Lockdown Q&A: Travis Bramley (Saint Piran Development Team)

Former triathlete Travis Bramley from the South West rides for the Saint Piran Development team and in this feature length Q&A gives us an insight into how he went from triathlon to cycling and how’s dealing with lockdown

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Lockdown Q&A: Travis Bramley (Saint Piran Development Team)

Q: What made you switch to cycling from triathlon?
Travis: For as long as I can remember I have swum and run and from a very early age, they were both sports I loved and competed in at a National Level. Then, throw in the cycling a few years later and I starting triathlon back in 2012.

In 2015, I won the British Youth Elite Series, and with it the British Title and a place on the England Talent Squad. Unfortunately, a year later I was sidelined with a fairly major back injury, which saw me out of sport for the best part of 18 months, before returning to triathlon with fresh motivation and reaching a similar level to previously. I began studying at Loughborough University in 2018 and joined the world-renowned triathlon training centre there.

As an 80kg+ athlete, I struggled to keep up with the lighter guys once we got onto the run. Swim, bike? No problem, I could mix it with the best of them, but when it came to the run, it was physiologically hard for me to run much faster than a 15:30 5K. In my first semester, I couldn’t help but have doubts about whether it was worth the 20+ hours a week only to fall short on the run.

I had definitely fallen out of love with the sport. Coincidentally, Loughborough made cycling a performance sport at the university the year I joined. Being in halls with the Commonwealth Youth Games Time Trial Champion, I found out more about the new programme and coupled with doubts about being able to stay at the pointy end of elite triathlon, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to race bikes.

This is something I have always wanted to do but being from the far South West the opportunities to race bikes as a Junior were few and far between. After my first semester at Loughborough and deciding that triathlon was no longer for me, I tried out for the cycling performance squad & got in! The rest, as they say, is history and I haven’t looked back since, although I have ambitions to return to long-distance triathlon one day.

Q: When did you start to race bikes and what was your most memorable moment?
Travis: If you count triathlon, I first raced on a bike back in 2012, although I really wasn’t very good at it! At my first Junior nationals in 2013, I came out of the swim and forgot my shoes were already on my bike, only realising once I had reached the mount line… wearing my running shoes!

If we are counting proper bike racing (sorry triathlon), my first bike race was a criterium race at Torbay Velopark in Devon, during my final year of triathlon (2018). I had to win four category four races in order to be promoted to category three because there were only ever 7 or 8 entrants, max! It’s good to see things have changed now though, with the numbers being consistently higher. I didn’t commit fully to cycling until making the switch in 2019, where I began competing in the East Midlands, local to university.

My most memorable moment so far is either winning Bronze at the South West Divisional crit champs last year, after being in a four-man break with three elite riders for most of the race, or finishing 12th at the Divisional road race championships a few weeks earlier in lashing rain, hauling myself up the Cornish hills in what was at the time my longest ever ride full stop.

Q: Your last race was what and how did it go?
Travis: My last race was the University of Birmingham National B Spring Stage Race. I was actually due to be part of the media services at the Six Day Manchester track event that weekend, however, it was unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19. This left me free to race at Birmingham, so I messaged the organisers and got a late entry. Stage One was a ~27km rolling time trial, whilst Stage Two later that day was a criterium around the Tudor Grange Circuit in Solihull.

I finished 5th in both, which was enough to finish 4th overall, a solid result to back up my National B criterium win the previous weekend down in Cornwall. It was awesome to ride with my Loughborough teammates in the criterium and we tried a few moves, but nothing really stuck. Jacob Tipper was a deserving winner, having chased down most of our moves and showed us a clean pair of heels at the finish.

Photo: ‘ThatCameraMan’

Q: Where are you based and with racing cancelled, what’s a typical week training wise for you?
Travis: I’m based near Plymouth in a town called Ivybridge. A typical training week currently consists of Zwift racing, endurance rides and a session or two.
Monday: TT position work
Tuesday: Easy ride AM, British Cycling Zwift race PM
Wednesday: Easy ride AM, South West Zwift League PM (plus some intervals)
Thursday: Rest Day
Friday: Main interval session of the week AM, Loughborough S&C Session PM (via Zoom)
Saturday: Long Ride
Sunday: Long Ride with Sprints

Q: Are you having to use the turbo for training?
Travis: I actually don’t mind riding on the turbo. I’m yet to get a power meter to use on the road, so riding on the turbo means I can ride reliably to power – great for quality sessions.

If you ask anyone that knows me, they’ll probably tell you I’m a bit of a Zwift addict as well (what more would you expect from an ex-triathlete?!) I’ve been known to happily sit on the turbo for anything up to five hours on an endurance ride and even completed a 240-mile ride on the turbo a few weeks ago to raise money for the NHS charities together, alongside Mark Beaumont and some colleagues from Just Pedal UK, a bicycle tour operator that I work for.

Q: If using Zwift to race, how close is it in terms of physical effort to a race on the road for you?
Travis: It really depends on the course! I remember doing my first British Cycling race on the Innsbrucking course and nearly popped my eyeballs out right from the word go. In contrast, racing on a flat circuit like London or New York means as a rider with plenty of power, I can sit in and wait for the sprint.

It’s difficult to say really, because nothing is harder than trying to hold a wheel around a real-life crit circuit at 190bpm for an hour, yet because there are no external distractions on Zwift, I think the races have the potential to be just as intense, if not more so.

Q: Where do you do the majority of your training and what are your favourite roads?
Travis: This is my favourite question! I am a strong believer that Devon and Cornwall’s roads are one of Britain’s best-kept cycling secrets. Dartmoor and the South Devon coast are my go-to routes and you can ride for hours without hitting a traffic light.

It’s also the perfect rouleur-shaping terrain, which is the type of rider I see myself shaping up to be. Haytor, Slapton Sands and the Cornish south coast are all within an hour’s riding of me and I love it, despite there being little respite from the hills! If I had to choose my favourite local road, I would say it’s either the road from Buckfastleigh to Tavistock, encompassing climbs such as Dartmeet and Rundlestone, or the coastal road that runs along Slapton Sands, where you feel like you could be riding in Brittany on a sunny day.

Q: What has been the hardest thing for you about the Lockdown period?
Travis: I’m extremely lucky to live where I do and love coming home to my family in Devon. If anything, the hardest thing to adjust to has been the university side of things. To be able to motivate yourself when you’re outside of that university ‘bubble’ is surprisingly difficult. I’ve just submitted three pieces of coursework this week and we’ve got remote exams coming up in the next few weeks, so I’ve still got plenty to be doing!

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Q: Besides cycling, what’s your biggest distraction as lock down continues?
Travis: Besides university work, I’m also searching for a placement for next semester, so that’s taken up quite a bit of my time and I’m always kept busy by extra-curricular marketing seminars, courses etc as sports media and marketing is an industry I’d love to work in one day (once I’ve finished being a pro bike rider, of course).

Q: How did you come to ride for Saint Piran and have to managed to ride with them much before lockdown?
Travis: In 2016, I began racing for ‘BCR Tri’, the triathlon racing outfit for Bike Chain Ricci, owned by Richard Pascoe. When I switched sports in 2019, I slotted into ‘BCR Racing’, the cycling equivalent of the triathlon club. I raced under BCR for the remainder of the 2019 season, which in 2020 became re-branded to align with the Saint Piran brand and in doing so, became their Development team. So, although this year is my first racing for the Saint Piran brand, I have been a loyal member of Ricci’s teams for almost five years now.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get much of a chance to ride with the team prior to lockdown, although I did meet a number of the group at the Saint Piran elite team launch back in March. We have managed to ride together on Zwift though, as well as pitching myself against the elite riders in races on the platform. Outside of the virtual world, I haven’t ridden with them much at all; something I hope to change once able to.

Q: Finally, what are your goals for your new team?
Travis: It’s hard to say at this moment in time, however obviously being on a development team, I hope to be given the opportunity to step up to the elite team if and when the management feel I am ready.

Until then, I’m going to keep putting in the hard miles with the input of my coach, Ifan Roberts and the rest of the support team from Loughborough University. I’ll continue to try and bag more decent results for Saint Piran Development, first on Zwift and hopefully back out on the road by the end of the year.

I was due to be going to Singapore on a study exchange come July, however, this has recently been postponed until early next year. This means I’ll hopefully be able to get some quality races under my belt towards the end of the year.

Social Media
Instagram: @travis_bramley
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tbramleyracing/


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