Louise Bardsley

Louise describes her rapid progression over a short space of time; from humbly eating a banana in the swim/bike transition, to a performance-fuelled Silver medal position at the World championships and Gold at the British Triathlon Championships…

This is my first article for the TORQ website… so, how do I introduce myself?

I am a web designer and software developer in Reading; obviously a mad keen triathlete and duathlete, and I like to dabble with mountain biking too!  The challenge for me – as for most multi-eventers – is always fitting in the day job around the fun stuff…

I grew up by (and often in) the sea in Dorset, I’ve been a keen runner since the age of 10 and I’ve cycled to commute since I was 16.  So it’s amazing really that I didn’t think of entering a triathlon until I was 27!  Having long since given up the hope of achieving a GB vest for athletics, it was pretty exciting to discover that multi-sport was something I might have the potential to represent my country in!

Well, my first event was a local sprint – which was nothing to write home about.  I stopped to eat a banana in T1 (after a 400m swim!), drank a litre of water on the bike and then spent the 5km run desperate for a wee.  Given the choice of indecent exposure, weeing in my brand new tri suit, or running with a little discomfort, I decided to hold it in!

With a bit more practise my results soon picked up.  I won my club championships, and the South of England Championships on my entry level road bike, which was really encouraging.  By my second season – with the help of a TT bike upgrade – I qualified for the GB Age Group Duathlon and Triathlon Teams.

Limmerick GB

My first performance in GB kit was at the European Duathlon Championship in Hungary, in May 2009. I can honestly say that this was the most exciting trip ever.  It had been my ambition since primary school to represent my country in sport; the icing on the cake was winning Bronze in my age group (25-29) and finishing in 6th place overall.  The result was above and beyond my wildest expectations!

Needless to say I was all the more excited to pull on my GB lycra again, that September, at the World Triathlon Championship on the Gold Coast of Australia.  My first competitive World Championship experience! Unfortunately another medal was not to be.  No sooner had I landed in Brisbane, assembled my bike from the flight box and headed out to find the nearest cycle track, I was knocked off of my steed by a car.  I broke my collarbone, was out of the race, and out of training for the rest of the year. A small consolation (besides the business class upgrade on my flight home!) was becoming a bionic woman.  Having my fracture fixed with a titanium plate was the coolest thing ever according to some of the sci-fi fans at work!

2010 was the start of a long journey back to fitness.  I had a few good results, but it was 2011 when things really started to come together for me.  I had a disappointing start to the season at the European Duathlon in Ireland, but this was a turning point for me, prompting me to reassess my whole approach to my sport.

I began working with a coach, James Calcutt, and decided to take some unpaid leave from work.  Within a matter of weeks I had improved enough to be the overall winner of the British Triathlon Championship – the highlight of my career to this point.  There was some confusion over the results at the end of the race, so I didn’t know that I was the fastest lady until the prize giving!

Louise at Dambuster

Photo c/o Mark Epton

This motivated me even more and encouraged me to work even harder for my final ‘A race’ of the year, the World Duathlon Championships in Spain.  I knew that I was fitter than I had ever been.  My training had gone well and I had done everything that I could do to give myself the best chance of winning my first World Championship medal.  By race day, after some mechanical issues were resolved with my bike, I knew that I had to maintain my focus and think about my ‘processes’…  Lean forward on the run, high cadence on the bike, keeping good form on the second run.  It worked.  I had finished 5th overall, and had won a silver medal in the 30-34 age category.

No sooner than my season had finished, I was booked in for surgery to have the titanium taken out of my shoulder, in the hope of getting my full range of motion back.

There was however, just enough time before the op, to pop to North Wales, where my fiancé was riding the Howies/Coed y Brenin Enduro. I decided to have a ride out before an enforced 6 week ‘rest’.  Much to my surprise, I was the fourth finisher and the fastest lady!

Louise MTB

So now that I’m back to full health, and have a good winter’s training behind me, I can’t wait to begin my 2012 season racing for TORQ…

Thanks Louise and welcome aboard team TORQ. With thanks to our sponsors:

www.wilier.it/en – Wilier Triestina; Triathlon Frames
www.ffwdwheels.com – FFWD; aero wheels
www.ritcheylogic.com – Ritchey; Aerobars, saddles and finishing kit
www.cycleops.com – CycleOps – PowerTap; Power meters
www.racezone3.com – Zone 3; wetsuits
www.limarhelmets.com/eng – Limar; helmets & glasses
www.lakecycling.co.uk – Lake; Cycling footwear
www.jagwireusa.com – Jagwire; cables
www.scott-sports.com – Scott; running footwear
www.shimano.com – Shimano; Groupsets
www.triathlonspecific.com/Sable/Sable.html – Sable Water Optics; Swim goggles
www.max-mediagroup.co.uk – Max Media; Team PR
www.amphibia-sport.com – Amphibia; transition bags
www.champ-sys.co.uk – ChampionSystems; Custom Trisuits and Cycle wear