10 Jun CAMS-Tifosi rider Charmaine Porter’s blog
Being in the Army I was extremely fortunate with the amount of support I received, so much so that I was oblivious to some of the challenges that maybe my teammates and others in the peloton may face each day. So, when I signed off from the Army in January 2019 I didn’t take into consideration these challenges because I wasn’t aware of them. I thought life would be just as plain sailing…oh how wrong I was!!
To give you an idea of what my life was like as a supported athlete within the Army, here is a brief description of what a typical day was like for me. I would wake up, eat, drink tea, drive to Gloucester University where Graham, my strength and conditioning coach would be waiting for me with a planned session. Even then I didn’t even have to think because he would just tell me what to do. I would listen and then do as he said…easy! Then it was back to grab food, drink tea, drive back to camp, jump on my bike and train, eat, drink tea and sleep (obviously missing out some of the boring stuff that you don’t really need to be hearing about such as changing, showering, snacking etc). Oh, and on top of this, technically I was probably one of the best paid cyclists in the British peloton!!
You’re probably all wondering why on earth I left? Truth is, you’re a soldier first. And although I had a great seven or so years in the military, it wasn’t the career for me, the one I dreamed of, so it was time to move on. In January 2019 it felt like the right time to go ahead and pursue that dream career as a Police Officer.
My local force was recruiting and I knew I had to attempt the gruelling application process otherwise I would live to regret it so that’s exactly what I did. I just didn’t quite realise how gruelling and long the process would actually be! Come 8th January 2020, my last official day in the Army I was still unsure whether I was going to be successful in my attempt to join the Police. I thought I would be in and serving by now and as a result I was officially unemployed. This was massive for me, as I had an expensive new puppy, a mortgage, signed a contract with the CAMS-Tifosi team and loads of other adult stuff I had to take into consideration.
Although all of the above I just mentioned is probably incorporated into most people’s everyday life without a bat of an eyelid it was all new for me and it was stressful. I was losing motivation to train because I was constantly worrying about all of that stuff. What I didn’t realise was the lack of motivation was adding more stress because how was I going to perform for the girls and my team if I wasn’t training properly?
I knew I had to find a job that potentially had to be temporary and I did. To get me started I took on a casual role in Sainsbury’s and alongside this I transferred over to the Army Reserves. Sainsbury’s was good, it gave me experience, it paid the bills and some days I was able to commute to and from work, which was long enough to include my training. The light was starting to appear.
That was short lived though as the job in Sainsbury’s was only contracted for four weeks. I felt like I was back to square one again. I was in the middle of an application process change within the Police, so that came with more uncertainty. However, I did receive a start date for the Prison Service (my plan B and a job I applied for when times were previously uncertain). I thought this would be my career now. I threw everything into it, which meant the bike was on the back ‘pedal’, although I did cross train in an attempt to keep some fitness but I was uncertain whether I would be able to race for the team this year.
Then, six weeks into my Prison Officer training, I received some good news! I finally got a start date for Police training. My dream career was ever so close!!! My motivation to train has returned, I’m focussed, getting back on track and life is great… Then boom! COVID-19 comes around and all races are cancelled for the foreseeable future! Surprisingly though training is still going well, probably because of the partial lockdown, days like these are normal for an athlete, isolation is common practice for us!! Even though we are in the middle of a pandemic the girls in the team are amazing, the banter and positivity in the WhatsApp group is strong!!
I hope for them and us as a team, that we ALL get through this safely and races start to creep back into our calendar. We are EXTREMELY lucky to have such incredible sponsors. They have remained supportive throughout and they are continuing to support us. Not all teams can say that. I think it is important for us girls, and for our followers, to recognise this more than ever at the moment. For me, I am extremely fortunate that the Police recruitment has been able to adapt training. I am just about to finish week six and I am certain I made the right choice when it came to deciding which path to take for my future!!
Stay happy, stay healthy!