I haven’t written on this blog for a while. The reason for this was that I was kind of getting tired of whining on about bad luck, hard times and other problems. No one wants to read that and no one cares. So I decided to keep calm and hang tight till good news come along. Writes Tomás Swift-Metcalfe.
The good news that has come my way is that after an incredibly tough three years suddenly I have some breathing space regarding ‘making a life’, as well as my future as a cyclist.
The good news
The main bit of good news is that my team, which I’ve been with for seven years (there isn’t that much interest in career domestiques from other teams) has found a new sponsor. So at least this year I don’t need to worry when my next pay check is coming.
The sponsor is ‘Banco BIC’, an Angolan bank that’s establishing itself in several foreign markets including Portugal and China. I haven’t asked, as I like to just take things as I see them, but I’ve got a hunch the project aims to be a lot bigger than just a Continental team in Portugal. I’ve been told that I’m part of the core, but again, I’m not going to get ahead of myself; I’ll believe it when I see it.
I had a ‘nose job’ done in late April
By that I mean a procedure to align the septum and reduce the volume of the sinuses. It’s much better than it was before… my sustainable power is rubbish now since I missed three weeks training, but I’ve noticed a distinct improvement in economy. I get to the end of races with heart rates that are significantly lower than before.
I’ve got so much work to do though – it feels pre-season; pushing and pushing and the form doesn’t improve… Hopefully it will woosh up in time for the Volta a Portugal. I’m happy I got it done. I still suffer with allergies and can’t take the right medicine for them and race, since it’s a corticosteroid, which is annoying. Spring is nearly over, so I’ve toughed out the worse of it.
Since I last wrote I’ve only had one bad race, the Volta ao Alentejo
I was cold and I haven’t got a good track record in the cold. I’ve noticed I don’t go well also when I have to get into groups, marking other teams etc… It’s probably a lack of racing. Otherwise I’ve done pretty well, lots of breakaways…
Within the team the racing hasn’t gone well, lots of people are simply putting their own interests ahead of those of the team and there seems to be a lack of focus and a lot of stress. A lot of guys wanting opportunities without earning them. I had a good think about it and I’m not too worried about it. I do my best.
I won’t be racing the British championships this year
At the right time to organise it, things with the team weren’t working and the outlook was dire. I’m not fussed, I’m not going well at the moment and it’s a lot of hassle going there and racing by myself and bad luck as small as missing a feed or getting a puncture turns into an utter fiasco without a team.
In Abergavenny I was in the lead group and the guy who agreed to hand up the mussete and bottle simply didn’t appear. Last year my ‘assistants’ didn’t really get the knack of handing up bottles… I didn’t get one, plus the fact my head wasn’t in the right place due to being on freshly glued tubs, I didn’t do very well.
I’d do the Portuguese championships, but it’s not an open championship and it’s way too late to change my licence.
Like bad luck, good luck seems to come all at once and in my ‘business’ life people are realising how good the Algarve is for cycling – it’s getting more and more popular.
I’m really enjoying coaching too
Each client is like a puzzle for me. Some are easy, other are hard.
I’ve found a couple of things really quite interesting, like the motivation of amateur athletes. It couldn’t be more different from elites.
Elites are kind of a sad bunch, motivation is usually extrinsic, like money or ego; they’re almost destined to be unsatisfied.
Amateurs have this internal battle for self-fulfilment or distraction going on, which I recognise but don’t understand.
Personally, motivation comes in two phases: I’m happy when I can make a living doing what I like. Then my motivation shifts to doing the best job possible. So it’s a bit of both.
My next project is going to be setting up a ‘lab’ for physiological and biomechanical testing.
This is more out of academic interest than anything else. I’d also like to sew it in with a bike fit type thing, maybe with a bike brand, just because I’m not a fan of off-the-peg carbon frames, and think something bespoke and made of steel or titanium is better. Off-the-peg carbon frames are grand if you’re racing and don’t need to pay for them.
I’m still thinking about it…