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Joe Evans journal: it’s not all about the bike

Rider journals: Joe Evans #3

Joe Evans and three other riders are keeping rider journals for The British Continental this season. Joe, 22, is a former Madison Genesis rider who now rides for Cornish-based elite-level team Saint Piran. This is Joe’s thir journal entry…

It’s so important to have other things to take your mind away from cycling and to develop yourself as a person as well as a bike rider

Photo: Ewan Thacker / http://www.ewanthackerphoto.com

My March entry is a little bit late, obviously, because it’s now April. I’d been thinking about what to write about in my piece this month but was having a bit of trouble because I’ve been really busy with Uni and getting the race season up and running. So I thought that would be an interesting topic to write my journal post about.

I touched on my schedule a little bit in a previous post about my early season ventures in France. At the time I thought that was going to be an anomaly of a week, being away for two weekends on the bounce and only in one place for a handful of days at a time. However, that has not been the case. Since my first block of racing in mid-February it feels like I’ve been back and forth to races, training, writing essays, meeting my new nephew and trying to squeeze in a bit of a social life all at the same time. It’s been a pretty stressful term and has felt like every week has needed a considerable amount of planning ahead. Not only planning for where I was going to be on a given day, but what work I had to catch up on, what I was going to eat, when I was going to do my shopping etc. It got to the point I was having to think so far ahead that my girlfriend helped me create a spreadsheet with everything on that I needed to get done, colour coded and everything!

I overheard one parent say “well he’s not brilliant at school, thank god he’s got cycling” and I couldn’t help but think how misguided an opinion that is

Photo: Ewan Thacker / http://www.ewanthackerphoto.com

I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I’m sure there are plenty of other student athletes doing the exact same thing and having to juggle everything, but for me it’s pretty new. Before I came to Uni my day was always centred around training and racing. The first thing I thought about when I woke up was the day’s session, and it’s been that way for a considerable amount of time. Even last year when I was working, all my shifts were in the afternoon so the day still revolved around the training I was doing. However, now there are so many other things on my mind like assignments and lectures, and then just general life admin that everyone has to do. What I’ve found as well is that it’s down to me to sort it all out. The University isn’t going to cut me any slack just because I’m a bike rider, certainly not in the same way they did when I was at school. If things are late or not up to scratch then it’s on me. My tutors aren’t going to let me re-do any work because I decided to go and race my bike in France!

All of that has meant that at times the bike riding has felt completely secondary to everything else. It’s refreshing in some ways, to have other things going on to occupy my mind so I’m not constantly thinking about bike riding. And it’s partly the reason I went to Uni in the first place. I didn’t want to get stuck in the revolving door of UK domestic cycling, always unsure where I was going to be year on year. I’d found my previous experience of that pretty stressful and made me question how much I actually enjoyed cycling. When I was eventually in a situation where I wasn’t getting paid to ride my bike anymore I felt totally lost. I’d love to be in a position where riding my bike is my job, that’s what I’ve dreamed of since I was a little kid, but if that doesn’t happen I feel a lot better that I have other opportunities beyond racing.

Joe (centre) in action at the 2018 Chorley Grand Prix. Photo: James York / JamesYorkPhoto.com

I’m a little bit late coming to Uni, being 22 and only in my first year. It never seemed like an option when I was 18 and all my friends were going.  When I was doing my A levels I was riding for the ODP and pretty much a full-time junior, not really thinking about anything beyond cycling, because in my mind I was going to get onto the academy and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything else. However, when I failed my first year of A levels and didn’t get on the academy suddenly everything seemed very unclear and quite worrying.  Luckily the school let me resit the year and I joined Madison Genesis but when I think back to that time I can’t help but think that I should have been thinking more about what lay beyond cycling. I should have taken more time to study, but that never seemed like an option.

The main thing I would say to any juniors or to people new to cycling it would be not to limit yourself to it

Something reminded me of this over the winter. I was at track league one evening and overheard some parents talking about their sons’ school/cycling balance, and I thought to myself, I remember that! But then I overheard one parent say “well he’s not brilliant at school, thank god he’s got cycling” and I couldn’t help but think how misguided an opinion that is! I hate to see ‘full-time juniors’. That may seem a bit harsh for me to say but I think it’s such a sorry state to be in. Cycling is not sustainable at all, for the tiny percentage of people that make it to the top and make a living out of it is great. But for the vast majority of people that isn’t the case and to limit yourself at 17, 18 to just racing bikes is a mistake. It’s taken me a bit of time to figure that out and I’m certainly not here to preach, but as someone who has made plenty of mistakes along the way, the main thing I would say to any juniors or to people new to cycling it would be not to limit yourself to it. Cycling is a great sport but it can also be consuming and can really take over your life. It’s so important to have other things to take your mind away from it and to develop yourself as a person as well as a bike rider.

Read more

Rider journals: Joe Evans #2

Rider journals: Joe Evans #1

Rider journals: introducing Joe Evans

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