The dark and grey winter days can be a struggle for most people. Our guest blogger, Hannah Dines, shares how with some frugal planning she managed to fit in a warm weather training camp as part of her Paralympic cycling programme
Find your Sunshine
We’re halfway through the last Winter training season before Tokyo and without the support of my governing body it’s hard.
A winter glow
I’ve always struggled to maintain consistency and fitness during the dark months but in the run up to the Rio Paralympics British Cycling took us away each month to more temperate climes. I remember chatting to the head of performance. He said you could see the people who were disrupted by the constant winter travelling and the people, like myself, who responded to sunlight so viscerally that I almost projected it back out of myself. He called me a ray of sunshine. I called it being entirely supported for 10 dreamy days, to do your favourite thing ever without a single barrier. I also call it seasonal affective disorder. My mood can be gauged using a UV-level.
The reality of learning to cycle in Glasgow!
Don’t get me wrong, when I first started cycling I was in Glasgow and was raised by the cycling-locals to fear neither hail nor thunderstorm. The thrill of being in a headwind so strong and screaming into it is still with me. Except I’d get home and be so chilled and my joints in such an arthritic mess that I’d be housebound the day after. Consistency would fly away as fast as you can say red-level-weather-warning.
A warm welcome down under
Anyway, it’s the Tokyo run up so I decided to mimic that sundrenched winter in 2015. I was recently given an extravagant quote from a heat chamber for a 14-day training protocol. I had just graduated from my Masters with a distinction and a university over in Brisbane was interested in the research we could do together. I promptly bought a return ticket for the same amount as that soulless chamber would’ve set me back.
The cost of my cycling ambition hasn’t been returned pound for pound but the ability to find accommodation, support and acceptance anywhere in the world more than makes up for it. It’s a challenge to travel with a trike and a granny scooter – you could be stranded at any point with equipment you physically can’t move. Sometimes you just have to run at the wall no matter how solid it looks. I sieved Facebook for Paracycling clubs in Brisbane, found one in the suburb I wanted to travel to and two weeks before I took off I had found myself a host who was both a trike rider and as spirited as myself.
Spills, thrills and chills in Brisbane
It was a trip of a lifetime though I spent it mostly doing “hill efforts” or in libraries, rather than on a beach. For all my inability to grasp the true traveller mentality I had a day disability surfing that felt approximately like I was in a washing machine and a day speeding along a beach in a Ute with my head out the window. There was also the day petting koalas and kangaroos. I sent endless pictures of sundrenched, tropical-coloured trees to my loved ones back home. They don’t share my enthusiasm for the Jacaranda tree but I did it anyway.
A solar powered athlete?
I love colour and light so profoundly that I can feel the sunshine when it hits my curtains in the morning, as if it’s already set my whole future aglow. I feel it so deeply that when it’s not there it is as if I’ve lost something within myself. Now back in the UK I’m keeping up with training because if I do, it might just take me to my next dose of sunshine to power up again.