Ashey’s 1st Blog :
Blog de 1ª Etapa
My journey of coming to race in Spain started when I got put in touch with Elliot Reed by Mark Dolan at Epiccoaching©. Elliot had a ride with EC La Tova – Asesoria Almudevar for 2019 and I got in touch with them to enquire. After a few emails back and forth, an agreement had been reached, I was going to race in Spain in 2019. On the 30th of October 2018 the next step of my adventure took place (albeit this was not one that I had planned). I was hit off my bike whilst out training between Basingstoke and Newbury. Knocked unconscious and left with a broken ankle. I was out of action. But for how long? It turned out I wouldn’t ride my bike until the 22nd of January 2019 a full three months off. Even then it was only on the turbo trainer because it was too much of a risk to ride on the road. Was this the end of my goals to race at the highest level in Spain? Well firstly, I needed the team to stick by me, and seeing as I’d never met any of them this wasn’t guaranteed. They deserve massive credit for believing in me despite knowing that I was doing zero cycling in my lead-up to moving out to Spain. It would have been the easier for them not to have a rider (especially one new to the team and country) recovering from an injury. Quite simply, a thank you to EC La Tova and Adrian (Team Manager) for believing in my potential despite the difficult circumstances. Secondly I needed to find a way of getting myself fit without putting any weight on my ankle. Not an easy task. Aerobically it was a tough one, I didn’t want to do too much upper body based work because I would simply have to lose the weight once I got back riding. Swimming was the obvious choice, it was non weight bearing and would not ‘distort’ my body shape too much. However, I’m not really much of a swimmer, I love swimming in the ocean, but pools really aren’t my thing. I did take a few trips to the pool towards the end of my recovery, but primarily I opted for an adapted body weight program. It consisted of yoga and stretches, that I modified to eradicate weight bearing with my left ankle. I did the same with core exercises, and along with my coach we went through and picked movements that would work or adapted them. In this vein we built up a routine that I could do to keep myself in some sort of shape.
And so I arrived in Spain, still wearing a boot and only supposed to ride on the turbo trainer. Far from ideal. I was woefully unprepared for riding some of the highest level U23 races in the world, I couldn’t even unclip my shoes from my pedals. To all intents and purposes I’m a pro cyclist, but I’m not getting paid and I can’t ride my bike. Things took a step in the right direction a couple of days after arriving in Huesca, I rode my bike outside for the first time. It felt amazing, the wind in my hair and the bike speeding underneath me. There was only one problem, I couldn’t get this thought out my head, it was perpetual, on every corner, each time the speed increased. “Don’t Crash!” A stupid thought – and one that was not helping me to relax and enjoy the moment – but it was very real. If I crashed I could be straight back to square one, no bike riding, no racing, no nothing. The thought has lessened over time, however I think it serves as a reminder for me to continue to ride carefully. Until the time comes when I can commit to taking risks and racing down the descents again.
The weekend of our arrival was to be the team training camp, a testing ground to see where everyone was at. Josh Sandman, the third Brit on the team, excelled winning the battle to the top of the last climb of the day on Saturday. I got to watch it all unfold from the comfy seat of the team car because I had stepped off the bike a few kilometres previously. Easing myself back to training was important and I didn’t want to overdo things too soon. Poco a Poco. The Sunday was an 80km ride in the morning (which I completed) and the team presentation at Sommos winery in the afternoon. It was a great day, it all felt very professional, and we (the three Brits) had really started to get to know some of the guys on the team.
The 3 English Amigos: Joshua Sandman (left), Elliot Reed (middle) and Me (right) 2019 is going to be a great year with La Tova, a very professional setup that will take us to some of the best races. For now it’s all about getting the hard training miles in, ready for what is going to be a stellar season with Equipo La Tova. I’m really looking forward to making the most of this opportunity and sharing the story along the way!