Thursday, 1 May 2014

My dream came true - some amazing sponsorship news!

 My new PB for the sprint distance was only the beginning of an amazing week. The day before the Good Fri Tri I had finalised a date to meet my new sponsors. I was due to meet them 5 days after on Wednesday the 23rd.

 I managed to keep myself relatively composed throughout those days even though I wanted to bounce through the ceiling (my work colleagues may say otherwise though as I doubt I went long without expressing my excitement). On the Tuesday before going to meet my new sponsors I tweeted that I had some amazing sponsorship that I would reveal the day after. Some peoples excitement seemed to mimic mine. Even by the morning someone had tweeted to me "tomorrow is now today...tell us!". I had decided I didn't want to reveal anything until everything was confirmed and my prized sponsored possession was in my car.

 So I suppose it is now time I mentioned who my sponsors were, it would be silly to try and avoid it anymore. On the Wednesday I was driving up to Sheffield to receive nothing other than a new bike. This would be a Triathlon/TT (Time Trial) bike. The most notable difference between this and a road bike is the aerobars or tri bars. Quite simply when resting on the bars it makes the rider more aerodynamic aiding speed. As I mentioned in my Abu Dhabi race report blog there were points were I was uncomfortable sitting up and even resorted to leaning over the handlebars as some sort of relief.
 Anyway, my sponsors were the popular bike brand Planet X. They are currently the second biggest bike assembler in the UK and their success is ever growing. To have a sponsor that is so reputable and popular was, and still is, so humbling. On this note many people have asked me how I managed to get such an amazing and big sponsor considering I am no podium placing athlete. The story is a short one, I posted a picture of the bike which I had seen on my Twitter feed when a triathlon show was on. It  was bright neon pink and loved it. Rosie loved pink and my outrageous tri suit would look awesome with it. I wrote a comment with the picture exclaiming this is my dream TT bike. A few of my followers then badgered on at Planet X who I had tagged in the post that they should consider sponsoring me. I was then asked by Paul at Planet X via Twitter to email him and well the rest is history. The power of Twitter!

My original Tweet in February and how it all started
 So on the Wednesday after I collected some Channel Swim hoodies I had organised to be made I was on the 3 hour journey to Sheffield. I played 'Eddie Stobart' with myself (quite simply shouting out Eddie Stobart when you see a Stobart truck). Being on the M1 pretty much the whole way they were in abundance and the game was ruined when I lost count, at least it kept me busy for a while as sad as I may have been shouting to myself. At lunch I met Twitter friend Smoker2Ironman in Sheffield as he works down the road. Of course we chatted about Ironman and it was good to put a real face to the online correspondence. Like most of my triathlon acquaintances, the next time I would see him would be in a wetsuit.
 It must have been my excitement but for once I was early to an appointment. I met Paul from Planet X fifteen minutes early and he exclaimed "What time is this?" as it seems unnatural for a woman to be early. I explained it must have been my eagerness to get there. We did some contractual stuff for a short while before the real fun started. I was still so overwhelmed to be here. As I already had a tri suit I was to be given some kit instead. After picking a helmet we went down to the shop floor and I was told to pick what I wanted and try it on. Was I in some sort of triathlon dream? I finalised my choices on a collection of bib shorts, jersey and jacket. (These will make their maiden voyage on Monday when I cycle to Paris). Paul and I spoke a lot about our work and we both talked about how we got into triathlon (his story is inspirational too).
 After that I was shown my new baby. This was the exact bike I had tweeted about and had a Sram force groupset and carbon rimmed wheels, put simply it was sexy. I was still in awe that I would have the joy of riding her. I went for a quick bike fit as there was not enough time for a full fitting and a few things were changed. I had my measurements from my previous fit so would finish the minor details when at home. When I had collected all my bits from the warehouse it was time to get a picture for social media purposes and then try and get my new pink beauty in my little sports car. By taking both wheels off she slotted in beautifully and then it was time for the drive home. I cannot thank Paul enough for organising the day and making this all possible for me. I am proud to be sponsored by Planet X and although am still in shock am so grateful for the opportunity. Paul was telling me whilst in Sheffield the abundance of emails he receives daily in regards to sponsorship, many of whom are more successful in events. At the time this made me feel very under par as I am never going to be a podium finishing athlete. However, his reassurance in me and my potential as well as being good for Planet X was nice to hear as well as so humbling. To think out of everyone I have been picked as part of their budget was and still is so overwhelming.

We managed to fit her in my Alfa Romeo sports car!

 Before driving home I posted the picture of me at Planet X headquarters with my new baby announcing my new sponsors. I wouldn't know until I got home of the Twitter explosion that happened.
The picture that caused a Twitter explosion
 On that 3 hour drive home I began to get emotional. Although the bike is a materialistic piece of kit that will aid my journey to Kona it also stands for a lot more. Without losing Rosie I would never have such a bike lying in the back seat of my car but I would give it back a thousand times over just to have her back. In my eyes the bike shows the route I have taken to overcome my grief and loss for Rosie and this road is a positive one. I am challenging myself and my boundaries and in the process achieving a dream in Rosie's honour I never thought I could do. In the process of pushing myself and my limits I aim to raise money and awareness for a cause that is so close to mine and my families hearts, SUDEP Action. If the bike that was lying in my car can help me achieve all these goals then it truly was more than 'just a bike'. Whilst thinking all of this a song came on the radio that reminded me of Rosie. We used to dance around the living room and sing Kate Nash's - Foundations together, each line of the song we would take it in turn to sing. I began singing along as if she was with me and it made me laugh and cry. These little moments will never fade but keeps Rosie's memory alive.  

 I was travelling back to my parents and when I arrived I then saw the mass of notifications I have received after posting my good news on Twitter and Facebook. People were so kind in congratulating me on my new sponsors, they seemed genuinely happy for me and said I deserved it. One even called me a superstar! Some were even congratulating Planet X for acquiring me even if I did think I should be the grateful one! There were also many jealous wow's as she really is a good looking bike. I also had a message from Paul expressing he was happy he signed me which to me meant so much especially with my previous concerns about not being good enough. I hadn't been home for a while due to work and although I had decided to not drink until Lanzarote a few days before we were having steak and I wanted to relax a little so had a drop of red wine. I was good and only had a glass and a half but this moderation didn't last long as I then went to my sisters and she was on the vodka. I didn't mean to have more than one as merely had one to be social but we got talking about Rosie until 1am and we kept topping ourselves up. It was nice however to spend that quality time with my sister and support eachother through our pain.

 I didn't have time to ride my bike in the morning as was getting my hair highlighted so was waiting patiently until I was home to give her her first test ride. Once back I was literally straight in the door and straight back out after putting some new pedals on my pink beauty (I was yet to come up with a proper name).
Ready for my first ride in my new kit
I was worried about going on the aero bars as I had never owned a tri bike so decided to do my first ride in the park on the grass so if I fell off I had a safer landing. I was a little nervous when first going onto the bars but whilst riding wondered what I was so worried about! I was turning corners and felt comfortable and in control, Dan even said I looked like a proper cyclist! I was over the moon and couldn't wait to give her a real ride. It was around this time I decided on a name for her. I had asked on Twitter for some name suggestions and one was "Pulchra Rosea" which is the rough Latin for beautiful pink. I liked the idea of having a name that was translated as did want to have some reflection of what the bike stood for. Then someone else suggested, "name that's an inspiration to you? Somebody who pushed you to your goals maybe?". I then came up with 'Bella Rosa' translated from Italian that is beautiful Rose. Rosie is my inspiration and motivation for what I am doing and my new bike echoes that. I feel so lucky to have such a bike and because of Rosie whenever I ride her I will not be riding alone.

 So all that is left to say is a huge thank you my new sponsors Planet X for believing in me, and especially to Paul for being so kind and making it all possible. My dream TT bike really is mine. Bella Rosa has a big journey to make!

Bella Rosa and I posing for our first picture post ride

Race ready!


  1. Wow that's an amazing bike - nice one!

  2. I know I am late to this post, I have been following you in twitter for quite a while (I'm @mrs_a_k) and have been working my way through your blog from the start as I wanted to read your whole journey.
    It's amazing how far you have come (and I know that you've gone even further since this). It's so awesome that you got this sponsorship, I think PlanetX can see the potential in you just like everyone else. You are amazing Hollie.