First year under-23 Mattie Dodd is our first journal contributor of 2023. Mattie riders for the UCI Continental Tirol-KTM development team this season while also focusing on completing his A-Levels. In his first entry, he introduces himself, and recounts his early experiences of life with his new Austrian team…
“Oida” – a Viennese dialect exclamation that means, well, anything. It can be used to express happiness, sadness, excitement, anger and everything in between. It was the first word I was taught by my new teammates over a tense game of Cheat in the evening. It’s now my go-to expression.
Maybe I’m going too fast by showing my limited knowledge of Tyrolean slang straight out of the blocks and should probably start by introducing myself.
I’m Mattie Dodd, a first-year U23 rider riding for Tirol-KTM, an Austrian UCI Continental development team. Last year, I rode for Great Britain, was second at the junior national road race championships and got a few other decent results at some big races.
Tirol is a superbly organised set-up, not that you’d expect anything less from the Austrians, with a great race calendar and multiple WorldTour and ProConti alumni. They’ve just been announced as one of Bora-Hansgrohe’s two devo teams, as well. We’ve also got some pretty distinctive kit.
A few weeks ago, over my half term, I had a superb week in Lake Garda, at the apartment that the team rents for the first two months of the year. During this time I had a few days of testing to do for the team, best described as “schädlspoitn” (literally “skull-splitting”), which included 3 and 12-minute tests, both fresh and after their infamous “fatigue protocol”. It was a great chance to put some numbers down and shake out the legs before the start of the season. Also, Lake Garda – wow! A phenomenal place to ride your bike. Mountains, lakes, superb views, mega climbs, stracciatella-flavoured yogurt – it’s got it all.
It was then four days at home before jetting off to the service course in Innsbruck for team photos, where I gave my best attempt to earn a part in the next Zoolander film. Also, more free kit. I still find it quite hard to remain professional when new bike stuff is thrown in my direction.
After two or three rides exploring the riding around Innsbruck in the snow and freezing temperatures, we had a six-hour journey to the Croatian border region of Istria. What a place to ride a bike. I found myself riding on Croatia’s equivalent of Surrey’s back “lanes”, linking the hilltop villages with views of snow-capped mountains on my left, separated from me by forest and moorland. On my right, I could see the manicured coastal towns with their box-fresh holiday homes down below, bordering the Adriatic Sea. I can highly recommend what is a massively underrated cycling destination.
My brakes locked up, my tyres lost grip and before I knew it, I was using a poor Dutch rider as an impromptu airbag
We were there for a team camp mixed with the team’s first race block of the year. That meant my first time pinning the numbers on my bright red/orange skinsuit. In my infamous wisdom I decided to make some minor adjustments to the tailoring of said skinsuit in the form of a stupid crash early on. I was racing Trofej Umag (UCI 1.2), a notoriously sketchy race. I went down early on and that resulted in my race being over. I was livid, to put it mildly. It was a stupid crash that I could have avoided were it for better positioning. My brakes locked up, my tyres lost grip and before I knew it, I was using a poor Dutch rider as an impromptu airbag. For those of you that have ever raced, I’m sure you can relate to something similar. That’s bike racing though, swings and roundabouts, or “Spital oder Pokal” as they say in Austrian (literally, hospital or trophy).
Nevertheless, a really nice few days riding in Istria afterward. Did I mention how nice it was? I also introduced the team to Marmite. I probably don’t need to explain the looks I got with that.
I went from having free food on tap, massages every day, my bike looked after and cleaned for me and riding every day in the Mediterranean sun on Sunday afternoon, to learning about coastal landforms in a classroom on Tuesday morning
Annoyingly, I couldn’t stay longer. That’s the reality of being in my last year of school. I went from having free food on tap, massages every day, my bike looked after and cleaned for me and riding every day in the Mediterranean sun on Sunday afternoon, to learning about coastal landforms in a classroom on Tuesday morning and riding in three degrees and driving rain. That is just the nature of having my last year at school being my first year as senior bike racer, not much I can do about it though. I could even stretch as far as saying it’s good efficiency practice, if that’s a thing?
Anyway, the next few months look to be more juggling bike racing and school, all while slowly becoming fluent in the ways of the Austrian youth.
I hope you enjoyed this first journal entry. I do enjoy my writing and am always looking to improve – any advice is welcome. Until next time…
Find out more
Follow Mattie on Twitter.
Follow Mattie on Instagram.