Sunday, July 25, 2021
HomeBlogsTavira Pro Tomás Swift-Metcalf's BlogTomás Swift-Metcalf Blog - Storm Damage

Tomás Swift-Metcalf Blog – Storm Damage


I haven’t written an update on the Tomás Swift-Metcalf Blog since the penultimate stage of the Volta a Portugal. I have been wary of writing bullshit in such stressful, emotional times. I don’t like to speak of the problems in cycling, since I find them so boring. It’s the first thing anyone outside the sport mentions when I say I’m a cyclist.

The Armstrong fiasco affected me quite a bit.

I was one of those kids that took to the roads because of the Armstrong myth. My mum, Kate Swift, died of cancer when I was 19 during my first year at university.

Armstrong was a huge motivation for her and I, or at least gave us reason for optimism. That winter I watched my first bike race too: the Volta ao Algarve; won by Floyd Landis.

When Kate died in 2004 I didn’t deal with it very well. It took ages to get over it… years, in fact. I would run at odd times of day, like late at night round Loughborough and up to Beacon Hill and round the woods, always fast. The lactic burn was kind of a relief from something. It was a this time that I took to cycling on a Giant OCR I had bought after a summer’s work, because I found road bikes attractive looking.

Armstrong getting busted depressed me. It was not justice given all the bullshit and corruption in this world. The reams of blind hypocrisy since the Armstrong fiasco have been nauseating. I am so sick and tired of people cheating everywhere.

I asked a few pros if they would support a ‘doping league’. A doping league where you make sure to promote and protect health; i.e. the investment in dope control is channelled into health control, but otherwise athlete can use verified methods to boost up to certain thresholds.

The argument that the rich would take advantage in such a scenario is muted the law of diminishing returns; there is only a very limited number of things you can do to boost performance. Unfortunately the current system rewards the wrong types of ingenuity: control and subversion.

I can’t help being disturbed by the fact that anti-doping has grown into a multi-million dollar industry in symbiosis with doping. Those pros thought I was joking, but even so fundamentally disagreed with the idea of ‘doping league’. A system that was harder to cheat would be my priority. I find cheating repulsive.

My mother left quite a few works of art, to me, my brother and my father, mostly oil paintings.

I went through a process of organising these works for a long term exhibition in Lagoa, the main town in the county I live in.

A lot of these were damaged and the fact that I was the only person giving a shit about these works hurt me. Because of the weight of emotional investment in the situation I found it very, very hard. But hopefully, one day they will be exhibited in a dignified setting here in Lagoa.

People need to be told what’s good when it comes to art and the art world are sold on fads, but these works are genuinely excellent and it will be worth the anguish I’ve gone through cataloguing and looking after them as best I can, when they are eventually displayed and people can enjoy them.

Tomás Swift-Metcalf Blog
A painting by Kate Swift, “Brian and Tomas at Alvito”.

I was really stressed around the time of my birthday. There was a number of factors: being broke; being stressed – the business wasn’t working well enough to look after itself yet; my granny being poorly; sorting through the damaged paintings and having no contract sorted for 2013.

And I had this notion, “the Jimi Hendrix threshold”.

This notion was that, if your going to be good at anything, do anything in your life, you’ve got till you 27 years old. Jimi died when he was 27 and look what he did.

I was broke, living back in the family home and depressed; I hadn’t done anything in my 27 years, I had raced a bike, risking my life for peanuts, battling from out of a coma in 2006,  and for what?

Anyway, I chose not to celebrate passing the Jimi Hendrix threshold, but my family got together regardless, which made me feel even worse. It was a really dark time…

My granny died just three days after my 28th birthday.

She suffered a massive stroke the following day. Before she left she was telling a joke to my girlfriend – she always said jokes. It went “She’s a small girl, she’s a round girl, she’s a…something…girl, who’s that girl?” We never heard the punch line. It was so taxing watching her die, I was there right to the bitter end, optimistic she might recover.

A tornado hit my home region.

It passed within 500m of my house. Luckily the roof stayed on the house, but many others were less fortunate. I’m organising a charity cycle for the people affected next weekend.

I reckon I’d like the help if the roof got ripped off my house, or my car was slammed into a wall.

Tomás Swift-Metcalf Blog
Damage from the tornado.

I’m coaching and organising training camps and really enjoying it. I always dreaded coaching – my first coach in athletics had said “those that can, do. Those that can’t, coach”, and proudly spoke about how bad he’d been as an athlete (his p.b. was 1:52 for 800m, so not bad at all..), but that sort of self deprecating humour kind of struck a cord ‘Shit, I must be good or else!’ I thought.

But coaching has definitely become a passion since I started helping a few under-23’s and a couple of friends – and found I was very good at it. It’s incredible to watch people improve beyond their own expectations.

I’m not sure what will happen in the New Year. I’m training like I am going to race, but there is no certainty. If anyone wants to sponsor the team, or have me on your team, get it touch.

Cheers, Tomás.

Related Articles

The VV View: Chris Froome, Vik’s Pressies and the Giro in Israel?

We hope you enjoyed our series of interviews with Scotland’s medal prospects for The Gold Coast – we certainly enjoyed speaking to such talented and highly motivated young men and women. But let’s not got too cocky...

Jörg Jaksche – “If you get caught, keep schtum”; Interview Part I

Jörg Jaksche is an interesting man to talk to; a top rider in his day - until he was one of the relatively few actually punished as a result of being implicated in Operatión Puerto. But unlike most, Jaksche didn’t, ‘deny, deny, deny.’ He did the ‘right thing’ and ‘fessed up’ – but the UCI twisted his words and to the teams he was a pariah.

Joe Papp – Still Atoning for His Doping

Joe Papp is one of the very few riders to admit, face up to and openly discuss the fact he failed a drugs test. Like most folks, we're sick of the drugs scandals, but then the Tom Zirbel situation pops up and we to have accept that it's still a problem and we need to understand it better. Here's what Joe had to say - and it's scary!

Lizzie Armitstead’s (Three) Two Strikes for Missed Tests

"She’s at it, they all are! And you know she’s at it!" The reaction of a friend of mine when I explained the basics of the Lizzie Armistead case to him – he’s no right-wing balm pot, on the contrary he’s a working class former international sportsman who’s represented Scotland at the highest level. Perhaps if it hadn’t been for Lance feeling sorry for the doubters; Tyler and his phantom twin; Floyd and all that Jack Daniels; Bert and his steak and all the rest he wouldn’t feel that way?

Toby Moody – Eurosport’s MotoGP Commentator and Huge Cycling Fan

He's best known around the world for his engaging commentary for over 16 years of the MotoGP races, these days for Eurosport, and this year has also been covering the British Touring Car Championship for ITV Sport - but not many of his 'petrolhead' listeners and viewers realise that super-busy Englishman Toby Moody was a racing cyclist in his formative years and remains a huge fan of the sport.

David Walsh – Part 1, “We know what you did Lance. I want to know why”

Chief sports writer for The Sunday Times, Irishman David Walsh is best known in cycling circles for being one of the people who have doggedly sought out the reality of Lance Armstrong's Tour de France victories, not believing the "fairy tale" that defined the American's recovery from cancer and record series of wins in the world's toughest race. The award-winning journalist is the author and co-author of a number of books on the shamed American rider's career and his subsequent fall from grace, the most recent being "Seven Deadly Sins" which Walsh describes as 'more light-hearted' than the others!

At Random

New partnership sees Hope Technology and Lotus Engineering collaborate

World-leading bicycle component manufacturer Hope Technology and internationally recognised automotive consultancy Lotus Engineering have announced an exciting new partnership.

The Volta ao Algarve

So I'm home now after the Volta ao Algarve, which, like always, proved to be very hard. The stages were all mammoth 200k slogs on twisty-turny roads through the hills. The stage finishes were a bit sketchy and the whole thing was topped off by a 35km TT through the hills on bad roads which were wet for the first half of the race.

Brandon McNulty – Stepping up to World Tour with UAE-Team Emirates

Brandon McNulty launched himself into his WorldTour career with top performances in the Tour de San Juan and the Ruta del Sol, and then… Now the 2020 season is on hold. We caught up with Brandon back in the US.

The Scottish Power Renewables Girvan 3 – Day Stage Race

"The Girvan" stage race, based in beautiful Ayrshire and Galloway and held over the Easter weekend, has the reputation of being one of the toughest races in Britain, and it certainly does deserve it. This year the 39th edition is again being run over 3 days and 4 stages, with the 3 road stages taking the riders into wild and remote terrain, most likely in less than ideal weather, which has been deteriorating ominously during the week and with foul conditions including snow predicted to arrive at the weekend, together with over 100 of the UK's top cyclists, it should be an interesting race...

Andreas Müller – “I Could Ride Madisons All Day!”

It's hard to break into the six day circuit; but if there's a local rider with promise or a road star that needs mentoring then there has to be a rider on the circuit to provide hands on guidance. Enter Austria's Andreas Müller. Müller was a member of the German track squad during the last decade with strong results, like silver in the 1999 Moscow World Cup team pursuit; Madison bronze in the Chinese round of the World Cup in 2002 and Madison gold in the Moscow and Sydney rounds of the 2003 World Cup.

John Purser – remembering Motor Paced Champion Roy Cox

Back in 2017 we had the pleasure of interviewing former six time British Motor Paced Champion, Roy Cox who despite his results not actually showing it was one of the best in the world behind the big motors. It escaped our notice that we had lost Roy, he passed away in 2019 but our friend and contributor, John Purser decided that Roy’s passing should not go unnoticed and helped us with a tribute to his friend and club mate.