The 13 riders of the GB Transplant Cycling Team, representing Great Britain at the 19th World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa this July, are meeting at the Stourport cycling circuit on 15th June as final preparation for the trip.
All of the team have had lifesaving organ transplants (7 kidneys, 4 livers, 1 heart and 1 bone marrow to be precise!) and are only racing and riding because of the bravery of selfless others who’ve had the foresight to join the organ donor register and tell their family and loved ones of their wishes.
The meeting will include the unveiling of the team’s new kit, produced by one of our supporters Pro Vision, and funded through generous donations from Therakos and number of individual and company sponsors who support the campaign to increase awareness of organ donation and transplantation. Similarly, Cycling Plus are helping us to raise awareness and we are pleased to be displaying their logo on our jerseys this year. All the team riders are self-funded so without this vital support we would not be able to take what will be the biggest ever GBTx Cycling Team to attend a World Games.
We’ll be on the track from around 11am if you’d like to come down and join us, we can tell you a few stories. Click here for directions.Links for editors 19th World Transplant Games World Transplant Games Federation Therakos Pro Vision
Follow us on Twitter at GBTxCyclists or Facebook at GB Transplant Cyclists or call or email team captain Rich Smith on 07799 767930 or firstname.lastname@example.org
for further information.
A change of circuit for this surprisingly warm and pleasant evening on the boarder of South Staffordhire and Shropshire in the shadow of Mt MoFo - cue sounds of condors in flight and Andean nose flutes…
The scurrilous rumours circulating in the peloton before the race that The Gos and I had dug up the lane leading towards Mt MoFo to ensure the dreaded climb was excluded from tonight’s course were, well, scurrilous and unfounded. However, this was only because we hadn’t thought of it…
The abridged course, navigating the newly namely 4 Ashes climb, (it was ‘2’ less steep than 6 Ashes – thank you John Cooper for that) still provided a challenging drag for the big boned rider but it wasn’t big enough to split things up like Mt MoFo can.
The evening saw less than a full complement of Wrekinsporters but our merry bunch included Ade ‘White Lines’ Billington, Karen and John, New John and me. Forgive me if I’ve missed anybody, it’s still a bit of a blur…
There were four groups this evening, imaginatively named groups 1,2,3 and yes, you’ve guessed it, 4. The race included some riders who had competed in the Lincoln GP last weekend but excluded a few who were preparing for an assault on the Division Champs at the weekend (good luck guys) so it was always going to be quick.
Unfortunately lap 1 was marred by a crash in G2 which left a number of riders on the deck and a couple of walking wounded. I’m told 2 guys are on their way to hospital so we wish them a speedy recovery. The organisers got to grips with things quickly as they always do – top work again to Dave Goring and the team. Dave, who is responsible for handicapping the event, is looking younger and slimmer every week. Charming chap…
The pace was pretty frantic. I saw some really strong riding from the usual suspects in my group with Mark Fenn (Paramount), Tim Jones (MSW) and Andy Jones (Wolverhampton Wheelers) amongst them.
6 laps of the shorter course saw G3 get hold of G2 on lap 3 and G1 shortly afterwards. The fourth group came through with a lap and a half left so it all came together for the finish. Frankly, I’ve seen the finish of this course more often in photographs than in real life, so seldom do I actually manage to hang in on Mt MoFo. However, the flat course meant I was in there at the end (ish) New John was up there, White Lines a little behind (no puns please…) then Karen and John, Karen working hard to keep that jersey.
Karen was resplendent in the pink jersey for leading the women’s ranking. It’s a great effort – she even had matching shoes for the evening but had, apparently, had drawn the line at pink shorts. Fair play indeed.
Fair play also to the organisers for managing to put the race on in light of the road works. Shuffling police consents and HQ’s at the last minute is above and beyond so, thanks to those guys.
I’m afraid I’ve no idea who won (I’ve never claimed these reports were useful) but I guarantee it wouldn’t have been one of my big boned riding mates. The heavens opened just as we rolled it to pick up our licences. Perfect timing.
More next week, Knighton I think….
Here we are again race fans. It’s usually cow shit and diesel time for the traditional opening round of the road race league at Knighton. This time around it was a disorientatingly pleasant evening without the reassuringly familiar smell of manure and pink fuel.
This evening was particularly odd as I’m use to navigating to the Newport course by smell and Sat Nat because it’s usually blowing a hooley and pissing down with mixture of horizontal sleet and snow. It appeared Spring had sprung a bit.
The briefing from Commissaire ‘Big Dave’ Goring was typically to the point. The race was to be settled as is traditional at Knighton by two falls, two submissions or, more commonly, a couple of knockouts and decent bout of concussion. We were advised to avoid riding through the gardens and shrubberies of those houses lining the course where possible and that biting, scratching and gouging were out. Premiership footballers please take note.
The usual suspects showed up. You know, bike riders and that. Many of them as old as me. Good Wrekinsport turn out, including the Gos who had seemingly got lost on his way to a chess match although as it appears he wears the same clothes for both activities it’s difficult to tell.
I wish in Big Dave’s Health and Safety but he had told us that, in the unlikely event of us loosing air pressure during the race, oxygen masks would fall from the sky and could be activated by pulling them down towards your face. I could have really done with one of these a few minutes into the ‘riding around the course bit’. In fact, I could have done with a much larger one that fitted over my arse too because that’s what I was breathing through. My Majorca training was really kicking in at this point in so much that I could have really done with a sit down and a cake…
5 groups raced tonight, Group 3 caught group two on lap 3 of 5 and were later joined by the proper cyclists from G4 and G5 (presumably they combined at some point, I don’t really know what kind of black magic goes on back there) but at the end of the race G1 were still away by 4 minutes. Notable top 10’s were Wrekinsport’s John Cooke and Wolves Wheelers Ben Manfield who finished 2nd, just coming up from the youth to junior ranks this season, both of whom will soon be towing my arse around in G3.
A safe race, I only witnessed one bit of hedge trimming by a rider who had singularly failed to contribute anything useful to the race and was trying to get upfront for a pointless bunch sprint. The gap is either big enough or it isn’t – this time it wasn’t., isn't, wasn't... whatever. He was unharmed save for having to pick some privet out of this teeth.
Good to see Fred’s mechanic Jam Price back racing – also means next time I bollox my bike up on a Thursday night he can take it straight into the shop…
A good start to the league – we are lucky to have it and we were lucky to have had such great conditions this year. Listening to the radio on the back I reflected many of my fellow riders of a similar age were also lucky not to been shagged backwards by a 70/80’s children TV presenter. But I digress.
My luck finally ran out when I got home and unloaded the bike from the back of the car to discover a searing pain in the shin and smell of burnt flesh that comes from a person unaware his new car’s exhaust pipe is in the middle rather than at one side. Happy days, good to be back eh?
More, much more, later…
Call me a Luddite, (call me Araldite if it helps) but I hold little truck with new-fangled electronic gears and hydraulic brakes for road bikes. Before somebody accuses me of getting irate at the unfortunate demise of rod brakes and cotter pins, I'm not against new technology filtering in to cycling, I mean, I'm not the UCI or anything.
However, I would prefer it if the new ideas and equipment actually worked, or in case of hydraulic rim brakes, didn't work, before they were attached to peoples bicycles. The results of my hastily assembled flimsy research have thrown up a couple observations I’d like to share with you. Thus, and quite literally, viz…
Riding in Majorca this year we came across a young German feller standing at the side of the road with a grim look of consternation on his face and a couple of dents in his virtual Teutonic armour. He was holding a very nice looking expensive carbon bike with carbon wheels on carbon hubs, carbon tyres and a carbon saddle with carbon sprinkles. Despite all this carboness, neither he nor the bike where moving anywhere. We gathered he was testing the proto-type ‘Kaput Shizer’ version of Shimano’s Di2 Dura Ace groupset and, for reasons unknown, it has gone into error mode. We asked if we could do anything to help, he looked wistfully at his broken bike like he was witnessing the last moments of life of his faithful Alsatian dog and said ‘there is nothing anybody can do now’. Thankfully, his trainer (in a team car) and team mates appeared to rescue him. Being British, we were slightly wary of a load of mechanised Germans in uniform swarming over a foreign mountain so we moved on.
A day later, rolling gently down the Coll de Soller (I won’t call in descending, it wouldn’t be fair) we came across another rider carrying his bike UP the mountain. Same problem but no team car this time. Heaven only knows what he was going to do when he got to the top, there’s nothing there other than a lovely view. Presumably he was going to carry it down the other side.
Campagnolo electronic system will work better of course. Anybody who has ever owned products manufactured by Alfa Romeo, Moto Morini, Moto Guzzi or Fiat will testify to the reliability of Italian electronics. In the rain.
I foresee different problems on a comparable scale to Die2 and EPS with hydraulic disc and rim brakes for road bikes so big thanks to SRAM for coming up with this particular piece of genius level thinking. Never, not once, ever, have I finished either a training ride or a race and had somebody tell me the whole experience would have been improved if they could lock their wheels up with just the touch of a finger. Never. Ever.
One of the things that makes bunch riding safe(ish) is that nobody can slow down quicker than anybody else. On the track (no brakes) everybody has to use their legs to slow down, on the road, rim brakes are capable of scrubbing off enough speed but pretty much everybody has the same stopping power. Try it, put one guy on a track with brakes and see if you fancy riding in the bunch with him. Alternatively, put one nicely inexperience rider in the local road race league with hydraulic brakes and ride behind him. In the wet. Go on, dare ya. You’d better just hope he’s riding with an electronic groupset and his battery has gone flat.
I suspect much of my bitterness comes from resisting the temptation to go for Campagnolo 11 speed a few years ago as it would have meant I’d have 8,9,10 AND 11 speed non compatible componentry. I made the sensible decision to go for SRAM/Shimano 10 speed on everything. So now I look like a complete chump so thank you, thanks a lot.
I know component manufacturers have to come up with new shit to flog us but it has to make sense, right? What’s next? Servo assisted remote controlled braking and gear shifting? Now that does
sounds like fun.
Rich Smith is bitter, twisted and old. He is also the author of the potential No1. best seller ReCycled
. Not available in good book stores but definitely available via Amazon for a quid or so...
1 heart, 4 livers, 5 kidneys and some bone marrow. Have a guess...
Always a pleasure to see the Great Britain Transplant Cycling Team come together for a training session. It contains some remarkable people so there is always a bit of a buzz around it. Yesterday at Stourport cycling circuit we had riders come from as far afield as Northern Ireland, Darlington, Portsmouth and Luton to ride.
The full cycling team travelling to South Africa to compete in the World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa this July will be 13 strong – for the stato’s amongst you that’s 4 livers, 7 kidneys, 1 heart and 1 bone marrow transplant. 11 of the 13 made it to Stourport. It’s the biggest team we have managed to take to a World Games and it would have been bigger had funds allowed. All of the riders are self-funded – we have to raise the £3000 or so it costs each of us to get to the games individually and this can be a real push with family and other commitments. We’re not complaining, we've been given a second chance at life and this is our chance to do something to raise awareness for a cause that is close to our hearts (and livers and kidneys – see what I did there? )
We are also lucky to be supported by friends and fellow riders who help us out at the sessions. We mix some skilful and fearless youth, junior and senior riders into the Tx team and throw them around some 180 degree hairpins and see what comes out the other side. I'm polarising for effect of course, we had two Level 3 British Cycling coaches and a number of trainee coaches there for the day - we're starting off from a pretty well established skill base and improving riders’ technique by demonstration and practice, practice, practice. The simple truth is, the races at Worlds levels are separated by single seconds and tyre widths – if you can get the power down a fraction of a second earlier out of a corner, it will make the difference between a podium position and a top 10. Frankly we want podiums – preferably top step – so we train and practice.
There’re more women than men in the team for the first time ever. Over the last two years we've gone from core skills like getting on and off a bike, drinking and eating on the move to cornering in formation at race speed with some of the best bike handlers I know – shoulder to shoulder, big smiles and great satisfaction at new levels and skill and confidence.
Huge thanks to Ron, Craig and Jess Ansell, the Brothers Perry (Mick and Dave) and Will, plus Charlie Smith of the Wolverhamption Wheelers and Wrekinsport’s Del Jones for their continued invaluable help and support during the day.
Stay tuned for exciting news about new sponsors and new kit… more, oh so much more, later…
The gang after the Orient ride. Charlie, Dave, Del, Otti, Steve and Dave Bason...
…So there I was, just riding along, you know, tapping out a steady pace sitting on the front of the bunch next to my mate Del, warm in the pale Majorcan spring sunshine heading out towards Orient – my favourite bike ride, possibly of all time…
A week or two in Majorca in March or April is not an unusual thing for me to do but it’s a treat for sure. It allows one to live like a pro might for a couple of weeks. Eat, sleep, ride, and repeat. You can empty your mind of everyday nonsense, the stresses and strains that come with modern life, and just focus on turning your legs round. With the knowledge that you don’t have to rush back to work, or to cut lawns, or wash clothes and the like, comes a cathartic and Zen like experience.
It’s my happy place, my Vanilla Sky moment. If I was going to be stuck on a never ending visual tape loop in my head I would want it to be of me tapping out the miles just like this on a bike, in the sunshine, with my mates. The 2 hours and 14 minutes it took to cover the 32.5 miles from Puerto Pollenca to Bunyola , the little town before the climb to Orient , flew by. Trance like, happy.
I could hear the little group of riders behind us chatting and joking. It gave me and Del the opportunity to enquire if all was well in the cheap seats and if the weather was okay back there, but truth be told we didn’t want anybody to come through to the front. We’d get bragging/joking rights that evening about how nobody else wanted to put their nose into the wind; we could express mock surprise that certain riders had been with us during the day because we’d not seen them during the ride. Roles would be reversed on other days and bragging rights would be swapped but today it was our turn and it felt right.
It all looked a bit different for me from the preceding November when doctors were putting tubes with lights on down my throat to try to find where all the blood and iron that should have been in my veins had gone. Over winter I’d been pretty much unable to ride because, without going into too much unnecessary detail, Severn Trent were processing my red blood cells when it should have been my lungs and muscles. A few miles at very modest pace was all I could manage before being exhausted.
The doctors found some holes where I’d been leaking, plugged them and started feeding me iron to cure the resulting anaemia. You can’t ride a bike fast without a healthy blood count; ask Lance if you don’t believe me. This kind of thing comes with the territory of being a liver transplant recipient of 20 years vintage. Frankly, transplant or no transplant, it can also come as fact of life of being a 45 year old man with a stressful job too. Duodenal ulcers aren’t very romantic as far as injuries and illnesses go are they?
That I am lucky enough to be here to even ride a bike 20 years after a liver transplant adds a little poignancy to every pedal stroke and this day, on my favourite ride, I felt particularly lucky – blessed even. First, behind me, in the cheap seats, were some of my Wrekinsport club mates – friends, people I like and trust, people I chose to spend precious time with on the bike. Secondly, my son Charlie, a decent rider and decent bloke who did another chunk of growing up in the company of trusted friends during his week in Majorca. Thirdly, my friend and GB Transplant Team mate Ottilie Quince – somebody I have seen go from behind a sportswoman with a bike to a fully fledged cyclist over the last few years – something she shares with many of her GB Tx team mates. I flatter myself by claiming, as her coach, I have played a modest role in her being the current British, European and World Tx cycling champion in both road race and time trial disciplines. OF course, she's the one that pushes the pedals, right?
I won’t attempt to describe the view of the Tramuntana Mountains and the valley you get whilst descending from Orient; I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. It’s awe-inspiring and breathtakingly beautiful. I would strongly recommend you go see it on a bike so you can really feel it too.
To cement our bragging rights, Del and I sat on the front for the 35 miles back to Puerto Pollenca. I felt privileged to be able to do it and, more to the point, privileged to be able to do it in such company. What a fantastic day…
Di Higman being congratulated after her bronze medal in the time trial.
The final selection for this unique British cycling team travelling to compete in the 19th World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa in July 2013 has been made.
All of the riders have benefited from life supporting organ transplants, either kidney, liver or heart and are only riding and racing because of the altruism of others. In contrast to the drug scandals engulfing the pro peloton and in particular the recent Armstrong revelations, these riders show the positive effect clever doctors and modern medicine can have when combined with brave donors. They have the slightly dubious honour of disqualification if found negative
for drugs... :)
The objective of the team is to raise awareness of the success of organ donation and encourage people to consider joining the organ donor register. On average 3 people die every day waiting for a transplant and whilst over 90% of the population think organ donation is a good idea, only 30% have actually joined. We want to close that gap.
The team, which is drawn from all over the UK and ranges from 16 – 62, is Men
Richard Smith (liver)
Simon Ripley (heart)
John Leveson (liver)
Gerald Brown (liver)
Gavin Giles (kidney)
Bob Jolliffe (kidney)
Declan Logue (kidney)Women
Ottilie Quince (kidney)
Mel Slaney (kidney)
Di Higman (liver)
Zoe Dixon (kidney)
Fidelma Hodgkinson (kidney)
Beth Morris (kidney)
The team have had great success in past British, European and World transplant games and whilst there are a number of riders new to the team there are some old hands too. Both Richard Smith and Ottilie Quince are the current holders of the world titles in both road race and time trial disciplines from the last world games in Gothenburg, Sweden 2011.
Most riders are active in their local cycling scenes throughout the UK engaging in track, circuit and road racing as well as the ubiquitous club time trials!
The team are self-funded but are supported by a Level 3 British Cycling qualified coach, an exercise scientist and Pete Hudson, a psychologist specialising in helping riders go faster. The team are fund raising via Just Giving http://www.justgiving.com/GBtransplantcyclingteam
You can follow the team @GBTxCyclists on Twitter and GB Transplant Cyclists on Facebook. Notes for editors
World Transplant Games info http://www.wtgf.org/
19th World Transplant Games in Durban info http://www.wtg2013.com/
Transplant Sport info http://www.transplantsport.org.uk/
For further information contact Richard Smith (email@example.com
or 07799 767930 and, most importantly, please sign up and save lives… https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/how_to_become_a_donor/registration/consent.asp
Entries continue to come in for Mamil Cycling’s summer sportive bike ride starting in Bridgnorth’s historic High Street on 7st July 2013 and covering some of Shropshire best known landmarks.
One entrant of particular note is Pete Richards, a Pattingham born rider who emigrated to Sydney Australia in 2002 but is returning to Shropshire to ride the 100 mile challenge on roads he knows and loves. Pete comes back to the UK most years to visit family but this time he is excited to be back in summer and able to combine attending a family wedding with sportive.
Pete says, ‘for a few years now we've found ourselves back in the UK in the depths of some pretty hard winters, so riding hasn't really been on the agenda but as soon as I realised that we would be back in July for a family wedding I started looking around for a suitable sportive or endurance ride. I quickly found out about the Shropshire Hills 100 and it's an absolutely perfect event for me, a challenging ride on roads that I know and love. The roads (and climbs) will have a warm sense of familiarity and I can't wait to ride them again for the first time in over a decade’.
He goes on to say ‘we're very lucky here in Sydney. The roads are good and, if you know where to go, the countryside just an hour's ride from the heart of Sydney's centre can be absolutely breath-taking. The temperature rarely drops below 15 degrees (even in winter) and it always makes me smile to see my Aussie riding mates pulling on arm and knee warmers when it drops to a "chilly" 15 degrees. I still have a lot of respect for riders who manage to continue riding through a British winter.
Mamil Cycling director John Ireson says ‘this is the 3rd time the sportive will be held in Bridgnorth, it’s proved to be a popular event with both local people but others have travelled from all over the UK to soak up the spectacular scenery Shropshire has to offer. This time it’s great we have a rider coming all the way over from Australia’
Warwick University, Sunday 3rd February saw the third full meeting of the 16 riders making up the current Great Britain cycling team heading to the World Games in Durban, South Africa in July this year to take on riders from 60 others countries. The team contains a number of British, European and World champions already and is very much focused on creating some more later this year.
‘What British cycling Team?’ you may ask. Good question – and a particularly timely one given ITV’s From The Heart campaign, as all the riders have had lifesaving and life-supporting organ transplants. The games? The 19th edition of the World Transplant Games - an international event covering a range of sports held every two years to raise the profile of issues surrounding organ donation and transplantation.
This is us at the last World Games in Sweden in 2011.
On between the 11th and 13th February in the run up to Valentine’s Day, ITV’s From The Heart campaign is to encourage people to consider joining the organ donor register and, importantly, to tell their loved ones of their wishes. Get the tellybox on to ITV this evening from 8pm and see some superstars, some with transplants, demonstrating the success of organ donation. The GB Tx cycling team contains riders from 16 to over 70 who can throw a leg over a bike only because they have benefited from a kidney, heart, liver of bone marrow transplant. We race pretty hard so we know this stuff works.
If you want to read more about the success of transplantation and riding, racing and training with us, you could do worse that read ReCycled
. It’s all about life, death, winning, losing and really important stuff like trying to find a Campagnolo stockist in Japan… J
Please have a think about joining the register. At present 96% think it’s a good idea and 30% of people are actually registered. You are far more likely to need a transplant than ever die in circumstances that allow donation and hopefully this campaign will go some way to filling that big gap. A link to the register is here
Right, we need to get back to Vo2 max’s and Z5 efforts to try to stay ahead of the Italians…
Cheers. 'ReCycled' Rich
The GB Tx team are raising the money they need to get to South Africa to compete via Just Giving...
I posted this picture on Facebook a few days ago. It’s me and my good friend Barry Goodyear on the Long Mynd in Shropshire in June 1995. I suppose it was foolish of me to expect anything other than a reaction characterised by comments like ‘who’s the mincer in the yellow T shirt?’ and ‘Christ, that looks like a thin you. Only with some (bad) hair’ but no matter…
I found the picture when I was searching for some stuff about my liver transplant in 1993 but I posted it because it brought back some great memories of riding in what we subsequently agreed were simpler times. We talked about it when Baz poled up at my house for a cup of tea and a bacon butty on his full suspension Commencal – a far cry from the second hand Alpinestars you can see him on in the picture. The bikes were certainly simpler with rigid forks and cantilever brakes with my nod to safety and comfort at that time being fingerless weight training gloves.
I came across another slightly fatter, sorry, I mean later, picture of me and a couple of riding buddies (Mark Nelson and Rich Pay) where we had advanced to suspension forks and V- brakes but it was still the innocent days of mountain biking.
I wrote about these seemingly simpler and more carefree times (along with many other things) in ReCycled
should you wish to come with me on the journey although the main subject of that book was road cycling following my transplant. Unearthing the pictures made me think a little more about why I ride bikes. Some 18 years after that picture was taken, I'm now a Level 3 Road and Time Trial coach, a road racer (of sorts) a time triallist (of even strangers sorts) and I'm about to launch into riding the track later this season. 46 isn’t too old to take on a new cycling challenge is it? :) I’ve won British, European and World titles in transplant cycling but frankly, it’s all a bit bloody serious sometimes. It struck me recently when on a routine visit to the Queen Elizabeth hospital to look at my blood levels for signs of rejection following a change in immunosuppressant drugs, that I was more concerned about my haemoglobin and haematocrit levels than anything else. See, it’s all about oxygen uptake when racing the bike isn't it? Don’t get me wrong, I love the competition and the training – I'm constantly strapped to a heart rate monitor and worrying about mine or somebody else’s cadence, pacing or power output but there is
more to riding a bike than that. There is, dare I say it, fun and possibly even, enjoyment?
Sure, it’s a great outlet for one’s competitive angst but sometimes a ‘trees and flowers’ ride is needed to ground you: to remind you about why you do it in the first place. Because the weather has been so lousy, the last few weeks have been all about turbo and roller training sessions in the garage – heart rate monitor on, iPod in, water to hand, freezing cold to start with, sweating like Lance in front of the FBI the next. Not that much fun really.
The wild and reckless me thought ‘sod this’, I’ll dust off the mountain bike and get out for an hour in the snow. So, I dislodged the nesting wildlife from the Orange and got out for a ride on a bike designed to have fun on rather than race. 5 minutes later I was in the lanes looking for patches of snow and ice to ride through, bouncing on the suspension forks and murmuring ‘weeeee…’ (under my breath of course) as I went down hills.
It’s something I need to do more often. It was fun
. In fact, it was so much fun that I almost forgot to switch my heart rate monitor off and log the data when I got home. New habits die hard.
See you out there. Rich ...
I’m fund raising for the GB Transplant Cycling team going to the World Transplant Games in South Africa in 2013. Please support us if you can. http://www.justgiving.com/GBtransplantcyclingteam