Journals

Journals 2022: introducing… Nathan Hardy

The 17-year-old Tofauti Everyone Active rider becomes our first ever junior journal contributor

We are welcoming a new batch of journal contributors in 2022. We have already revealed the first two of our new ‘signings’: Ollie Hucks and Flora Perkins. Our third reveal is Nathan Hardy, who will be a second-year junior this season, riding for Tofauti Everyone Active…

We welcome 17-year-old Nathan Hardy as the first-ever junior rider to join our team of journal contributors. The Tofauti Everyone Active rider will be a second-year junior this year, balancing his A-level studies with racing and training. Hopefully, he’ll also have time to write a few journal posts for us, bringing you insights into life as a promising junior.

Nathan had a promising start to his junior career last year. He tells us that mistakes made in his training resulted in poor form in the early part of the season, but he showed his climbing promise later on, with 10th overall at the Fenwick’s Junior Tour of Mendip, and a top 20 in the prestigious Junior Tour of Wales, as well as wins in regional races. He’ll be looking to build on those results this year both at home and abroad.

My big goal this season is to win at national level, whether that be a stage of a stage race, a one-dayer or a GC win

Before he opens his journal account, we caught up with him to find out a little more about what makes him tick, how he’ll combine racing with studying, and what he hopes to achieve this season.

Photo: Katherine Mills

Tell us how you got into cycling. And what is it about the sport that you love?

As a family, we always cycled on holiday, just on the mountain bikes, which kick-started my love for riding. I distinctly remember watching the world (or maybe European) track championships on TV in 2011, and saying to my Dad, “I want to be a pro cyclist”. He suggested finding a club, and I went on British Cycling’s club finder, and found my first club, Cycle Club Ashwell.

It’s not just about the strongest, it’s about how you’ve ducked and dived and made those tactical decisions to get in the best position to fight at the end

The town that I’m from is just down the road from where Victoria Pendleton is from, and she also rode at Ashwell, so it was quite inspirational to be on the same path as her. What I enjoy about cycling is the freedom it gives you, and the adventures you can go on. Those are the main things that drew me to cycling for leisure but in terms of racing, it’s the fast-moving nature, and dynamism, of the bunch. Being in the middle of a fast-moving peloton is unlike anything else, it really is an exhilarating feeling. I enjoy the longer races most because of how all the smaller moments in the race add up, and appear to crescendo in the final; it’s not just about the strongest, it’s about how you’ve ducked and dived and made those tactical decisions to get in the best position to fight at the end. I’ve really been enjoying that aspect of last season. Beginning the longer races at junior really reignited my passion for racing that I had felt I was starting to lack through under 16s. 

How would you describe yourself as a rider?

I would describe myself as a punchy climber that can time trial a bit. Getting into breakaways is usually my best shot for results, rather than waiting for bunch sprints. I would say I can read races well, and make the right moves, just not always having the legs to finish them off last year, which is what I’m working on coming into this season. My best results this year have been the GC in stage races, where the longer climbs are, so I want to build on that again this year. 

What is the achievement you are most proud of in cycling so far (and why)?

I am most proud of my third place at the national circuit championships as an under 14 in 2018. The race took place at Oliver’s Mount in Scarborough, and with a 20% climb, it really suited me. I went on the attack solo midway through the race, as I was the strongest on the climb, but I was reeled back in with a lap to go. I managed to recover a bit for the final sprint and took third out of the eight-man lead group. I had thrown everything at that race, and it is the only national championship medal I’ve won on the road, making it a very special moment. 

Photo: Katherine Mills

How would you rate your 2021 season out of 10? And why?

7/10. It was quite a mixed year. I’d made a few mistakes with my training leading up to racing and this led to me arriving at the summer lacking form. I had my head kicked in at every race until about mid-July. However, I came good for August, where all of my best results came, including 10th overall at Junior Tour of Mendips, a Junior Road Series race, and then a top 20 GC finish in the Junior Tour of Wales. I had been targeting these races so to pull off results was a relief, as I was beginning to worry I was past it.

Tell us a little bit about the team you’ll be riding for this year…

I’m riding for Tofauti Everyone Active again this year. It is supported by The Tofauti Foundation, a wildlife conservation charity that works in Africa, protecting animals like elephants and rhinos from poaching. The second title sponsor, Everyone Active, is a gym chain operating across the UK. The team is based in Colchester, Essex but the squad is from all over the UK. 

I tend to ride in the day when I can fit it around lessons, and then do school work in the evening

You’re still in the junior ranks. How will you be balancing studies and cycling this year?

I’m in my final year of school, doing A-Levels in Geography, Maths and Physics. I don’t find the balance too difficult as I enjoy both cycling and school, and have academic goals that I’d like to achieve as well. I tend to ride in the day when I can fit it around lessons, and then do school work in the evening, which means I’m working quite late sometimes but allows me to have a mental break during the day. I’m quite lucky as at school we don’t have to be there unless we have lessons, so there are quite a few gaps to ride outside even in the winter, which makes training 10 times easier than trying to do 15 hours a week on the turbo. Planning is the key to balancing both. 

What would a successful 2021 look like for you?

If I can be competing for the podium in the UK nationals, and staying up towards the sharp end of UCI races on the continent, then I think 2022 will be successful. My big goal this season is to win at national level, whether that be a stage of a stage race, a one-dayer or a GC win, as I don’t have a national win yet, despite having reached the podium three times. 

Featured photo: Katherine Mills

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