The British Transplant Games are a major sporting event for people who have had a life-saving transplant as well as bringing together organ donor families. Our athletes range from age 2 – 90! Whatever your ability, we’d love you to be involved. All photos from RWB Ireland and Richie’s social media page, with thanks to both…
What a weekend!!! Still soaking it up!!!
I remember the conversation coming up 2 years ago, “Have you considered the Transplant Games?“. This was the question my Haematology consultant asked me after my 2nd bone marrow (stem cell) transplant. He already knew how much cycling meant to my physical and mental recovery. To be totally honest I had no idea about these games and with a bit of research I thought for sure I want to be doing this.
Fast forward to Friday 29th July 2022 and the day had arrived, everything had fallen into space, I went into remission again in early 2022, was taken off chemo, and post the Team Racing Without Borders Majorca training camp in May my fitness just kicked on. I had traveled to the games with my lovely support team, my wife Lisa, and son Aedan. As ever our human alarm clock woke us and I opened the curtains in our hotel room. RAIN, noooo!! Checked the forecast for the rest of the day and the rain was on until 11 am, the exact start time for the TT. Shriek! Anyways, it is what it is. We got to the track and I started unpacking. Went to hook the bike up to the trainer and had no trainer skewer frantically running round asking fellow competitors for a lend and happily got one, not ideal but settled and got my warm-up done, no shelter for my warm up but the mizzle was nice and cooling in the clammy 23c heat.
Got my Galibier Skin suit on, even with my clammy sweaty skin. Not very flattering but again it is what it is, lumps, bumps, and belly! Got onto the track and got in 2 quick practice laps to gauge the wet surface on the 2 hairpin bends and finish chicane. The first bend was zero power, just too sketchy and the 2nd bend was about 50%, thankfully the chicane was full power to set you up for the 350m kicker and last lap sprint.
GO time, unlike most TTs I have done it was a standing start, thankfully I got clipped in on my first pedal revolution, but also with that the adrenaline kicked in, and right out of the start gate was the 350m kicker so had to drive huge power to get up to speed asap given how short the race was, it was full gas all gas from the start, it wasn’t like other TTs where you ramp up so all those Zwift race starts and 5min power training came into my favour. The rest of the race was a blur until I crossed the line in a time of 7:23, 17 secs faster than the next competitor. GOLD baby!
I also picked up the Best TT Time Shield the shield has been kindly donated by the families of Simon Timothy Batch and Tim Jenkins, two members of the transplant cycling community and GB team who very sadly lost their lives since the last games in 2019. Tim and Simon were the fiercest of rivals and the best of friends, whether that was at the British or World Games, or racing up an Italian mountain on the Euregiotour. There couldn’t be a more perfect tribute to their memory.
Next up 50mins later was the 10km crit road race, 6 laps of the same track. I was fully warmed up at this stage I think but still got a couple of loops in to stop the legs from becoming frazzled. Thankfully the weather forecast was spot on, the rain stopped and the track was bone dry for the race. A lot of the guys that did the TT were doing the road race too so I had an eye on the competition already and I was heavily marked. The first lap was well behaved as we all woke our legs up, then on the 2nd lap one of the guys tried to gap on the kicker but I quickly closed that down and the rest of the group followed my wheel, again on the third lap on the same kicker another attack but it was brought back right away. As we went past the opposite side of the start-finish I could see the TSNI supporters and gave Aedan a wave and took my eye off the pack for a second, as I did that one of the lads attacked and got a gap, no one closed the gap so I had to put in a bit of an effort to close it and then on the start of lap 4 I thought I’d push on the kicker and I opened a gap and just stayed out front for a bit. They all got back on and I knew at this point it was going to be a group sprint so I slipped to the back for the final lap to surf the wheels and conserve energy. I came through the flat-out chicane into the final straight in 3rd / 4th wheel and looking good. Then it got messy. 3 back-markers got in the way and then as I was about to wind up I dropped my chain but quickly got it back up again and kicked for the sprint a big gap opened in front of me and I powered through for the win with a nice bunny hop celebration over the line (not brave enough for a no hander).
Racing on Zwift has been my bread and butter for the last 2 years but the thrill of racing in real life and the gratitude I have to be able to be racing healthy is something I cannot be more thankful for. I have to thank my FamBam for its amazing support and patience. Love you.
I want to thank these folks individually, really hope I haven’t forgotten anyone.
Kathryn Glover, Orla & Kevin for allowing me to be part of the Transplant Sport Northern Ireland team
James McCafferty for lending me his clip-on TT bars
Derek Hegarty for lending me his Disc wheel
Emmett Mullan for the Bike bag
Christian Van Der Merwe at Physio space Clinic, Derry for getting the legs into shape
Ronan Mc Laughlin for lending me his TT helmet and turbo trainer and last-minute position tweaks and tips n tricks
Simon De Burgh VPCC Velo Performance & Sean Ó Gallagher & Marcus Christie for coaching advice
Lawrence Watson for contacting Galibier for sponsorship
Galibier for sponsoring my amazing kit for the race
Finally Lisa Sheerin & Aedan for always putting up with me being grumpy and being the best support crew anyone could ever ask for. I have probably forgotten someone but I am thankful to everyone for their support, advice, and donations to this amazing charity. Just listening to folks that have been through similar journeys or worse than mine and they keep on keeping on is further Inspiration for me to keep on keeping on!! Peace, Richie