Charlotte Broughton has been one of ten cyclists keeping rider journals for The British Continental in 2021. Charlotte was a ten times national champion as a youth and has ridden with the new UCI Continental AWOL O’Shea this season. In her final journal entry, Charlotte reflects on the year gone and lessons learned…
Without sounding too dramatic I guess this is where I bid The British Continental team and readers farewell. I want to start off by saying that this outlet has given me some purpose and passion in what has been an incredibly tough and draining year for us all, both emotionally and physically.
Writing is an incredibly powerful tool that has helped me cope with my current situation and has definitely been a form of catharsis for me
On a personal note, I suffered injury and illness and faced a family cancer diagnosis. It’s safe to say, therefore, that in many ways it may be a positive thing that this year is drawing to an end.
Looking ahead, I’m glad to have signed for a team next year, it’s great to be given that stability. At the time of writing, however, someone very close to me has yet find a new contract. It’s tough, but I’ve come to accept other people’s issues are not mine, even if they have a knock-on effect. As savage as this may sound it’s actually a less emotive, more pragmatic way of seeing things. What will be will be for them and I hope they get everything that they worked so hard for. Ultimately, though, I’m just another cyclist; I don’t call the shots. I need to focus on my ‘controllables’ and not things that are out of my command.
Although this year didn’t include much race action for me, it did involve making – as well as seeing – new friends, which has been a total blessing for me. I am a homebody; I love being in my own space and rather enjoy being by myself. But going to races and seeing people in person has really helped me so much in regards to my social anxiety and wider appreciation for the world of cycling.
I’ve also had some really wonderful and thought-provoking conversations on social media as a result of my previous journal posts here on The British Continental. Again, something I am very grateful for. It has meant so much to me knowing that some of the things I’ve spoken about have resonated with so many of you. I hope in some ways these posts can also serve as a guide to what not to do and how to get through tough times in a positive way.
The struggles and tough times force you to learn. I feel closer to a spiritual purpose and I feel I know myself far better after this interval
Looking back as a whole at this year on the bike, I’m completely and utterly heartbroken. Covid-19, a broken hand in my first race back, and then recurring lung infections was not what I would’ve chosen from the menu. But the struggles and tough times force you to learn. I feel closer to a spiritual purpose and I feel I know myself far better after this interval. Some of the words I’ve written have been tough and triggering. Some I wrote with tears streaming down my face but I spoke my truth: something which I feel I can be very proud of. Especially in our age of social media fakery.
Moreover, what I did learn from this year is that cycling, though an immensely rewarding and joyous sport, can and will crack you completely if you don’t take care of you. For me, this meant ensuring I went out into nature to recharge. I’m only just starting to appreciate that at points I was on the verge of being utterly broken by my circumstances, but luckily I stepped back. I had the support from my family to do so and I’m very grateful for that privilege. So to answer that incredibly annoying question I keep getting asked: yes, I am still cycling and no, I’ve not given up just yet…
From this amazing platform and opportunity that I was lucky enough to be given by The British Continental, I found my love and confidence for writing again. I’ve now got a couple of writing jobs within the cycling industry which I can say for sure was in part thanks to this experience. Writing is an incredibly powerful tool that has helped me cope with my current situation and has definitely been a form of catharsis for me. It’s also a wonderful way to reach out to others, which I think we can all agree has been greatly needed this year.
Therefore, I do feel sad to be parting ways with the wonderful team at The British Continental. But as they say, all good things must come to an end. Thanks so much to everyone for the support and positive responses.
Here’s now to the future – all of our futures. I have absolutely no idea what mine entails, but I’m taking my newfound wiseness and general life experience with me and setting new foundations wherever I end up.
Ciao for now x
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