Joe Evans and three other riders are keeping rider journals for The British Continental this season. Joe is a former Madison Genesis rider who now rides for Cornish-based elite-level team Saint Piran. This is Joe’s first journal entry…
Staying true to who I am
It’s taken me a long time to decide what I wanted to write about in my first journal post. The past few weeks I’ve had exams so writing this piece has kind of been on the back burner, but now I have the time to do it and I’m still just as stuck! Part of the reason I’ve been agonising over it so much is that I’m not normally very good at social media. I envy those that are, the people that can self promote and gain loads of followers and post pictures of themselves out training, more power to them. However, that’s not me, I’m far too self-deprecating to be like that.
Do I ignore my feelings of insecurity and just tell people all about how many watts I can do, and how marvellous I am at bike racing?
So it’s left me in somewhat of a quandary about how to approach this journal post. Do I ignore my feelings of insecurity and just tell people all about how many watts I can do, and how marvellous I am at bike racing and how 2019 is going to be the biggest and most successful year yet? Or do I stay a bit more true to who I am and try and write honest journals about my life in cycling, the good, the bad and the ugly? I’ve decided on the latter. Not to say that this will be a negative endeavour and you’ll read my journals and have your head in your hands, I’m hoping there will be some moments when I can blow my own trumpet a little. But my aim in this is to cut through any fake facade and give an honest account of my season and life in general. But first, a little introduction…
How it all began
I started cycling at quite a young age, my first race being a little BMX race where I used to live in Southampton, about aged 7. However, my BMX career was short-lived as later that year my family moved up to Scotland, which as I’m sure you can imagine was a pretty big upheaval for a 7-year-old.
As difficult as it was moving up north, Scotland was the place that really sparked my love for cycling. We lived in the borders in a small village called Broughton, although it would be more accurate to say we lived in the middle of nowhere and Broughton was the closest thing to civilisation! I got my first road bike for my eighth birthday and started riding the track at Meadowbank the first summer we lived in Scotland, and that’s when I was really hooked. Every weekend my Dad and I would go out and ride in the lanes around where we used to live and then in the summer I’d go to the velodrome on a Saturday morning, and that’s how I got my love for the sport.
I never really felt like I fit in at school, being the only English kid probably didn’t help, but I immediately felt welcomed by the cycling community in Edinburgh, and some of my happiest memories from that time are from riding bikes! We moved away from Scotland when I was about 12 down to where I now call home, Uttoxeter, which you won’t have heard of but that’s not important.
Fast forwarding a little, as a junior I spent 2 years on the Olympic Development Programme (as it was then called) before spending 3 years with Madison Genesis. There’s far too much to dissect about those 5 years to sum up in an introductory post so maybe something to touch on in later posts. But that’s pretty much my story up until now!
Steve Lampier got in touch and pitched Saint Piran to me as plainly as I’ve ever been pitched a team
Steve Lampier and Saint Piran
This year will be my second year riding for Saint Piran. After 2018 there was very little doubt in my mind of where I wanted to ride in 2019! I always get asked, “are your from Cornwall then?” and then when I answer no, it’s followed by “Oh, how come you’re riding for them then?” So let me use this platform to explain a little further how I came to be riding for this little Cornish outfit.
I’d had, by all accounts, a pretty dismal 2017 season and was left feeling pretty dejected and really questioning my position in the sport and whether or not I wanted to keep racing at all. I was back working in the bike shop and wasn’t really seeking out teams for 2018.
Steve Lampier [Saint Piran rider and team manager] got in touch and pitched Saint Piran to me as plainly as I’ve ever been pitched a team. Lamps and I hadn’t had a lot to do with each other up until then. In fact, the only time we’d spent together was being in the breakaway together in the Lincoln Grand Prix, a race we both feel should’ve gone a different way, but that’s a story for another day. It was no-nonsense; no promises of an amazing race calendar or of tonnes of infrastructure which would then be gradually eroded throughout the year.
So it wasn’t the glittering pitch that most people get from team managers, but it was exactly what I needed to hear, it was honest. I think Lamps could sense that I wasn’t enjoying my racing and wanted to get me to a place where I was enjoying it again, and I like to think there was some mutual respect there between the two of us.
Over the course of the season, I really came out my shell, and felt much more like myself. In previous years I had really struggled to fully be myself in team environments, for many reasons, which when I look back definitely influenced how I performed on the bike and impacted my enjoyment and love for the sport. 2018 was the most fun I’ve had on a bike in many, many years, the combination of a great group of guys and having Lamps at the helm made it such a great environment to race in! I think we achieved a lot as a small team with a small budget and punched above our weight on many occasions. So I do have to say a massive thank you to the team for basically saving cycling for me, which sounds melodramatic but it’s the truth.
So in a nutshell that’s me, I hope to go into some more detail about various aspects of my cycling in later entries and hopefully give some insight into balancing university life and trying to compete at the top level of British cycling.
Featured photo: Ewan Thacker / http://www.ewanthackerphoto.com