Cycling Column by aspiring professional rider Toby Miles
PUBLISHED: 16:26 03 January 2018 | UPDATED: 19:08 04 January 2018
Toby Miles from Codicote will be writing a brand new cycling column at CometSport in 2018. Toby is an aspiring professional cyclist who will aim to give you the inside track on his attempts to become a top-level rider. He will also offer advice and share his racing experiences in the UK and the continent.
Cycling is one of the most physically and mentally demanding sports. One offering a very low chance of success in competition. While relative success is possible - just finishing certain races can be an achievement - only one rider can win the bike race.
If second place is seen as a defeat in the eyes of the non-cycling public, then some races can leave more than 100 losers. That is one reason as to why it is the most misunderstood of the mainstream sports.
I wound up in this unique sport having been a footballer since I was young. I grew bored of the beautiful game aged 13 - also the 2012 London Olympics inspired me to try a new sport.
The ‘Inspire a Generation’ campaign affected my generation the most. Something that will become clear in the near future as Britain’s next generation start winning big, particularly in cycling. Tom Pidcock’s sucess, winning two world championships and wiping the floor with his rivals, is an example of this.
Last season, Britain took a clean sweep of the podium positions at the junior cyclo-cross world championships. British riders - Pidcock, Dan Tullet and Ben Turner - all achieved a top three, which doubled the previous medal count in the event, of three.
My passion started by chance, after I tried to take part in an athletics day, only to find it was booked up. Keen to sample a new sport, I paid a visit Gosling Velodrome in Welwyn Garden City and was immediately hooked.
The joy of being able to travel as fast as you can power yourself attracted me, as did the massive room for self improvement. You can improve in far more ways in cycling than in football, where talent is the main driving force.
With cycling, nobody reaches their full potential. There will always be room for improvement, for Peter Sagan, the worlds best, or for you.
There are tiny ways Sagan could adjust his training to make himself a better rider. Equipment, how aerodynamic he is, his sleeping environment, what he eats during a race, and his raw power can all be improved a fraction. While it would take hours of research for him to find ways to improve in those areas, the smallest thing can improve a novice, which is what has drawn so many to the sport.
My passion for the sport grew rapidly and I quit football to join my first cycling club, Welwyn Wheelers.
After five years racing on the road, in cyclo-cross and on the track in the youth (under 16) and junior (under 18) categories, this year I will move up the under 23 age group, racing for my current club, Finchley Racing Team which I joined in 2016.
Winter training is well underway. It’s a time for long endurance rides, strength building and preparing for the season ahead.
Many hours alone on the bike, while sometimes necessary, can be wildly boring, so often I join my Finchley RT club-mates for the Sunday morning club-run, a notoriously tough ride.
New Year’s Day last year was a memorable morning with the Finchley. A four and a half hour slog in wind, rain and freezing temperatures is something you don’t forget.
During rides like those, nobody in the group wants to have to stop and wait for someone with a mechanical problem, so having tyres with strong puncture protection is essential.
Also essential for wet weather riding are mudguards, with an all important mudguard extension. The last thing you want to do is spend a morning taking the spray from someone’s back wheel in the face.
Buying or making yourself a flap that extends almost down to the road from the back of the rear mudguard goes a long way to making cold, wet rides much more enjoyable.
A skill in itself, choosing how much to wear is essential. The general rule is to leave home slightly cold. The first 20 minutes might not be nice, but it will be worth it later in the ride, as overheating in a thermal jacket isn’t fun.
A thin waterproof windstopper is ideal for keeping some of the cold at bay while you warm up, as you can then roll it up and put into a pocket. However this means having enough room in your pockets, so be sure to invest in a saddle bag to free up some space.
Maybe I’ll see you out on the roads of North Herts, all the best, Toby.
If you’re interested in learning more about Toby’s attempts to break into professional cycling, follow him on Instagram: @tobymiles714