A great blog idea from Matt Jones, thanks to all riders partners for their insights.
Life from the pit lane: long suffering other halves tales
It’s a well known fact that behind every endurance athlete often lies a supporting rock of some sort. Whether that be a husband, wife, friend or other family member, having someone who is there to support athletes both emotionally and lesser said, financially, is fundamental to success and happiness! But what’s it like being in the pit lane both literally and back at home, the latter of which is the lesser seen or talked about part of the iceberg? Here are some insights from some of E3’s top endurance athletes and their coach’s other halves! We’ve not named names about who said what but you can probably guess from some of the other halves of the below interviewed, enjoy! Thanks to coach Jon, Steve Chapman, Alex Watts, Tony Revell and Matt Jones and particularly their other halves for being good sports!
Why do you think your other half does what they do?
- It’s his job and he has to exercise or he’s grumpier and less calm when he’s been exercised!
- Fundamental brain wiring problem
- Ridiculously competitive and keeps him out of trouble.
- He is ambitious and has an addictive personality, so he puts a lot of effort and focus into something that is of interest to him
- I think it’s because he realised he can! I’m not sure even he knows one particular reason why he does it but I think he’s afraid to see what will happen if he stops. It seems to have been a slippery slope that started with a commute to work and ended up with 15 hours a week training and racing for 24 hours. Now he’s hooked. That or he really dislikes me.
What do you think they would they do with their time if they weren’t training/racing so much?
- Never going to happen!
- Bike packing / music and thinking about boobs
- Canoeing, climbing, dirtbiking, sitting in pants in front of the Telly
- Drinking down the pub!!
- Spend less time faffing in the garage and diarising life. Eat more, drink more, sleep more, see mates more and get more DIY done.
What’s the best thing about them being an athlete?
- Encourages me to run
- Seeing drive and enthusiasm
- Amazing thighs! Also being introduced to the world of bike racing - it's actually pretty cool
- He is fit and healthy. His lifestyle changed for the better when he found cycling, he smoked and drank a lot before and now he has realised the importance of keeping healthy.
- His hardworking, committed ethos tends to follow through into all aspects of life. Also the bum and thighs
What’s the worst thing?!
- Bikes all over the place
- Being crabby and tired with training and 24hr shifts at work
- Lack of quality time together, mood swings, not being able to go on leisurely bike rides
- Not seeing him as much as sometimes I would like. It isn’t easy doing all the typical “family things”, but I have found it easier to become the “cycling family”- we travel around all together and as much as sometimes it is tricky juggling his bottles and baby bottles it is worth seeing how much our eldest is already wanting to “be a cyclist like daddy” when he is older.
- The fear of carbs. He loves his food and having a few beers with his mates so the food and alcohol guilt gets pretty tedious after a while
What’s the biggest mess you’ve seen them in?
- Lost on South Downs way when running it stressed, cross and tired
- After racing first 24hr with a broken fork and so much hand damage he couldn't feed himself for a week
- Probably during a 24hr solo when it rained for the full 24 hours and his leg was held together with gaffer tape after gashing it open on a caravan minutes before the race
- When he was so determined to not let the weather get the better of him he got kitted up and went on his ride in the middle of storm Doris... he returned shortly after and collapsed at the front door complaining he couldn’t feel his legs. I restrained from saying “I told you so” and helped to bring his legs back to life! And then said it! I’ll leave the pub stories for another day…
- Vomiting across the finish line at a 12 hour race at Gisburn (sorry for making you think you the guy behind you was a few minutes behind, not a lap + a few minutes…oops) or waking up in the middle of the night having a minor panic attack the first time his hands went numb after his first Fort William 24
Top tips for balancing life around an athlete/family/work etc?
- Not an issue as he does it whilst I’m at work
- Be adaptable and supportive where you can / realise gold standard is rarely achievable so sometimes bronze will do
- Not sure I've mastered that yet. Lots of patience and low expectations
- As mentioned before, to start with I didn’t find it easy being the wife of an athlete. However, I would definitely say becoming a team and doing it together has really helped. And that doesn’t mean going out and riding or training together, as that isn’t possible with a family to run, but for me I try and keep the nutrition side under control; cooking dinners, prepping lunch and being “pit bitch” at the races! He works during the day and then trains in the evening, sometimes he is lucky enough to spend an hour with the kids before training if he finishes work early but other times he is straight out after work. A lot of people have said to me “I wouldn’t do what you do” or “I wouldn’t put up with my husband being out as much as he does” but if I am completely honest, it just works for us. We do racing as a family, and the kids enjoy travelling the country, hopefully one day we will be doing it to watch our children race too. And when he isn’t training we make a point of doing something else, from sitting on the sofa and having a duvet day or taking a trip to legoland. At the end of the day as long as we are all together we are all making memories.
- Make the most of the “dead time”. Driving to visit friends and family for the weekend? Have him cycle and you drive. That way when you are both somewhere together you don’t have to carve out time for training.