The beginning : Born in '73 in a town called Hinckley, a town known for clothing & hosiery manufacturing, located in the industrious Midlands (Coventry, Birmingham, Leicester, Northampton) mining towns all over the place you get the picture. Mum, Dad, my sister & I : small family that turned up to any function we put our name to & went to church every Sunday. When I discovered bikes my church changed from a building to the open road & the freedom of riding a bike brought with it. At school I was NOT an academic, but I did make school teams for Football, Rugby, Field Hockey etc. Circa 1986 is when I started racing in 1987 & stayed that way until 1996 after 3 years on the national team, 3 years living & racing in France then trying the domestic scene to finally working out that I did not have what it takes to be a 'pro' but that's a whole different subject.
Motivation to Dress properly : I did not have a set of surviving grandparents, but I did have a Great Uncle (my Uncle Stan) Stan was a Manager in the North Sea Oil & Gas industry in the 60's & lived in Aberdeen Monday to Friday. Stan grew up in a world where he was not allowed to leave the house without 3 things 1) he was clean, 2) his hair was done 3) he looked smart and presentable. He taught me style : blazers, chinos, slacks, shoes, how to hold yourself....how to smoke a cigarette lol & a standard of meeting & greeting folks which we did as a double act every Friday & Saturday nights at the pub or working men clubs! He was my idol as a kid. He passed when I was 12/13 : the pain of his passing I still carry. The anger of his passing, I think is fair to say, I put into life & also racing.
Motivation to Ride :
Freedom - my way to get out & find peace within my soul. Some way of self validation if you will. I was good at riding a bike & loved the competition. In later life this has become more of a self challenge thing....along the lines of 'can I do this'. Success also motivated the will to ride - I loved the speed, loved the banging shoulders at 60 km/h on the velodrome, in the criterium, on the road. Now in my 30's I was given a medical ultimatum : circa 2006/7. Jo had said over a period of time that I was just acting strangely, just different. So I went to my doctors & went through a bunch of tests, carried HR monitors for 24/48/72/96, blood tests that all came together into a report. At this point I need to tell you my mind was set that all this was just bullshit! Like screw you, I am an endurance athlete! SO Jo & my doctor
arranged a meeting & called me to it. Sam was 3 years old at the time. I had no idea Jo & Sam would be there. I walked into his office after work, loved seeing my team there, obviously, then he swung his monitor around & talked to me in numbers. Why? Because he knew I was in Sales & knew that the only way to deliver news to me was to hit me in the head with it! The numbers......1 in 4.......96%........90 minutes in 24 hours.......peak blood pressure 195/175 averaged & normalised for 90 minutes & once in a full 24 hour cycle (normalized BP is 130 / 80 roughly) outside this 90 minute period I was at 'critical' levels of BP. Why? Genetics. Family history : turns out the reason I didn't have grandparents around was heart attacks. The line the doctor told me, that will live with me forever - 'You have 6 months at best to accept BP medication & make life changes or your wife will become a widow & your son will have no dad......unchecked you have +/- 6 months before you have heart failure'.........so I made a deal with Jo & with myself & changed. Dropped coffee, dropped fast food & got on the bike again that ultimately brought me back into the sport I had left, in a very pissed off state, needing to ride in order to stay alive.....literally. You asked about routine, that's why, but the moral is that my medical story brought about a passion to ride again for the love of health and family & being healthy again.
Family & our core values : Jo & I grew up old school. We met when I was home from France & working the bar & nightclub scene to earn money to return to France. That was 1993. We have been together ever since. She was 18 & I was 20 years old. We made a list & planned & worked & made mistakes & loved & laughed & BELIEVED! I am here because Jo did what she did with the doctors. WE are here because we did it together. As a family we love, we laugh & we work hard. Pretty simple things but it has got us where we are now & we are not afraid to dream.
Teams i rode for :
Leicestershire Road Club : Medella Sports wear / Ralph James Catons.
Tunstall Wheelers : Brian Rourke cycles.