Charlotte Broughton is one of nine cyclists keeping rider journals for The British Continental in 2021. Charlotte was a ten times national champion as a youth and now rides for the new UCI Continental AWOL O’Shea. In her second journal entry, Charlotte talks about dealing with change in uncertain times…
The pandemic has changed many aspects of life for so many across the world. Countless lives have been lost. And for the more fortunate, life as we knew it has been turned on its head. In cycling, fewer races have occurred (none have happened at all in the UK), team budgets have been reduced, and many riders have found themselves retiring early.
On a personal level – like so many – I found myself in a very different situation to the one I’d hoped to be in pre-Covid. My partner, Matt Gibson, and I have seen our combined income drop, meaning we’ve taken the tough decision to leave the house we shared together in order to focus on our cycling careers. Nonetheless, we recognise we are both so lucky to be on UCI Continental teams; so many riders weren’t as fortunate in finding a contract.
I am a true believer in just going for it and doing things no matter how difficult they may be; I try not to overthink things too much (admittedly a tad difficult to do when suffering from anxiety). At the end of the day, life only begins at the end of your comfort zone and risk-takers are often the ones who turn out to be successful in this life. Well, so it seems anyway. I cannot yet confirm that to be the case here…
There’s no shame in trying something new and it not working out the way you’d hoped
I had many reservations about moving back in with my parents. No one ever feels successful when returning to live with parents, no one feels intrinsically good about it once they’ve already moved out previously. I can’t help but feel as though I’m a slight failure. However, there’s no shame in trying something new and it not working out the way you’d hoped. There is strength in admitting something isn’t working. And we are both so hugely grateful to have such supportive parents on both sides who have really been a lifeline for us. Therefore, I shall try to refrain from judging myself too harshly given the current global circumstances. Regardless, I’m just a twenty-something person trying to make a dream work and I’m willing to do what I can in order to succeed. There’s no shame in that. In my opinion, as long as you keep moving forward, you are doing the right thing.
Since the move, I’ve really dived headfirst back into structured training post-Covid. My training has been very consistent and I have even reintroduced specific efforts now that my fitness is up to a reasonable standard. However, my form has not been quite to the standard I’d liked in order to race, so I decided to withdraw from competing in the Healthy Ageing Tour. The decision was incredibly tough for me to make but I had to think about the coming season and not be tempted by the instant gratification of participating in such a prestigious race. My time will come and I’m ok that I have to wait a little while longer to get my racing ‘hit’ again.
The day after we had fully moved out, I had a call from someone close to me who had been awaiting biopsy results. Then that dreaded that six-letter word: cancer. My body felt as though it was full of tiny cold stones. My heart felt absent in my chest, leaving all but a gaping void. Cancer? How can it be? Again? In the last seven years, I’ve lost four people to cancer. As selfish as it may sound (given I’m not the one receiving said diagnosis), it has been nothing but traumatic. The pain and heartache cancer leaves in a loved one’s heart post-passing stings: my heart still aches from the passing of my incredible grandparents.
When the words came tumbling from their mouth, I struggled to hear what was to follow, my brain hyper-focusing in on the buzz word ‘cancer’, the lump in my throat making it hard to speak. I tried to clear it, I tried to speak so they couldn’t hear it. Why them? It’s always hard to find the right words when having this conversation. I just wanted to hold them, but I couldn’t. My heart has ached ever since.
Thankfully, it now sounds as though they should be ok given the type of cancer that they’ve been diagnosed with. But the one thing I learned from my previous experience is that you never can be too sure. It’s a horrible disease that can change and develop in ways you can’t always foresee. Nonetheless, I’ve got my fingers crossed that they make a full recovery. Sending love to anyone who may be fighting, has been affected by, or who has lost a loved one to cancer.
This has reminded me again just how important it is to live your life fully. Life is just so incredibly precious. It can be so beautiful and fulfilling. But only if your mindset allows it. It can also be difficult. At times you may not even be sure if you can carry on. I have been there and it was a tough road back out of that place. But if you aren’t here, you can’t see how beautiful it can be. I get to wake up every morning, see the sun rise, do the sport I love (which for me really gives so much meaning to my life), and then I also get to see the sun set. I’m incredibly thankful for this life. I’m thankful for the hardships, I’m thankful for the lessons and I’m thankful for the beauty.
I can’t pretend my heart isn’t breaking and I feel massively deflated but I can still find happiness; it’s there. It’s there in loved ones and in the things that give me purpose. It’s also abundantly present within my dreams, such high hopes and big dreams I have for my life, especially within cycling. But that’s the thing; you never know when yours may, unfortunately, cease to continue, so please do what you love. Have the courage to do what you love and be loyal to your dreams wholly. Whether it’s cycling or your dream job, please see this as a sign to go forth and take that opportunity, make a new opportunity and have the strength to leave behind things that don’t add purpose and meaning to your life. The power is always in our own hands. We get to decide how we react to things and situations. Ensure you react in a way that propels you into the life you crave.
And be kind: always be kind. We can never fully know what others are going through in their lives or minds.
Featured photo: Calvin Cheung
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