I have never really been in a position to “Dedicate a Win” but just recently I had some good form and broke the TT record around my neighbourhood. I followed that up with an outright win at Killarney in the night series criterium, this win I dedicate to one man.

Italian – Grinta -n. grit, bravery, endurance, determination

I started riding a few years ago, I was overweight, slow and inexperienced, but I loved riding my bike. I was aggressive and brave and had no fear for falling off (which I did a lot) and I learned quickly. I had a thirst for knowledge about riding and taught myself all I could. I was training for the Cape Epic, riding 10 hours a week and eating like a small army to replace the energy spent so I could train more. I rode and rode and didn’t lose a single gram, I got fit but not fast. So bad that my local coffee ride group I hooked up with dropped me like a stone on the shallowest of grades. I’d lose sight of them as they would round a corner and I wouldn’t know which way they rode. I would pick a direction and chase like mad, sometimes only catching them on their way back… so it went in the lead-up to the Big Race. One of the fast guys laughed and said I would never complete the epic in this shape. This only fuelled my fire.

My Epic partner had done some research on nutrition and found this man, Andy Lambert who I and many friends call by his nickname; Grinta. He met with  me and wrote me a program, he was the most enthusiastic guy I’d ever met, no bullshit, yet gentle. He had this way of making you want to do something perfectly every time. I counted calories, I learned more and more about nutrition and what I was doing. My body changed. I went from 94kg to 85kg by the time I started Epic in just three months. I raced the race and rode strong every day, it was long and hot and brutal but I knew I could make it and I did. Andy was proud as a father, and congratulated me greatly. We set new goals.

I used my MTB fitness and bought a road bike, I rode in the PPA races to better my seeding and went from Q to D Group in three rides. I now qualified to race elites, which I did for the first time in the Burger Sanlam Race. OK I got dropped on my ass on the first hill, but I was well accustomed to chasing. I went from strength to strength to where I am now.

It was Andy that told me about Killarney crits on a Wednesday evening, he’d give me advice and tips on how to manage it and encourage me to hang on for dear life. He’d tell stories of his experience and how the races went, the tactics and sprints, about burning matches, who to watch and racing in general, and for this I thank him today. This one exercise has helped shape my riding and I dedicate this win to him.

The sad thing is I never got to ride there with him, he was a busy guy but I’d go see him afterwards and tell him all about it and stand on the scale for  my weigh in.

I can honestly say this one guy changed my life, for the better. He willed me to be better, I worked hard and had great results. Over three years of riding and racing, I have not just ridden with the best in the country and sometimes the world, but I have been competitive, not a fly on the wall.

In my lowest weight I was 75kg for Giro 2010, I have gained 3kg of muscle since and nett a loss of 16kg from where I started. It means all the difference, and I’m only getting better…

Andy – I hope you read this and stay the positive, lively, enthusiastic guy with a massive zest for life and willingness to help. You are a true inspiration and I owe you everything. I hope these bad times for you pass swiftly and your recovery is way beyond expectation. You deserve better.

See that look on my face - that's Grinta!