A Lost Cyclist – Connie’s Column

Welcome back…
I wasn’t sure what to write about this week, I had planned to write a piece from the peak district about how amazing it is to ride your bike in different places. I had planned to tell you about how excited I was for lots of upcoming UCI races. Instead I am at home social distancing, scared, stressed, struggling without other people and feeling completely lost.

For anyone who’s been in a cave lately you might have some how missed the Covid-19 outbreak which has put the whole world on hold. No bike racing till May at the very earliest. My longest racing break was 6 weeks when I broke my back in summer 2018- even then, I had raced for 6 weeks prior in extreme pain, determined to finish the season. People keep telling me this is different and better; yes it is because we are all out of action so you don’t have to look at race results and think what if? However, when I was out I was still going to cross races weekly to watch my dad race and stay in the loop with everyone. Now its unknown when I will see friends again and this is tough.

The cycling community is the best. There you go I said it. During my teenage years I swam, rowed, had (and still have) horses and even ran a bit, yet one of the reasons I chose cycling to be my main sport was the people. Don’t get me wrong there are people in this community who I don’t agree with, there are still huge faults in the sport but the vast majority of the cycling community are gold dust.

Things are rough for the whole world right now and I really can not wait till this nightmare is over and this community can start to rebuild. My heart goes out to race organisers who had booked courses and paid for road closures who’ve now lost loads of money. I also feel for community ran/charity venues such as the brilliant Herne hill velodrome. Plus independent bike shops who may never recover from this pandemic.

As a rider this period will be tough. For me partly down to the way my brain works I need goals and in a weird way run off adrenaline so feel slightly drowned in all these emotions. I had so much planned, from several UCI races, Track races (yes you read that right I am kick starting what will probably be a unsuccessful track career as soon as I can!), TTs.

It’s the first time in my cycling career I have felt really lost. Everyone is scared for those who are vulnerable in society too, I know I don’t want anyone to end up in intensive care. I guess for now the goal for us all is to not get ill and to keep riding our bikes in order to help our mental health and morale as that’s all

Due to the lack of racing I am hopefully going to use this time to write about wider issues. I am really keen to write a piece about battling Dyspraxia and Dyslexia as the general understanding of these two issues is pretty slim. I have also had some requests to talk about my degree and balancing it with cycling as well as wider issues such as sexism in the sport. If anyone else has any more ideas please reach out to me on social media as I want to help bring some interesting aspects into peoples lives in this difficult time.
Till next time, Stay safe and well

Meet Connie, our newest Columnist

So, hello there and welcome to week one of Connie’s column. If you didn’t know already, I am Connie Hayes, I was born and bred in the best city in the world, London and I am very proud of my London postcode!  I race bikes for this super cool u23 girls squad called AWOL and get to travel Europe doing what I love best and feel super grateful for this. I am also a full time student studying Human Geography at Queen Mary University of London which I absolutely love. 

Here is a little introduction to me as a person. As a rider a lot of people jump to brand me a tester when in reality I call myself an all-rounder- I love every aspect of racing my bikes whether that be smashing it out in a TT or climbing huge bergs to being covered in mud racing cyclocross. Road has the largest place in my heart but my relationships with Cross and Track are both starting to blossom which I think is nice as doing one displine would be a bit one dimensional. My best result last year is a tricky one to define on paper it was probably my 16th at the elite national crit champs. Yet, personally I think it was getting round the UCI races I managed to finish as just a few years prior I couldn’t get round a youth national yet alone a professional level race. As a person I am well known for being very quirky. I am quite introverted which I think really helps me with my mental drive when it comes to training, I like to think having the mental strength to hack out 3 hours on the turbo with no Zwift is a skill that everyone wants in life… My preferred place to ride in the UK has to be the peak district (sorry Essex) I love hills and the beauty of the landscape. Racing all over europe, I think my favourite race to date has to be GP Isbergue, I loved the rolling climbs and the atmosphere. Away from cycling I am often found studying for my degree, I have a strong interest in Geo-politics and Housing hence why I choose to do a geography degree. I opted to study alongside cycling as I wanted a degree to fall back on and I also wanted to keep cycling fun and not make it a ‘job’ at 18. Its been a tough winter balancing it all but I am so happy I am at university, especially as my uni give me lots of support (more on that in a future post). 

I wanted to write a column to give people an insight into what life is like trying to be the best rider I physically can be whilst trying to balance this with my academic studies at a top flight uni so when I got approached about writing for the chain gang there was no second thoughts.  I also have both Dyslexia and Dyspraxia and I want to raise awareness of this in a bid to show people that if you put your mind to it there are no barriers to anything in life and feel a column would be a great place to do this. In my posts I will talk about everything from races, training, things I do away from cycling and topics that I feel are important within the sport of cycling and further afield. I hope you stick around and read the future posts in this series and enjoying gaining an insight into my life on the road. 

See you next week