As a member of Towy Riders Cycle Club and having ridden alongside a number of club members over the past couple of years I thought I would take this opportunity to share my most recent cycling experience with you. Like many of you I’m a keen cyclist and I absolutely love any opportunity to ride my bike. If I’m not on my bike I’m either thinking about it or talking about it. Having taken up road cycling again 4 years ago I decided in early 2018 to try out our recently resurfaced velodrome at Carmarthen Park. I enjoyed it so much I started to attend the coach led racing sessions with Aled Jones during early 2018. It was a fantastic experience and would strongly recommend you try it. I however decided not to continue after 5 months because I felt I was struggling with some of the close contact cycling due to having poor vision. I explained this to Aled who advised that Welsh cycling were in the process of setting up a Paracycling hub at Carmarthen’s Velodrome and that I would be on a Tandem because of my vision. I have to be honest I wasn’t really sure this was the direction I wanted to go however there was absolutely no reason not to try it. It wasn’t until the end of September 2018 that I was able to start attending these sessions which were run by Becky Peart.
When I first tried the tandem I hadn’t given much thought as to how I was going to approach my first ride. Surly this can’t be any different to riding a conventional bike? It’s got gears brakes, handlebars and pedals, what could be so difficult about this? It wasn’t until I first clipped into my pedals and pushed off from the railings that I realised that this was going to be outside of my comfort zone. After a few persistent sessions I managed to build momentum and enough confidence to try this out on a fixed wheel version. During Mid November 2018 I was encouraged to attend a fixed wheel Paracycling session at the Geraint Thomas National Velodrome of Wales in Newport. This is where I had an opportunity to practice a variety of races such as the flying 200 and the 1 kilometre sprints on the tandem. I continued for a further 3 sessions during the month of December which is when I paired up with pilot called Chris Bennett from Swansea (Pictured above). Chris is a regular Pilot at the velodrome and has plenty of experience in supporting and competing with other cyclists who have since progressed with Welsh & British Cycling in recent years.
After Christmas Chris and the other coaches recommended we should compete in the National Track Championships at the end of January 2019 based on the outcomes demonstrated at Newport.
Just to be clear I have never competed in any cycle race in my life, so my initial thoughts were pretty negative and I felt that I simply did not have the time to prepare myself for such an event having only spent a few hours on the Tandem. Having discussed the event further with Chris he managed to convince me that as a duo we were more than capable achieving a good outcome. So we will be competing in the following events at the end of January 2019;
Fri 25/01/19 – 10:00 Para Cycling 1 Kilometre Tandem Time Trial
Fri 25/01/19 – 18:30 Para Cycling 200m Flying Start Tandem Time Trial
Sat 26/01/19 – 08:30 Para Cycling Pursuit Tandem
I understand that there will be other club members competing during this event and I wish them all the very best in their races and I’m sure that between us we will achieve some fantastic results.