AT SOME point in life everybody is faced with having to make a tough choice and no-one can ever be sure they are making the right decision.
A couple of years ago, Ivybridge athlete Travis Bramley found himself doing some serious soul searching over whether to stick with triathlon, try his luck with cycling or just take a break from competitive sport.
Bramley had won British and English triathlon and aquathlon titles at youth level, had been a world biathle medallist and had secured a place at the Loughborough University Triathlon Performance Centre, where he was training alongside internationals and Olympic hopefuls.
But while in his first year at Loughborough University – and just months after finishing an impressive fourth in the junior men’s race at the 2018 international Super League Triathlon in Jersey – Bramley decided to turn his attentions away from triathlon and concentrate on just cycling.
It is a decision the 21-year-old says he has not regretted, despite having to play catch-up on his cycling rivals. And it seems the switch is paying off, as this month, after impressing at time-trialling last year in the colours of Plymouth Corinthian and Loughborough University, he was confirmed as a rider for British elite team Nopinz Motip.
Bramley has not ruled out going back to triathlon in the future, but for the next few years he says he is totally focussed on trying to make it as a professional cyclist.
On why he switched sports, Bramley said: “The swim and the bike had never been an issue for me in triathlon – I could always come out near the front of the pack – but it was the run that was starting to do it for me.
“I was really struggling with foot injuries – my feet would cut to ribbons and I just could not run fast for a prolonged period of time and that was obviously setting me back.
“Also, at Loughborough we had tests done on our efficiency levels and I found out that was I was near my physiological ceiling with running.
“I am a big guy and although I got my 5k time down to less than 16 minutes, I realised that in a European field or even a top domestic field, others who were lighter and skinner than me would be faster on the run and would capitalise.
“I just got a bit fed up and lost that bit of love for competing in the sport. I have never lost the love for watching it or engaging in the sport, but the enjoyment was not there because I knew that my strongest two disciplines would not amount to much as I would lose it on the run.
“So, I did a bit of soul searching towards the end of 2018 and even considered whether I should just focus on my degree.
“That is the other thing about triathlon, it is just so time consuming. Although I am doing around the same amount of hours now in cycling, I am only doing it twice a day, whereas with triathlon you are maybe training three or four times a day because of the different disciplines. It’s also getting to the venues, packing up and packing down – you just can’t switch off and that is quite challenging to juggle with a full-time degree.”
Loughborough University also made cycling more attractive to Bramley by making it one of their performance sports and offering him the support he needed to make the transition.
“I haven’t looked back since,” he said. “I have absolutely loved it.”
He admitted in his first year he made ‘a lot of mistakes’ as he tried to learn cycling race craft.
“You can have all the watts in the world and be the most gifted physically but if you don’t have the right racing brain, don’t know what moves to follow or when to put in your digs and stuff like that then you are never going to make a success of it,” said Bramley.
“A lot of my first year was trying to learn that – and I am still doing that now. I am still playing catch up on the guys who have been racing since they were eight, nine or 10.”
Due to Covid-19, Bramley, like nearly all cyclists, found himself concentrating on time-trialling in 2020 – and he certainly made his mark.
He won bronze at the RTTC National Open Circuit Championships, finished sixth and first under-23 at the RTTC Closed Circuit Championships and secured a top 25 place in the National 25-mile RTTC Championships.
In addition, he also finished the year as the top ranked second category rider and made the top 20 on the unofficial all-time 100-mile rankings.
Bramley said he knew he had made the right decision to focus on cycling after impressing at the two national circuit championships towards the end of the season.
“I went down to Thruxton for the closed circuit championships and came sixth and was first under-23,” he said. “I was over the moon with that and then the very next weekend I went to Newmarket and did the open circuit championships over 25 miles. I gave it everything and everything felt really good. It was just one of those days when everything flows and I ended up getting joint bronze.
“I just loved what I was doing those two weeks and I knew then that I had made the right decision switching from triathlon.”
The geography and management student knows he has a great opportunity now to take his fledgling cycling career to the next level by joining the Nopinz Motip Race Team.
“I have been given a huge opportunity,” he said. “Obviously, I have shown potential, but I’m still a bit of risk. I don’t know if I have the race craft to win races. I hope I will and I think I can, but I have got no proven track record so it a real privilege to be given this opportunity – and I want to make the most of it.
“I’m just so enthusiastic and want to get stuck in as much as I can.”
He added: “The big targets are the National Series road races, if and when they go ahead, and the Tour Series as well. Even to race one round of the Tour Series would be a dream come true.
“And if we could get over to Europe that would be awesome. To be racing internationally in only my second real year of road racing would be crazy.”
Bramley would also like to achieve BUCS success with Loughborough for the way they have supported him, but the big attraction is to make it as a professional, which was the main reason for his switch from triathlon.
“I have no doubt that I will go back to triathlon one day,” he admitted. “A cyclist’s career is fairly short. And the attraction for me in cycling is about trying to make it as a professional, whereas I think triathlon is more of a lifestyle.
“I think once I’ve finished my cycling career, I will go back to triathlon, probably the longer distances, but at least for the next few years I am committed to cycling.”