It’s been a week of up’s and down’s this week. After crashing my bike in Berlin at the European Track Championships 10 days ago, I was left with a sore head and that meant I had to start with the concussion protocol that British Cycling put in place for me.
This limited me to riding for 20 minutes on the turbo, slowly progressing in duration, but intensity was really easy. However, three days in, I woke at 3am and was really ill, with fever-like symptoms and a very sore head.
By morning, I was no better, and from the bedroom all I could do was curl myself into a ball on the sofa, grab the duvet and pillow and try and sleep it off. Even watching TV was a struggle and I only managed half a can of rice pudding and a small hot chocolate all day – worse than that, given a choice of something to watch on TV, I actually went for the Disney movie “Frozen.”
If that wasn’t enough proof that something was wrong with me, a trip to the doc’s and a quick chat about my symptoms confirmed my concussion was worse than we originally thought. A couple of days later, the doctor hadn’t seen enough improvement and I was ordered to stay off the bike for the weekend.
That left me in an awful position as I was meant to be the leader in the LAB SERIES team at the Redbull Timelaps bike race over the weekend.
The boys all knew I would be doing less than normal but I had still been looking forward to a couple of steady hours of riding and being part of a (hopefully!) winning team.
Instead, I had to make the call to the guys at LAB SERIES to not cycle at the event. So instead of my usual riding job, they recruited me as Directeur Sportif … DS Andy made his debut!
Redbull Timelaps is a 25-hour race around Great Windsor Park. It’s the world’s longest one-day cycling event taking place on the day the clocks go back – hence the extra hour. With teams of four taking part, formed of a variety of mixed or single-sex teams. It was great to see so many female teams taking part, a sure sign of success that mates like Jo Rowsell-Shand, Laura Trott and many others have had over the last few years that has consequently made such a positive impact on women’s sport.
Planning for the event, I spoke to Rhys my LAB SERIES team mate this year about what we thought we should do tactics-wise and we agreed that him doing the first turn, and going on for longer, would be the master plan.
I felt at the start of the race there would be a big group he could just sit in and save energy for later in the race, as every time you are transitioning you probably lose a couple of minutes. He was also down to do the “Power Hour.” A shorter circuit in the race that started when the clocks went back at 2am.
After the first few hours, all groups had splintered and riders were just riding solo on the track. Anyone who has raced a bike will know how much easier it is physically and mentally to be in a group. So, from then on, it was a case of people pacing themselves over their allotted amount of time.
Looking back, I think I would have got the team to do shorter turns than we did at the start and longer in the evening up until about 9am, as the pace had slowed before the final ramp to the finish. But, hey, this was my DS debut, we all have to make mistakes, right?
There was a mix of abilities and experience in the race which, from riders' feedback, was telling me groups were not as efficient as they would be in a normal race, with some riders racing to a high level and some who were super strong, but with limited experience in groups.
These riders tended to be less aware of the etiquette of group riding and the dynamic of how it all works, with swapping off and taking your turn. Reading wind direction, for example, is not something you can be teaching people at 1am in a chilly field!
I have to remember sometimes how drilled I am at these things. I ride with Olympic champions and just go into a “computer” mode without even thinking about it.
In the coaching course I did, the hardest part for me to grasp was the simple techniques - things I don’t think about as I look at people riding in far too much detail. I would be the same if I was taken out of my comfort zone and made to do something completely new.
But I did manage to make sure all my riders’ bikes were set up correctly. Yes, there were a few mistakes - like skewers the wrong way round on the wrong side - but I even managed to help some team member with mechanics … anyone who knows me will know how much of a shock that is!
So, not riding allowed for me to have a lot more spare time on my hands (and get a good night’s sleep). One of the busiest attractions at the riders’ village, was the LAB SERIES tent. They were offering free treatment - along with a good pick-and-mix selection and we all know how important sweets are for cyclists! And anyone who has followed me on Twitter and Instagram and seen my #FATANDY pictures will know that’s a subject I know all about.
In the run-up to last year’s Olympics, I had to shave every day. It played havoc with my skin, shaving before rides my face would sting for about the first three hours and I would get in-growing hairs on my neck. Being a “man” (and stupid!) I just sucked it up and carried on. Despite being told by my wife to moisturise and exfoliate, I am sure many of you can relate to this.
Anyway, with time on my hands last weekend I went for a treatment, drawn firstly to to the neck and shoulder massage on offer. My wife Lauren, however, stopped me and told me to have a face mask which I was sceptical about. The therapist Gabriele (who I got to practise my limited Italian on) gave me a mini-facial and I have to say the effects were amazing.
Gabriele told me I had really good skin, which obviously I was smug about, but he said it was lacking moisture. Probably that’s down to the fact my face gets battered by sun, wind and rain on a daily basis. Gabriele showed me a little routine to follow, one that was achievable because being on the road all the time, using five different products is just never going to happen.
This led to me finding my three favourite products and keeping the routine simple. It’s like stretching for cyclists. Nobody is going to spend 30 minutes every day stretching but we tend to be able to find five minutes to use a foam roller.
So the upshot is, twice a week I now plan to use the LAB SERIES Invigorating Face Scrub, Max LS Age-Less Power V Lifting Cream and I’ll also put in my travel bag a daily moisturiser with SPF. Then, every now and again I can do my best smurf impression and give put on a face mask with the Urban Blue Clay Detox Mask.
I am sure people will be sceptical about anything that claims to make you look younger but I can only go off experience. Their high-tech high-performance products have worked so far very well on me and I’m a big sceptic – like most cyclists, I tend to be driven by numbers and hard facts and the fact is that four or five people have complimented me on how nice my skin looks which, I can assure you, is something that has never happened to me before!
Now, in return for my DS work, Team LAB SERIES have offered a 15% off code for anyone to use on their first order.
Go to: www.labseries.co.uk
Sign up and add to the cart the code WELCOME15.
So, what is next for me? Well I am sure most of you will have seen I have been forced to withdraw from the Manchester World Cup, which is a massive disappointment but one I just have to accept as I am unable to ride a bike and trying to do a Team Pursuit race in 10 days, when I can’t ride the turbo for 20 minutes, is not going to happen.
Instead, the next two weeks are about getting on the bike and being able to train again. It will just be a case of starting steadily and building up until I’m back in the rhythm again, hopefully with an eye on riding some of the Revolution series and heading off to Mallorca for a training camp in a few weeks.
For more information on LAB SERIES Skincare for Men visit: www.labseries.co.uk or follow them on Instagram: @labseries_uk or Facebook: Lab Series UK