GUEST BLOG: PAUL AUSTIN | ONE Pro Cycling

47-year-old amateur cyclist and ONE Pro Cycling Member Paul Austin, experienced life as a Pro when he joined the team at Haute Route Norway for a few days of bike riding and banter. Read on to find our more about Paul’s eye opening, leg sapping and stunningly beautiful three days:

“I’ve entered many competitions through Facebook and I’ve only ever won some bike cleaning equipment from a local bike shop, so when I got an email from Evan at OCS Sport saying that I had won the ONE Pro Cycling Haute Route competition I didn’t really take that much notice and thought it was some sort of email scam, I showed the email to my wife and she thought the same. Something stopped me from deleting the email as I normally would have done. The next day I got a message via Facebook to contact Evan at OCS Sport urging me to contact them ASAP. I immediately rang Evan to see what I’d won, it turned out that I actually had won the competition! I was shaking with the shock of the whole thing. I confirmed that I was able to go and with Evans’ help, we set about sorting out the logistics of the trip.”

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QUEUE THE LAST MINUTE ‘PANIC TRAINING’!

“So after three weeks of panic training I was off to Stavanger in Norway to meet up with ONE Pro Cycling and the people behind Haute Route. Arriving in Stavanger Airport I was greeted by ONE Pro Cycling’s General Manager Becky Frewing and Head Sports Director Matt Winston. They made me very welcome and drove me to the hotel in the team car, where the rest of the team were there to meet me. Race Mechanic Phil Leigh introduced himself and quickly whisked my bike off to the makeshift workshop in his hotel bedroom to assemble and check it over ready for day one of the Haute Route experience. This certainly was the pro treatment, as I normally have to assemble my own bike! That evening, the team and myself attended the Haute Route welcome briefing and enjoyed an evening meal together at a very nice local restaurant.”

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STAGE ONE – OFF WE GO!

“The next day, stage one, started with a short ferry ride away to the start in a town called Tau. At 80 miles in length and including approximately 6000ft of climbing, it was definitely a lumpy stage. ONE Pro Cycling Soigneur Kyle Pepperman-Hackett made sure I was well fed and hydrated for my ride and with that, I set off with the fast group alongside my domestique for the day, ONE Pro Cyclist Pete Williams. Pete done a great job of looking after me and we rode through some of the most amazing scenery ever and even though I tried to capture a few photos, none do it justice!

We completed the stage in about 4 hours 30 minutes and made it back to the ferry just as the heavens opened (perfect timing). Arriving back at the hotel Kyle wasn’t taking any chances and ensured that I would be ready for stage 2 with a post ride massage and a protein drink to aid my recovery, while Mechanic Phil Leigh took care of the bikes which were cleaned and lubed for the next days stage. The evening was spent dining with the team and the people from Haute Route, which finished up at one of the many seafront bars for a recovery beer.”

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STAGE TWO – OUCH

“After a good night’s sleep and some breakfast stage 2 was calling. Stage 2 was the Queen stage, where Norway gave us some of its finest scenery. Once again we caught the ferry along the Lysefjord to the small town of Lysebotn where we disembarked to the start. Straight out of the blocks and we were faced with a 6 mile climb with an average gradient of 10% (ouch), this as you can imagine, split the peloton into pieces but I wasn’t going to put myself in the red as our DS Matt Winston had warned us not to.

The weather was awful! Rain and wind were against us as we fought our way up the difficult ascent. Upon reaching the top, we waited and regrouped alongside the team car. With the bulk of the climbing done, it was a rolling affair to the finish, we got ourselves into a small group with ONE Pro Cyclists Sam Williams and Pete Williams doing a sterling job on the front. Taking more than their fair share of the wind, they escorted me to the finish in 4 hours 40 minutes, soaked through to the skin but having loved every minute of the day.

Back to the hotel and feeling refreshed after a shower, it was time to meet for a gala dinner, which was held on an island near Stavanger at a restaurant called Flor & Fjaere. The restaurant had the most beautiful gardens and the food was excellent, a great choice! It was here in front of the dignitaries of Stavanger it was confirmed that Haute Route Norway would be taking place next year in Stavanger with 400+ rider’s. It was also here that Becky and Matt invited me to join the team in the team car for the Tour of Britain, fulfilling another of my cycling ambitions. After dinner we headed back to Stavanger for… let’s just say more than one or two recovery beers!”

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LAST BUT NOT LEAST – STAGE 3

“Stage 3 was an individual time trial of about 12 miles, but being Haute Route Norway it was a hilly parcour, which finished atop of a communications tower which is probably Stavangers equivalent to Mont Ventoux, with some very steep sections of 25% gradient. Having successfully cycled around stages one and two, my legs were pretty tired, so my time wasn’t brilliant – clocking around 40 minutes! In the end it was Pete Williams who took the win, in a time around 32 minutes with his teammate Sam Williams taking a close second.

And so with that, it was back to the hotel to shower and pack away the bike ready to go home, a final lunch with the team at the hotel, and then say goodbye and thank everyone who made the trip happen. I can honestly say that I lived the dream of a pro rider, I’ve learned so much about looking after myself both on and off the bike, it can only make me a better rider.”

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BONUS STAGE – THE TOUR OF BRITAIN

“As a bonus and true to her word, General Manager Becky Frewing contacted me to ask if I’d like to join the team for Stage 4 of the Tour of Britain. So once again, I travelled to meet the team, this time in Mansfield for the start of the Stage 4 of the Tour of Britain!

I was welcomed onto the Team Bus to meet the squad and presented with a signed photo of the team and me during my experience in Norway, which will take pride of place in the man cave! To top the whole experience off, I followed the stage in the team car with Matt and Phil, which was such an adrenaline rush to actually be involved in the car and see plenty of the stars of the peloton, a very surreal experience. As we drove into the finish at Newark I realised that I’ve been so lucky to have been able to experience what I have and that’s all down to Becky, Matt and the team for making this happen, I can’t thank everyone enough for what they’ve done.

I hope if you are reading this, it will inspire you to pre-register for Haute Route Norway 2018. I have and hope to be able to do it and hopefully ONE Pro Cycling will be able to support the event again, it would be great to see some of the members there along with the team. See you in Norway 2018!”