Ed Laverack and three other riders are keeping rider journals for The British Continental this season. Ed is a former JLT Condor rider who has joined the new UCI Continental team SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling for the 2019 season. This is Ed’s first journal entry…
I got inspired by Nicole Cooke winning the Olympic Road Race in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. I was 14, I thought my life would take me down the classic football route; it’s amazing how one moment can change your view on life. She won that race in the pouring rain, and being Welsh, I guess that made it all the more sweet. I joined Bynea Cycling Club, I still do their rides weekly, but it wasn’t until I was 17 that I began racing. I didn’t win anything major, but my progression was hard to miss. I worked like a dog, waking at 4am, training, going to college, training afterwards. Not every day, but the majority of days were like that. I wish I had found YouTube earlier so I could document it all, because some thought I was lucky, even my closest friends. The Junior Tour of Wales was my aim, I finished 3rd overall, and that lay the first brick in my professional career in cycling.
Highs and lows
What people can relate to most are the highs and the lows. Especially if they happen one after the other. I was in the deep end as a first-year on Rapha Condor [in 2013 – Ed]. I experienced my first ever plane journey at 18, when we flew to Australia for a 2-month training camp, also the longest I’d been away from home. I had a new laptop and a new iPhone so I could keep in touch but boy was it tough. I raced in 40-degree heat: what an experience. I did the Tour Series that year. Teammate James McCallum told me, “These crits either give you loads of fitness, or you find yourself in a hole.” I was the latter. I rode all the rounds bar one and was gassed at the end, both mentally and physically. But it was part of a bigger picture. John Herety knew what he was doing. I learnt that as I grew alongside his team for 6 years. 12 months on from the biggest hiding of my life in the Tour Series, I won the under-23 national road race title, finishing 13th in the British Road Race Championships in Abergavenny.
Cycling is as much a team sport as it is individual. What drew me to it was the hard work in the darkness. Let me explain. You turn up to a race as a team, you race as a team, you leave as an individual. It’s the time between when you leave and when you get back to the next race where all the work happens. I’ve seen riders that can’t train on their own, they have to train in a group. I love training on my own, every day, doing something that will make me a better person overall. When no one is watching (darkness), that’s the time to be putting in the work. I’m so internally driven, because of where I’ve come from, what I’ve done, and where I see myself going, it comes natural to me. It’s just about shifting a mindset and a focus. Motivation is temporary, but what drives you will wake you up every day with a purpose.
About 3 years ago I started experimenting with nutrition. All aspects of it. I document it on Youtube now as much as possible. I used to eat whatever I wanted, within reason, and ride along at 64kg. I started learning about sports science, but more through experimenting. I dropped a significant amount of weighted now race between 58kg (hill climbs) and 60kg for road races and alike. This is now my optimum racing weight. I don’t say that lightly. I don’t advocate being as light or lean as possible, I just advocate trying something different to find what suits you and what not only makes you a better athlete but also a happier and healthier person. I would call myself a climber now, especially the longer climbs, and turned myself into a robust multi-day rider.
I’m more excited about the fact that everything is an unknown this year. It’s keeping me on edge and on my toes which is something I love
My new team
I will be riding for SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling in 2019. I reached out to them in late October 2018 enquiring about their possible ambition to gain UCI Continental status. I was late to the party, searching for teams; because of my crash in June last year it kept me out of the loop for a couple of months. I’m more excited about the fact that everything is an unknown this year. It’s keeping me on edge and on my toes which is something I love.
Where I live and train
The team is based in Yorkshire, but I will be based in my hometown of Llanelli. Those of you that follow rugby, should have heard of the Scarlets. Every rider says their area to train is the best so I wont get in to that. We have cycle paths stretching across all points of the compass from Llanelli. A new cycle racing circuit has been built in Pembrey. Mumbles Pier and the Gower peninsula is right here. There are plenty of options for riding and not riding, with a number of cafes here! I can ride for 5 hours and climb only 600 metres, or I can head to the Gwendreath Valley and do 5 hours with 4000 metres of climbing in 120 kilometres, without being more than 20 kilometres from home. I really want to organise some rides down here this year for people to come and experience the roads I train on.
Been back training 8 weeks now and coaching myself this year. I averaged 19 hours a week in the winter last year but this year I’ve cut it to 13 hour but introduced more structured intensity, using Zwift too. To track my fitness I did a 20-minute power test at the beginning of the block and retested after 8 weeks. I’ve seen an improvement of 5%, 335 to 350 watts. The most interesting part is that I did the same test this time last year and got the same result. I’ve been able to see the same adaptations by doing 6 hours less training a week. Freeing up more time for me to work on my pilates, plyometrics, coaching other riders and seeing my girlfriend, Charlie, studying in Cardiff University.
I want to be able to put my neck on the line more this year and be able to say, “I can win this”
Planning for the season is kind of vague this time of year. There’s lots on, but getting it all down on a definite plan is different. I want to be able to put my neck on the line more this year and be able to say, “I can win this.” The hill climbs will be massive this year for me if the nationals are on Haytor as I currently hold the course record. The national road race championships [being held in Norfolk in 2019 – Ed] won’t be much of a target as it will be fairly flat and windy. If we can get abroad and race on some multi-day climbing races I’ll target them.
Of course, I want to do things outside the competitive bubble too. I want to be involved with the cycling community more in the UK, see what I can offer people, organise rides, things like that. Lands End to John O’Groats or Revolve 24 is on my radar too.
Ed’s brilliant vlog is well worth checking out.
Featured photo: John Smith / Same Old Smith Photography