Not always leading the pack
At age 19 I was accepted onto the British Cycling Academy and moved to Manchester. It was November of 2013 and though in my mind I’d been knocking on the door of greatness for the past year and a bit, to British Cycling I’d come as a bit of a surprise. Like an unexpected baby but to a couple that’s already settled with kids and fully equipped to deal with another. Sure, we haven’t painted your room yellow or brought the crib down from the attic, but purple is a fine shade, the crib will take two minutes to put together, and so we’ll just have to make room and love you nonetheless. So Mama UK Sport and Papa British Cycling made space, and two months after the ‘official’ Academy intake of that year they took on another and down south I went.
Part of being on the Academy is living in Programme housing. You pay your ‘Academy contribution’ each month, which is a sort of faux rent, and in return you’re put in a house without any bills to pay and you’ll never have to buy an inner tube again (a perk that shouldn’t be overlooked). I moved into a lovely three-bed house with what were now my Programme team-mates, Elinor Barker, Dannielle Khan, and Rosie Blount. Of course my arrival meant estate agents had evidence that that extra cupboard is in fact a bedroom and so, yes, we can call it a four-bed house, which I still feel guilty about. The door hit my single bed when you opened it and my storage was a single free-standing clothes rail, so I kept my suitcase under the bed and never unpacked. This is the reason I’m thinking about it now, five years later, as I pack for the Berlin World Cup this weekend, slowed down by the fact that first I have to unpack my case from my last trip. Old habits, eh. Berlin Track World Cup will be covered on Eurosport Nov 30-Dec 2 with commentary from Joanna Rowsellshand, whom I have already bribed to comment on how wonderful I am.