In order to be a member of this most exclusive of cycling teams you need to have two rare but important attributes. One is that you need to have had a life supporting organ transplant – that’s the easy bit. The squad of 21 includes a good cross section of transplants (kidney, heart, liver and bone marrow) and goes from 16 to 70 plus in age range (the racing is age categorised) and contains more women than men right now. Secondly you need to be quick on a bike – properly quick, not ‘ill quick’ not ‘ahhh isn’t she doing well, how brave’ quick but properly fast. Otherwise you’ll get smashed by anyone from one of the 60 plus nations that attend the Games who will pole up and pee all over your sporting bonfire. Now, it may not be entirely their own pee depending on the transplant they have had, but it will have a dampening effect on your medal prospects all the same.
This remarkable team is entirely self funded – there is no financial support from the Lottery, British Cycling, UK sport or anybody else. Riders have to find (where they can) generous individuals and companies who are prepared to put their hands in their pockets to fund training, travelling and equipment costs or simply pay for themselves if they can afford it. It’s not a moan, it’s just the way it is – The team are all embracing and enjoying a second chance at life. Money? Secondary. Health and life? Everything.
The simple pleasure of being well enough to ride a bike is appreciated all the more in our circumstances. Extend that a little further and imagine the thrill of not just riding but racing: racing for your country in red, white and blue: racing to become a world champion against the best the rest of the world has to offer. Exciting and, dare I say, inspirational stuff.
Much of what the team lacks in funding is made up for in goodwill, help and support. Looking round the training session yesterday, their were 2 sport and exercise scientists, a Level 3 cycling coach and a cycling specific psychologist supporting the team. This is more than some pro teams have access to – it’s just being done via people who volunteer their valuable time to help out. You could be forgiven for thinking, given our transplanted status, that people had already given enough couldn’t you?
I’ll update on the team’s progress as we head towards the games but, if the above has sparked your interest there are a few things you might like to consider taking a look at
1. Pete Hudson is our cycling psychologist – take some time off our time trial by getting your mental approach right, it’s worked for us. http://www.cyclotherapy.org/
2. Despite saying it’s not about the money we do have Just Giving page to help fund the trip to S.A should anybody feel the urge. Don’t hold back... :) http://www.justgiving.com/GBtransplantcyclingteam
3. If you are interested in reading more about transplant cycling have a look at either the e-version or paperback of ReCycled. http://www.amazon.co.uk/ReCycled-Richard-Smith/dp/1781764891/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353331791&sr=8-1
4. Finally and most importantly, please have a think about signing the Organ Donor Register.