up riders up the Alps? Well, because I want to prove that I CAN climb. And that a guy with one leg is just as capable as riding as anyone else! The fact that the first day features a Prologue time trial in no way influenced my decision to come and show off my skills. (OK, it did. A lot actually!).

The event takes place about a month before my World Championships (coincidentally on an extremely hilly course in Canada) so I'll be using this event to try and hone my climbing skills. But it will be an honour and a privilege to help my team of riders up the climbs. Many of them are novice cyclists who will genuinely benefit from my experience and encouragement. (I'm hoping that there will be at least a few really good riders also that can head up the road to set a good time for our team!). The event is being film for Eurosport and Channel 4 also, so a great opportunity to get a little TV time.

So, that's the background on the event... but how about the more important aspect: the charity I'm riding for! When they asked me to lead the team for the Anne Frank Trust and I found out about their values, I knew it was a perfect fit. So who are the Anne Frank Trust?

The Anne Frank Trust ( is named after Anne Frank, made famous by her diary, detailing her life during the time she hid from the Nazis in hidden rooms in her house in Amsterdam during the German occupation of the Netherlands. The stated aims of the Trust are "To challenge prejudice and reduce hatred by drawing on the power of Anne Frank's life and diary. To use that power to encourage people to embrace positive attitudes, personal responsibility, and respect for others."

After Anne's death in 1945, her father found and published her diary in order to help challenge the hatred that had killed his daughters.  With Anne's life and inspirational message as their anchor, the Anne Frank Trust works in schools, prisons and communities, educating people about the damage caused by all forms of prejudice and discrimination, and empowering each individual to take a stand against it.

Just a few hard facts I'd like to share...

A hate crime is an offence motivated by hostility based on disability, race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation.
• 11 out of every 1,000 crimes is a hate crime (Home Office 2012)
• 43,748 hate crimes were recorded in 2011-12 (Home Office 2012) 

• 64% of Britons feel less positive towards at least one minority group (Stonewall 2012) 
• 90% of teachers say their pupils have experienced homophobic bullying (Stonewall 2012) 
• 47% of Britons see Muslims as a threat (ESRC/ISER) 
• 8% increase in race crime in Scotland reported in 2011-12 (BBC News 2012)
• 29% rise in religiously motivated crime in Scotland reported in 2011-12 (BBC News 2012)
• 586 anti-Semitic incidents were logged by the Community Security Trust in 2011(Brin 2012)

As an athlete and person living with a disability, I'm no stranger to mild forms of prejudice. There are people out there that look down on me and my accomplishments and treat the Paralympic movement as some sort of pity exercise. I often find myself striving to try and change perceptions and overcome people's ideas of what is possible for people who are less-abled. My problems are minor in comparison to the hate and discrimination that many others face though. If my riding up giant mountains in France can somehow help lesson the burden that these people face, then it is my privilege to help out.

The event itself will no doubt push me to my limits. I'll be going up against other current and former Pro riders such as Tour winner Carlos Sastre, Songezo Jim, Evie Stevens, Jason White, Thorsten Wilheims, Craig Lewis, Adreas Klier, Daniel Lloyd, Mark Beaumont and Annie Simpson. Some teams and riders will be looking to win whilst others just to finish. After seeing some of the course profiles... I might just be happy to finish!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Mid-Season Review. This time with more hardware.

The saga continues...

This year, less writing and more riding. And the results are starting to show up because of it. I've chosen to focus less on my blog, and spend more time training. Although I'm still regularly found tweeting nonsense on Twitter!

But I'm back here again briefly to update everyone on how the season is going so far. And the news is good. When I last posted I was still struggling to get my TT bike set-up correctly. This has now been resolved and I find myself going faster than before and am much more comfortable than at the start of the season. This is due to the work of my coach and his partner - Ric Stern and Xavier Disley of RST Sports. Not only can I now ride the bike, but I'm much more aero than before. A win-win situation.

I've just returned from 3 weeks on the road. First up was back-to-back World Cup competitions in Italy and Spain. These are the first international races I've done since the Games in London. Crucial for determining where my form is in relation to the competition. And to see how much more work needs to be done to achieve my goal of winning the World's in September.

So... first up was Italy. Tucked away in the north-east corner of the country, nearly on the border of Austria was the little towns of Marlengo and Merano. More Austrian than Italian (possibly because it used to be part of Austria), it is located on the doorstep of the Dolomite mountains. Beautiful scenery and warm temperatures were in abundance.

The time trial was far from traditional. The course snaked it's way through an olive orchard (on paved farming roads), cutting left and right at 90° angles with great frequency before re-joining the main road. At one point we were even routed through a local garden centre car park en route to completing the second lap! And to finish it off – 1km almost straight up. A 15% climb to the finish line made it less of a time trial and more of a hill climb competition!

Climbing, especially on a TT bike, is not my strong suit. The goal for me in the TT was to try and make some time on the flat sections and limit my losses on the climb. I hoped to finish in the top 5, within 30 seconds of the leaders. After blasting my way around the course and pushing myself up the massive incline, I crossed the finish line in first place. This wasn't a huge surprise as I was only the 5th rider to start, with the riders before me being less-experienced than me. But as I sat there at the finish line, watching the leader board as each following rider came across the line, what WAS a surprise was that none of them were faster than me. FInally, one rider managed to beat my time (by a hefty margin). But that was it. None of the other riders beat me, leaving me with the silver medal.

All the riders that had beat me in London (and all of last year) were behind me. The only rider to beat me was a new rider from the USA. I had never competed against him before – and so went to introduce myself to him. Aaron was a true gent. He was genuinely pleased to meet me and a really nice guy to talk to. I hate it when your competition turns out to be so nice!  I could tell that he is definitely the guy to beat this year and without a doubt the toughest opponent I have faced. 

The next day we were off in the road race. This was a mostly flat but very technical circuit of the city streets of Merano. Constantly throwing yourself in and out of tight corners made passing very difficult. There was an uphill drag towards the finish as well to sap your energy before making the final turn into the start-finish straight which was all cobbled. You really had to be on top of your bike-handling skills for this one.

Lap after lap we blasted away. It felt like the race never let up. I was constantly battling to stay up with the lead group which I managed for most of the race. I also (thankfully) managed to avoid all the crashes – usually in the tight corners. In the end, I was overtaken on the final drag towards the finish but managed a very respectable 5th place. The American Aaron, who had beaten me convincingly in the TT, crashed into the barriers on the final corner – most likely on his way to winning the race. Last I heard, he had a broken wrist which will hamper his preparations for the World's a little, but I have no doubt that he will be there in fine form and will be on that podium with me. I just hope I'm on the top step!

That was it for Italy. We packed up and moved on to Spain. A familiar location as this would be my 4th year of racing there. This time there was the added bonus of having my parents and my girlfriend join me to see me race. Unlike previous years, this year would feature a new time trial course. And it was a course that suited me perfectly. Mostly flat, very little to deal with technically and good roads. I was definitely looking forward to this one!

Race day came and it was blisteringly hot. And while the course was flat, there was wind to contend with. It was a short route of about 5.5km in each direction – and we had to do 2 laps of it (22km in total). The key to doing well is good pacing – don't go too hard on the first lap and leave nothing in the tank for the second lap.

I executed the plan to perfection. Rolled down the start ramp and eased into my ride gently. Out on the open road I kept a watchful eye on my power readings and made sure not to push myself too hard, too soon. As I returned through the start-finish area at the end of lap 1, there were loads of people waving at me to slow down, which was odd I thought, as I was in the middle of a race! I sat up and eased my way past and started lap 2. I managed to catch and pass at least 2 riders, so was pretty sure I was having a good ride. Nevertheless, I keep to steady all the way.

After crossing the finish line it ended up taking a while to get official results. But finally the word came in: I had won! By a slender 2 seconds but a win nonetheless. It turns out the entire start-finish area had blown down shortly before I came through and they were telling me to slow down as the workers were actually holding it up, so we could ride underneath! I hadn't noticed - but it had cost me some time. 3rd place was 50 seconds back, so it had been a 2-horse race.

The road race was a disaster. 5 laps of a long, open course, that ended each time on a 750m, 7% COBBLED climb. The cobbles make it extremely difficult to get out of the saddle to pedal, so you have to sit and push up the hill. The worst possible scenario for me. On lap 2, I made a mistake at the top of the climb, lost the wheel of the person I was following and got dropped. I spent the entire next lap trying to catch up, but once out on the open section of the course – you were into a headwind and it was near impossible to make up any ground on your own. I battled on by myself for the rest (majority) of the race, eventually crossing the finish line in 10th place. This was important as it scored me valuable World Cup points. I now sit comfortably in 2nd place overall and with just one more round to go (in Canada, the week before the World Championships), there is a good chance I can still win the overall title.

And lastly, it was off to Ireland this past weekend for the National Championships. The time trial was held on Thursday night on a 40km-long course. Much longer than I normally race, but the course was (again) fairly flat and vast stretches of straight road. Wind was a huge factor here, and surviving the poor road surface would also be an issue.

I put in a decent ride. The only real hiccup was at about 4km from the finish when I lost my chain. I spent the next 30 seconds trying to get it back on, eventually having to stop the bike and put it back on with my hands! It cost me valuable time and a fair amount of stress. But in the end it didn't matter. I crossed the line only 11 seconds behind teammate Cathal Miller. But because he's in a much higher category than me (C5 vs C2), we use a factoring system to 'even out' the times. With the facored time I won by a healthy margin. Teammate Enda Smyth took up the 3rd step of the podium with an excellent ride of his own. If I hadn't lost my chain, I should have managed to set the fastest time straight up. But that's racing. Proud to add a National title to my palmares.

On the Saturday, I decided to try and race in the Vets (over-40) National Road Race Championships. This proved to be a HUGE mistake. I didn't even last 1 lap. And got dropped on the fast DOWNHILL part of the course of all places! 40mph - and I couldn't keep up. These guys are crazy-strong. But I've always said that road racing isn't my strong suit, especially against the best able-bodied Vets in the country.

So that's it! A good start to the season, followed by an even better middle section. But a massive amount of work to do to get ready for the World Championships now. No letting up!

I want to take this opportunity to once again thank to key sponsors that have supported me this year. I have had several equipment failures/breakages/issues that have been sorted out quickly thanks to the 2 main suppliers, and a few others have just been there to help keep me going!

So to Madison UK - thanks for the Cervelo P5 and Shimano parts (and most of all for sorting out the mech hanger when I was stuck for one in Spain), to Fisher Outdoor for sorting out my Look Pedals and fixing my broken Zipp wheel in a rush, and to the continued support of ZipVit (nutritional supplements and vitamins) and 3T (bars, stems, Aero Bars and wheels). You guys make winning possible!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Early Season Review

Wow. It's been a while, huh? Yes - I've been neglecting my blog for quite some time. Why? Well, because I've been focussing on the important things so far this year! Training, racing and attempting to promote those that I'm working with this year.

I'm on a bit of a break this week (first one since October/November) and thought it would be a good time to catch up on what's been happening so far this season.

So, when we last left off I was still in the heart of my winter training. Multiple trips to Majorca and a new coach put me in good shape going into the start of the season. Power is up and weight was down so was looking forward to getting on the TT bike to see what I could do. There a few early-season TTs I do every year to test my form in relation to previous years. Unfortunately, due to roadworks, these events had to be moved to different courses meaning I was unable to do a like-for-like comparison on the same courses.

Nevertheless, I went out there determined to put in some solid times. And that I did! I found I was beating people that I've never come close to in previous years. All good signs! These events were followed up by the start of the Club 10 TT season. I've been doing these for several years, week in and week out, so I have loads of data to compare. I can tell my relative form from my times and power outputs.

And more good news. I have started this year about a minute faster than last year! That is a huge margin. Not only that, but last week I actually won the Club 10 for the first time... ever. And tonight I'll be heading out to the course, rested and ready to see if I can beat my best-ever time on it! Which will be tough given that it's only April and my PB was set in the warmth of July!

This past weekend I also had the chance to participate again in the National Paracycling Time Trial Series (formerly the Rudy Project). Unlike previous years, there are a LOT more entries, making winning events much harder. The quality of the field is growing along with the numbers. A good sign for events to come.

The first event was actually cancelled due to weather conditions (snow), so this was 'round 2'. Was held on a course that I had won on before so was looking forward to racing there again. A couple of GB Paralympic athletes in the field also meant I would have my work cut out for me to get a win. But win... I did. I was beaten by 1 second by one of the GB riders, but with the factoring system I easily took the win. One of my main competition suffered a flat, so not sure how I would have fared against him, but I'm sure there will be many more battles to come!

This coming weekend I have break from the TT scene and will get out on the road bike for my second road race of the year. It's not something I'm focussing on this year, but it's important to keep my toe in the water. When it comes to World Cups and World Championships, I still have to do the road races so important to keep those skills!

Next weekend I will be heading to Ireland (at last) to participate in the Cycle4Life charity ride with Dan Martin. And given his recent successes, it should be a fantastic day out! (In case you're reading this and haven't already sponsored me - a fiver or more would not go unnoticed. The money isn't for me - it's ALL for the charity: Any help is greatly appreciated.

Lastly, I'll be off tomorrow to finally get my TT bike set-up correctly and do some aero testing. Despite putting in some fast times this year, I'm still struggling to get comfortable and get all my power out - so hopefully this should help solve that problem!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope to have some updates on a slightly more regular basis now!

Monday, 4 February 2013

This one is for the kids

It's not often I get a chance to make a difference in someone else's life and give something back, but that's exactly what I want to do in 2013. I am going to be supporting a few key events and am hoping that you (the cycling public) will get behind me and these events.

First up is for the folks in Ireland. On May 4, I will be participating in the Cycle4Life ride in aid of the Temple Street Children's University Hospital. To the people of Ireland – this is YOUR chance to come out and not only ride with me, but also support a GREAT cause!!

Details on the events can be found here: but the rundown is as follows: there are 3 routes to choose from – 5km, 63km and 147km (the start point is close to Dunboyne outside of Dublin). I'm doing the long route (and it's not for novices) but I'll be around at the start and finish to try and meet as many people as possible. There's also a bit of a Gala Dinner afterwards and I'll be hoping to see you all there!

Being a member of the Paralympic team, it was a bit of a no-brainer that I support a charity that helps sick kids. Last year, Cycle4Life raised over €125,000 for the Temple Street Children's Hospital and we'd like to significantly beat that amount this year!

If you can't ride, you can volunteer some time or even just donate a few pennies to the cause. 100% of donations go to the charity.

So, save the date on your calendars and register for the ride. It's not a race – but I'm sure many of us will be out there riding hard! I really hope that as many of you as possible will come out and join me in supporting this very worthy cause – and get some great miles (or kilometers) in on the bike! If you're a cyclist, you'll appreciate that actually doing a good ride that benefits a charity is far better than merely donating money to the cause!

I've been working hard this winter getting my fitness up and ready for the race season ahead. Why not come out and test yourself against me on a challenging day out? If I leave you behind, it's OK... you can say you got beat by a World Champion! (But if you beat me, I'm going to use the "I've only got one leg" excuse!) In all seriousness - it should a FUN day out for everyone no matter how fast or slowly you do the ride. Remember – it's for the kids!!!

If you can't ride but would still like to sponsor me in this event, I'd love a bit of support. Even €5 would go a long way to help!

Follow this link to sponsor me: 

Monday, 7 January 2013

Buy Global. Act local.

It's the modern age. The internet rules the world. You can shop safely for pretty much anything these days from the comfort of your sofa. I am a self-confessed shopaholic when it comes to bike stuff – always looking for a bargain or a new piece of equipment that will help me go faster. It's addictive. It might explain my 700+ positive feedbacks on eBay (mostly from buying!) and my Platinum membership status at Wiggle.

Shopping online for bike parts is easy for me. I usually know what I want and the internet makes it easy to quickly shop around for the best price. No one source always offers the best price so I spread my purchases out across a wide variety of retailers. The process gets harder when you get to big-ticket items (like frames) as there is less differences in prices sometimes. Even with all the various sponsors I have, I still end up having to buy quite a bit of kit.

Initially it was an online search that lead me to Global Bikes ( I was in search of a new time trial frame and they had what I was after. Global aren't in the typical list of your 'big' online bike shops (like CRC, Wiggle, Evans, etc) so I hadn't heard of them. But I sent them an email nevertheless and our relationship began.

I asked if they would be interested in 'sponsoring' me - with a deal on the frame I was after. They politely replied that (like many bike shops) they get loads of these types of requests. They don't normally agree to help, especially as the requests come from people that are at the other end of the country and/or once they get what they want are never heard from again. However, after looking into my background and also seeing that I was somewhat local to them (they are based near Chester), they agreed to help me out.

It was a simple thing – they got me the frame I was after (my Felt DA TT bike) at a fair price. It wasn't free but they managed to get the supplier to drop the price a bit. It was a great help to me. When it was delivered to the shop, I drove over to collect in person. I met their main man, Jim and it was a pleasure. I paid and left with my bike. That could have been the end of it. But true to my promise, I kept in touch with them.

I ended up winning my TT World Title on that bike. Without the bike I can't say for sure I would have won. It was a close margin of victory (12 seconds) and I needed every advantage. I am grateful to them for the help! A few months later, I met up with Jim again at a bike show in Birmingham - and he introduced me to the main Felt rep for Europe. Once again, I was able to upgrade my equipment for the following race season. I got a new bike (again at a reduced cost) that took me to London. 

Furthermore, when I was preparing my road bike to race in London, I took it into Global to have a custom build done. Dave in the shop spent a considerable amount of time wiring up my Cervelo S3 with Di2 parts – not a simple task as that particular bike was not designed for it! I'm still using the bike and it works like a dream.

Lastly, and most recently, the folks at Global invited me to join them at the Velodrome in Manchester to watch the track racing (Revolution) with them. It was nice to get out with the whole gang and enjoy watching bikes - something we all love!

If I had simply ordered a bike frame online and gone for the cheapest price, I may never have met the folks at Global. I wouldn't have experienced the top-notch customer service they offer and wouldn't have made new friends. My point is that sometimes... it pays to go to your local bike shop. Price isn't always the deciding factor – sometimes people and service matter more. And you may find yourself surprised at what you can get when you deal face-to-face instead of simply across a keyboard.

So – even if you can't visit Global in person, it's worth checking out their website! Especially if in the market for a new bike. The offer some really great deals. And I look forward to the next time I can drop into the shop. We have some plans for a new build for 2013!