A DECADE ON THE ROAD – CHECK-IN QUEUES, CUSTOMS AND FOREIGN HOSPITALS

Travel has – without a shadow of a doubt – provided the highs during a decade of work in competitive cycling.  It has also – yes, you’ve guessed it – provided the deepest lows imaginable.

The one thing that I’ve learnt over time is to be grateful of what you’ve achieved so far, as things will get worse.  Grab every opportunity fast before fate snatches it away and pisses on you in the process.

Arguing over some bikes, excess luggage and a few quid with Heathrow check-in staff may seem like a nightmare way to start a trip.  However, at the other end of the flight you’ll beg to have those officious staff back to deal with as you’re now trying to bribe customs officials in Morocco to get those same bikes into the country.  And just what is a sensible starting bribe to get a dozen bikes in and can I claim it on expenses?

Equally, sat in a UK A&E queue trying to persuade an injured rider to sit still and wait for the doctor is not everyone’s idea of fun.  But that’s a dream scenario when compared with time spent in a developing world hospital with a concussed athlete who can’t really remember who or where they are, let alone communicate the finer issues of head trauma to a non-English speaking medic.

As the PR person on the road the buck stops with you.  From trips to A&E with athletes to shepherding drunk journalists back to hotels, this is the role we adopt.  It’s a thankless task and the best we can hope for is that no one complains.  So why do we do it?

Here’s why – the view that greeted me waking up to prepare for a hectic day ahead of shooting…